I’m in love with this gem of a place. Step into the sapphire blue doors of Rasa and you’re on a magic carpet ride to a whole new world. A harmonious world where flavors, people and culture effortlessly coalesce into an endearing place that pushes the envelope of fast casual dining.
First, there is the appeal of authenticity in consuming ethnic Indian food abroad made by Indian immigrants themselves. Rasa is founded by Rahul Vinod and Sahil Rahman, childhood friends brought together by their fathers’ restaurant businesses Indique and Bombay Bistro. Apparently in preparation for launching Rasa, they traveled across India to get to know the cuisine and food scene. They knew Rasa would inevitably take on the role as a cultural ambassador to India.
Second, the interior décor manages to be minimalistically vibrant and welcoming, achieved through the clever use of riotous pop art colors – in abstract paintings hugging the wall, zig-zagging strings across the high ceilings, and large pods swinging by the window. If not for the aroma inviting you to check out the spread at the ordering area, you could mistake this place for an art museum.
Third, the food selection and quality is well done. Like most fast casual joints, you can choose from chef-curated combinations (We’ve Got You) or design your own bowl (You’ve Got Us). View there menu here. My custom bowl consisted of sexy greens, tofu & cauliflower, sauteed spinach, coconut and ginger sauce, a little bit of everything from the ‘top it off’ section (who can resist?! crispy dal was the best) and kokum vinaigrette. As a vegan, I applaud the initiatuve that vegan items are clearly marked with a (v) so the process of ordering was quick and easy. Each bite was a riot of flavours and textures in a mouthful, each dish well spiced but not overly assertive or salty. The sauteed spinach took the spotlight and blew my mind. Cooked down to creamy tender perfection, it was pure comfort food and would highly recommend to include it in your selection. The portion was decent for its price ($9) and quality. Moreover, the elegant cobalt blue bowl that graces each order elevates the dig-in factor and makes your meal seemingly tastier.
Fourth, its community ethos. In this competitive edge, a restaurant or café can no longer play a single role as a diner. Most successful eateries have community causes and in Rasa’s case, its cause is to end child hunger. It has partnered with Bangalore-based NGO Akshaya Patra and will contribute one nutritious meal to kids with each bowl sold at Rasa.
In summary, Rasa has nailed down pat its literal Sanskrit translation – essence of enjoyment – and makes us rethink how fast casual dining can be accessible, delicious, enjoyable and meaningful for the community at the same time.
1247 First St SE, Washington, DC 20003
Nearest Metro: Navy Yard-Ballpark