Mie N Yu always seemed, to me, to be a place that wouldn’t be worth the money. The restaurant occupies an expansive space on a busy, high-end stretch of M St. Dark windows show glimpses of the bronze Buddha statues and lavish decor inside to passersby. It exudes an aura of exclusivity to say the least, and perhaps some pretentiousness, and that combination usually does not bode well for the quality of the food.
With that skepticism in mind, I warily accepted Mie N Yu’s invitation to try their new Blind Tiger Tasting Menu. I never refuse an offer for a free meal, and plus, the concept behind the menu intrigued me: the Blind Tiger is the name of a prohibition era speak-easy, and to channel that spirit, Mie N Yu offers this “underground,” $25 three course menu only to people in the know. Those people could be their followers on Twitter (@mienyu), Facebook friends, or even readers of this blog!
Despite my skepticism, I have to say that I was very impressed with Mie N Yu–especially with the quality of the food. Their menu (and the entire restaurant for that matter) is inspired by the Silk Road, which means lots of Asian flavors and ingredients. My boyfriend and I started off with sunomono blue crab salad and zaatar hummus with ful–perhaps our two favorite dishes of the night. The salad was fresh, light, and perfect for a hot and humid DC evening. The earthy flavors of the edamame and soba noodles tempered the tartness of the pickled quail eggs, and a lovely rice vinegar dressing brought out the natural sweetness of the blue crab.
The hummus with ful was thick and smoky, flavored with just the right amount of zaatar (a Middle Eastern spice blend). Ful, a Middle Eastern condiment of Egyptian fava beans braised with roasted tomatoes and various spices, added an exotic element to the dish. Olives and warm naan bread were nice accompaniments, though I did wish the serving of bread had been bigger.
Our second courses were less memorable than our first. Though the Beijing style lacquered duck seemed to be a favorite among fellow food bloggers, I was less than impressed. The duck (sourced from a farm in PA) was very tender and tasty, but I prefer traditional Peking duck with its crackling skin and intense caramelized sweetness. I also found the “mandarin pancakes” to be more reminiscent of tortillas. The char masala lamb kabobs were not my favorite either. I was impressed that the lamb was locally raised in Virginia and ground in-house, but it had a strong, gamey aftertaste. The roasted coriander yogurt served with the lamb helped mask the flavor a bit, but not completely.
For our main courses, we ordered the Pakistani cinnamon and ginger striped bass and the Indonesian chicken “rica rica.” The bass (pictured above) was baked in a yogurt casserole, and the rice was rolled and soaked in the yogurt prior to cooking. As a result, both the bass and the rice were mouthpuckeringly tart. This was quite a surprise for my boyfriend and me–we both expected a mildly spiced, delicately flavored fish. The dish took some getting used to, but after a few bites (and plenty of sips of water), I was able to move past the sourness and taste the cinnamon and the ginger. It’s not necessarily a dish I would order again and again, but it’s certainly worth trying at least once.
The Indonesian chicken “rica rica” was deceptively delicious. At first, I thought the sauce was too mild, but after a few bites, I could taste the sauce’s complex, layered flavors. Sweetness came from shrimp paste, heat came from red peppers, and a slight tartness may (don’t quote me on this!) have come from tamarind. The chicken was cooked beautifully, and fell off the bone.
For dessert (which is not included in the Blind Tiger deal), we splurged on a pecan chocolate croustade with Sumatran cinnamon gelato and fresh berries. The croustade was out-of-this-world good: a warm, flaky pastry crust belied toasted pecans and just a touch of chocolate on the inside, drizzled with local Virginia honey. Eaten with the cinnamon gelato (made at Dolcezza just up the street), the dessert reminded me of a warm cinnamon roll. It was a decadent ending to a decadent meal.
Other random notes about the meal: be prepared to wait a while for your food. Just like Two DC found, there was a long lag between courses. But, that may just be part of the dining experience at Mie N Yu–it certainly gave us time to walk around the restaurant and enjoy the opulent surroundings. I didn’t mind at all, but if you’re pressed for time, I would head elsewhere. Our server was also very knowledgable and attentive, which I appreciated.
Though it’s difficult to remain objective at free meals like this, I can (objectively) say that the Blind Tiger menu is a great value: $25 for three generously portioned, well-prepared courses in a lavish, over-the-top restaurant like Mie N Yu is a steal. And, bottles of wine listed on the Blind Tiger menu are 50% off, and the most expensive bottle is only $28. (I recommend the Cono Sur Pinot Noir from Chile, despite the cheesy name.) I had a fabulous Blind Tiger meal at Mie N Yu, and hopefully, yours will be just as delicious and decadent.
3125 M St. NW
Washington, DC 20007
For the Blind Tiger Menu, online reservations must be made between Sunday and Thursday.