Remember when you were in high-school and were invited to a house party? Those were the days! Everyone knows that house parties were the best kind. There’s only so far you can go, you can’t lose sight of your friends, and the movie is a classic! (What? You never heard of Kid n Play?) Well, this specific restaurant is what you would call a “House Party”. Except, the party is downstairs strictly away from the “parents”.
Because I can’t wait to tell you about my experience, I’m just going to go ahead and say it right now. This is one of the top five restaurants I’ve been to in Washington, D.C. and it aint (yes aint) four and five. Spoken English is located in the Line Hotel (at the bottom, kind of like a basement) and is a Tachinomiya-style restaurant led by Chef James Wozniuk and Matthew Crowley. (Tachinomiya means it’s a drinking establishment where one drinks while standing) This was my first time experiencing a restaurant like this, which made the experience that much more worth it.
I was able to indulge in six dishes. The dishes aren’t big so make sure you grab a bunch when you go. I started off with the Wagyu Short Rib, Chicken Heart, Fried Chicken Skin Dumplings, Twiced Baked Potato, White Asparagus, and ended off with the Fermented Durian Curry. I’ll start the review off with the Wagyu Short Rib and Chicken Breast. The dishes are fairly small, like a taste-coursing set, so make sure you order a number of things. The Wagyu Short Rib was topped with Anchovy and Fresh Wasabi. If you’ve ever had a piece of beef that was your favorite, you now have a new favorite. The deep flavor of the rich marbling rib melts instantly on your tongue and the Anchovy adds a great salty after taste to the overall dish. The wasabi wasn’t too over-powering and it worked well with the fatty flavor of the Short Rib and the tenderness of the beef. If I were rich, I would’ve ordered ten of these, but unfortunately I am not, so I have to dream about this dish until I’m able to order it again. Delicate, flavorful, and salty is a great way to describe the overall dish. The Chicken Heart were up next. Don’t be alarmed, it’s not as bad as you’d think it’d be. The Chicken Heart doesn’t have a big difference in taste than regular chicken. It’s a bit chewy, sweet, but nevertheless it’s still chicken. The chef was able to grill the dish along side of special seasoning and lime. The lime juice worked well when sprinkled on top of the smokey flavor of the chicken, from the grill, and the seasonings added the perfect saltiness to compliment the dish. I’ve always said if you haven’t tried something, now is the perfect time to order it.
The next two dishes were the Twice Baked Potato and White Asparagus. The Twice Baked Potato changed my life. I can’t imagine ordering a Potato Skin and being okay with how it taste after eating this one. It was topped with Roe (fish eggs) and Uni (Sea-Urchin) The starchy flavor of the potato to go with the smooth delicate taste of the Sea-Urchin and the salty flavor of the fish eggs exploding in your mouth is like no other. I would never think to add these toppings on a Twice Baked Potato, but I’m not the expert like James and Matthew are. If you never listen to me, the only advice I’ll ever give you is to order two orders of this dish. The next dish was the White Asparagus. There wasn’t anything too special about this dish, other than the fact that it was served with Caramelized White Chocolate and Yuzu Ricotta! Chocolate to go with the earthy flavor of the Asparagus is something that I wasn’t ready for. Asparagus can be ruined if over-cooked, but Chef grilled these to perfection. With every bite you took, you heard a crunchy sound and a deep-breath as you swallowed each bite. This dish was truly one for the books.
The last two dishes were the Fried Chicken Skin Dumpling and the Fermented Durian Curry. Yes. Fried. Chicken. Skin. Dumplings!! Who would’ve ever thought to wrap a dumpling in Chicken Skin and fry it? The top of the Skin is tied up like Pork Rinds and on the inside you have seasoned rice that will soak up the chile-spiked ginger dipping sauce. I’ve never heard or seen anything like this. I’m sure there are dishes out there that are like this, but to have something that I grew up on (Fried Chicken) and to have it mixed in with an Asian cuisine is one I couldn’t imagine. This dish was perfect to say the least. The last dish was the Fermented Durian Curry. It consisted of spaghetti squash surrounded in a hot and sour sauce the derived of red curry paste mixed with durian that’s been fermented for a few weeks according to Chef James. It also consist of sliced chile peppers and mint leaves to add freshness. I absolutely love anything that’s pasta, so this dish was beyond any expectations that I might had. If you enjoy spicy dishes then this is the dish for you. The pasta absorbs some of the sauce but not enough to not have your nostrils open with every slurp. (Forgive me, where are my table manners?) There was no proper way to eat this dish, and if I wasn’t raised correctly, I probably would’ve licked the bowl. Not only was this dish amazing, it was presented picture perfectly too. I didn’t have a favorite dish of the night, but if I had to choose, this would be … Nope, I can’t say. They were ALL my favorites.
Overall, this restaurant is a stop what you’re doing and go immediately after reading this. I’ve never been to a restaurant where you stand the whole time. The place only seats 12 people at once so make sure you get a reservation in advance. I can damn near shed a tear by how well this restaurant is.