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Oyamel Cocina Mexicana in Penn Quarter


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It's interesting that they choose to locate it in the (culinary) wasteland that is Crystal City.  Anyone have any insight as to their thinking on that?  Steve?

i dunno about that. i mean, who hasn't enjoyed the comforts of Crystal City Restaurant on a lonely evening?

I wanna say something. I'm gonna put it out there; if you like it, you can take it, if you don't, send it right back. I want to be on you.

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I received an e-mail newsletter about the Jaleo/CC opening.  But it was all jazzed up (broken images, etc.) so I couldn't tell you exactly what it said.

Did anyone receive the newsletter in a legible format?

Fancy Flash newsletters backfire. Maybe ScotterPie can paste it into da thread.


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  • 4 weeks later...

Oyamel is having three nights of fundraising - October 12, 13 and 14.

And I quote (from a newsletter received today):

For three special benefit nights, all the proceeds from sales at Oyamel will be donated equally to the following nonprofit organizations:

The Michoacán Reforestation Fund is a non-profit 501 ©(3) organization founded in 1997 with the mission of reforesting with Oyamel pine trees the areas surrounding the Monarch Butterfly Overwintering Area in Michoacán, Mexico. Their work involves raising Oyamel fir and pine seedlings, transporting them to the local ejidatarios (peasants working common lands) in the Monarch butterfly overwintering region, and teaching them to plant and care for the seedlings. In the summer of 2004, the Michoacán Reforestation Fund surpassed the cumulative planting of one and a half million seedlings since its founding, and their goal is to increase the numbers planted each year as well as the numbers of ejido families with whom they interact. www.michoacanmonarchs.org

For more than 134 years, physicians and nurses at Children’s National Medical Center have been working to safeguard the health of children. Ranked among the top ten pediatric hospitals in the nation, it is the only health system in the region dedicated exclusively to the care of children. The E. Robert Jr. Center for Surgical Care is one of six Centers of Excellence providing care to thousands of young patients annually. The Center offers the expertise of some of the world’s most skilled surgeons and pediatric anesthesiologists along with cutting-edge technology. With the help of generous supporters, Children’s will continue to deliver preeminent care for generations to come. www.cnmc.org

Human Rights Watch is dedicated to protecting the human rights of all people around the world. The institution stands with victims and activists to bring offenders to justice, to prevent discrimination, to uphold political freedom and to protect people from inhumane conduct in wartime. It investigates and exposes human rights violations and holds abusers accountable. It also challenges governments and those holding power to end abusive practices and respect international human rights law. The effectiveness of Human Rights Watch endures because of the active support of the public and the international community. www.hrw.org

During fundraisers, customers order from the regular menu, as much or as little as they may wish.

No minimum consumption is required.


Oyamel Reservation Phone Number: 703-413-2288

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I'm sorry I didn't answer this sooner, but yes, I'm helping Jose and his (very talented) team by creating and coordinating the Oyamel desserts, and we've been training in the space, making adjustments for the space (which is very tight) and they'll be all set by the weekend. I'll be "in the house" for the Benefit evenings on the 12th and 13th (but not the 14th) if anyone wants to come support the causes and try them. The 14th I fly down to Disneyworld to cook for 800 people. Like my work for Jose at Zaytinya, which was a 2003 James Beard Foundation best new restaurant nominee nationally and is a current Sietsema three-star in the Post, look for similarly crafted and priced desserts at Oyamel which re-work traditional concepts or are designed to showcase Mexican ingredients in new ways: hoja santa leaf, hibiscus, mole poblano, cajeta, almonds, canela-infused chocolate all figure prominently--my personal favorite right now (it changes every day) is the "Cafe de la Olla"--the Mexican spiced strong coffee drink which we've re-interpreted as a plated dessert: milk chocolate-espresso flan spread thin across a shallow bowl, topped with Kahlua gelatin, piloncillo-spice syrup, some chocolate-almond crumble and a scoop of aniseed ice cream. (This is less about the chocolate to me, which just happens to be the wonderful Valrhona "Jivara," and more about the balance between the coffee, from Chiapas-grown beans, the earthiness of the raw sugar and the spices--anise, clove and allspice. The deep dark chocolate lover's dessert will likely be the mole caliente, a warm chocolate cake (made from 72% E. Guittard extra bittersweet) with a crema of mole poblano, some canela-infused hot chocolate drizzled around it and then "sprinkled" with sea salt, roasted peanut, dried corn and cacao nibs.)

