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Reservations Recommended

Restaurant Review ~ Chasqa / 2332 Wisc. Ave., NW

Think about a cuisine exploding upon the DC metro area dining scene: Even without an up-to-date internet restaurant count, it’s likely that about 100 Indian eateries and take-outs are currently selling curries and naans, pakoras and biryani specials throughout the area.

Joining this eclectic clan is this newbie, Chasqa in Glover Park. Opened about one month, it will become a superstar in the DC area. For one, the food is fabulous. For two, the service is courteous and helpful. For three, it features as Executive Chef Surimder, formerly of the original Heritage India restaurant, which has since relocated.

Fortunately, those passionate about Indian foods, flavors and textures, even about the spiciness of some dishes marked with a “chili,” will delight in what the chef and staff have to offer. True, the lunch menu may appear shorter than what you can enjoy at dinnertime, but there is no limit to the number of appetizers and breads on offer, regardless of the time of day.

The lengthy selection of appetizers includes many of the very familiar options, such as samosas and pakoras, pastry-like treats stuffed with veggies and wrapped in dough and cooked.

But the kitchen also puts out some dishes that perhaps not many Americans might recognize. For one, the papri chaat is a combination of crisped bread pastry stirred with chutney, yogurt, chickpeas, and potatoes. Elsewhere this dish may seem uninteresting and bland, but Surinder kicks it up several notches, and what comes to the table is a large bowl filled with these ingredients swirled together for a sweet-spicy-crunchy appetizer.

Another top pick is the unusual mango shrimp appetizer, which is not a common dish. Here, the chef arranges five cooked shrimp brushed with a sweet-tart mango dressing and arranged in a semi-circle. Alongside he places a ramekin with a dark green, semi-spicy chutney. The shrimp are so delish that these will be gone in about 50 seconds. And if you are eating with friends, order at least two plates of these.

Lunch specials include four tandoori offerings, but curries really define Indian cuisine. The chef lists eight curry choices, four of which are vegetable based. But for anyone who loves a bit of spiciness, take the chilli chicken (no hot chili printed by its name) that is a dish elsewhere that can be fiery hot. Of Indo-Chinese origin, it is basically, as here, sweet-hot and cooked with garlic, onion, green peppers, and a tomato sauce. Best bet is to order a circle of butter naan for scooping up the curry. Dessert selections are limited to gulab jamun, rasmalai, and rice kheer. All will make pleasantly sweet endings to the meal.

photo–Alexandria Greeley–InTowner.

Enhancing one’s enjoyment is the setting: In the main dining room the walls are painted a rosy red/orange and decorated with Indian painting of royals plus others. And in the main entrance dining area there is a wall-mounted TV for those who need to follow the news all the time.

For patrons not familiar with the word “chasqa”    a note in the menu explains that it is from the Indian subcontinent translates sort of to “your fix.”

Chasqa / Hours: Lunch daily, 11am-2:30pm; Dinner weekdays, 5pm- 10pm. (202) 827-4904.

 

 

Alexandra Greeley is a food writer, editor, and restaurant reviewer. She has authored books on Asian and Mexican cuisines published by Simon & Schuster, Doubleday, and Macmillan. Other credits include restaurant reviews and food articles for national and regional publications, as well as former editor of the Vegetarian Times and former food editor/writer for the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong. Click here to visit her website.