Among the many things that we love about living in Petworth, the welcoming, neighborhood feel is at the top of the list and something we had not experienced to quite this level in other areas of the city. This is immediately evident when going out to restaurants and bars in the area and experiencing minimal crowds and an overall lack of pretentiousness (Little Coco’s is a perfect example of this style of Petworth dining).
Now with that being said, Himitsu is a bit of an anomaly for Petworth. It’s a buzzy place that has been getting a lot of hype with a reputation for lines forming before the doors even open. We loved the food and our whole dining experience during our first visit, but felt it had more of a “special occasion” vibe than an every day neighborhood joint. That all changed with our second visit.
We had perfect weather and thought it would be nice to go out for a weekday walk with Ashton and maybe find a happy hour on a patio. We strolled down Upshur Street when we noticed some open spots outside on the patio at Himitu. This certainly caught us by surprise, the restaurant was packed the last time we were able to get in. Despite the fact that we were both dressed in our gym clothes, we immediately grabbed an outside table so Ashton could join us – the Petworth charm was starting to creep in.
We ordered some cocktails to start and gawked at the vibrant colors and cool glassware. I had the balancing act with bourbon, sherry, and topped with red wine while Kacy went with the beransu that was sake, smoked green tea and pineapple vinegar.
We loved the Japanese eggplant nigiri we had during our first visit, so we decided to try the avocado and salmon belly versions this time. The avocado was perfectly ripe and brushed with a hint of soy sauce.
The salmon belly or o sake toro was outstanding. Beautifully presented with rich yet subtle flavors.
During the course of the meal the co-owner and beverage director, Carlie Steiner, spotted Ashton and came over to say hello. She was a big fan and commented that he looked just like a kuala bear with his current haircut. It’s always fun when you get to meet the people behind such a cool project.
After the sushi, we were on to the sapidus farm oysters which were cornmeal fried and set on top of a garlic-spinach puree. Keeping up the top-notch aesthetics, they were topped with chili-kosho and a fermented spinach powder.
The cornmeal batter was light and let the salty, briny oyster flavors really come through. The puree added a nice and creamy finishing touch.
Next up was the akami + gohan which was one of the coolest looking tuna tartare dishes we had ever seen. The tuna is surrounded by rice crackers and topped with a little quail egg. The tuna was doused in just the right amount of shoyu, adding a savory flavor without overshadowing the tuna’s freshness.
To finish our meal off we went with one of the newer hot plates, the cabbage e pepe. This is a fun play on cacio e pepe, an Italian pasta dish with parmesan (or pecorino romano) and black pepper. The asian spin for this dish came from using cabbage instead of pasta and also including a bit of miso. Despite the humble presentation, this may have been our favorite dish of the night. It had such rich and savory flavors coming from the miso, cheese and black pepper while showcasing chef and co-owner Kevin Tien’s ingenuity and creativity.
After two trips to Himitsu, we are now completely under the spell of their cooking. Such a great selection of menu items ranging from fresh and delicate dishes to rich and full-flavored ones. However, the biggest difference we saw during our second visit was that the Petworth neighborhood charm was alive and well.
Any restaurant that lets us stroll up and grab a table in our gym clothes with our dog has a special place in my heart. Add in that they are putting out some of the best and most creative food and drinks in the city and I’m reaching full fanboy status. And if you do end up encountering a wait, rest assured that it’s well worth it.