The ice cream and sorbets we're making will include selections like cajeta caramel, margarita, yogurt-lime, there will always be a tangy fruit sorbet option like the passionfruit currently, several desserts will have a key frozen component, and I hope what we accomplish here proves as interesting and strong as our Zaytinya dessert efforts have.

Oh, and I can't stop eating the oxtail tacos. You've been warned.

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo


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They will be doing two seating each nite, one from 5-6:30p and the other from 8-9pm. Reservations will be required.

I was thinking about getting a table together for the night of Wed. Oct. 13. Anyone interested?

Wearing jeans to the best restaurants in town.
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I have a couple of extra spots for my reservation tomorrow night (Wed. 13th @ 8pm). If you would like to join our small group of eGers and see what Oyamel is going to be all about PM me.

Wearing jeans to the best restaurants in town.
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Is it worth shlepping to NoVa?

It takes a very good reason for me to go on that side of the Potomac :wink:

Anything to avoid?

True Heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic.

It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost,

but the urge to serve others at whatever cost. -Arthur Ashe

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How's the wine list, Mark?  Do they have really strong cocktails with  top shelf tequila or what?!

Very nice bar. We had the house margarita, which was tasty. There was a decent selection of tequila. The winelist is not completed and is very short. We had a pleasant cabernet from Baja in Mexico.

Edited by Mark Sommelier (log)


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Is it worth shlepping to NoVa?

It takes a very good reason for me to go on that side of the Potomac :wink:

Anything to avoid?

It's certainly worth the trip to VA. See Mark's suggestions on what to eat -- the ceviches (except for the clam :shock: ) and tacos are awesome!!!!

Edited by Minister of Drink (log)

"Whenever someone asks me if I want water with my Scotch, I say, 'I'm thirsty, not dirty' ". Joe E. Lewis

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However, do stay away from the Clam Ceviche -- tastes like detergent :shock:

Clean dishes. I like clean dishes.


Right now, I desperately want to make a totally un-appetizing joke in horrifically bad taste which would, I suspect, be funny to only one or two people out there, but will refrain out of respect for all you good innocently-bystanding people who are the life and pulse of actual conversation and content on this smart, heavyweight forum.


That said, Minister, was it a cilantro thing? Or something really wrong with it?

Edited by eunny jang (log)
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That said, Minister, was it a cilantro thing?  Or something really wrong with it?

No, it was not a cilantro issue. The clam ceviche was a clam sitting in its shell topped with a froth of clam juice and what had to be the ceviche marinade. It looked cool but tasted kinda off.

Edited for spelling

Edited by Minister of Drink (log)

"Whenever someone asks me if I want water with my Scotch, I say, 'I'm thirsty, not dirty' ". Joe E. Lewis

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The only DC ceviche that I have fond feelings for is that delicious goblet at Guajillo. Nowhere else around here does the dish have the heat that I am looking for -- not even the sampler at Ceiba. Does anyone have any other recs? Of course, I was just in Peru and didn't find any I like more than Guajillo, so maybe I am being unreasonable.

Save Pale Male <--- GO HERE!
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I'm pretty sure it was just something limey in the froth (also keep in mind this was just a test meal and that's what those comment cards they handed out were for, hint, hint).

You blitzed through quite a few dishes Monday night - what were some of your favorites? What did you think of the desserts?

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I'm pretty sure it was just something limey in the froth (also keep in mind this was just a test meal and that's what those comment cards they handed out were for, hint, hint).

You blitzed through quite a few dishes Monday night - what were some of your favorites?  What did you think of the desserts?

Yes, you are correct -- it was something limey. I'm sure they'll figure it out in time... maybe even change the dish to chop the clam and combine with the ceviche marinade and lose the froth??? That being said, I did enjoy almost everything I tasted and the service was great. What stands out are the delicious ox-tail tacos, a black bean/mushroom type of soup (sorry I forget the menu name) and of course all of Steve's amazing desserts (will edit my post once I get home and consult my notes).

Overall, not bad at all for only having been open for a few days!!! I look forward to returning soon.

Edited by Minister of Drink (log)

"Whenever someone asks me if I want water with my Scotch, I say, 'I'm thirsty, not dirty' ". Joe E. Lewis

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Is it worth shlepping to NoVa?

It takes a very good reason for me to go on that side of the Potomac :wink:

Anything to avoid?

This place is worth shlepping to NoVa, no question!

Chef Shogun, mnebergall, mktye and her husband, and I had a wonderful dinner last night. mktye discreetly took some pictures of the dishes and they will be posted later.

Here are some of the highlights with as much detail as I remember. I was going to take notes, but forgot about that when the food started to come out. I am sure that the others will correct any mistakes or omissions that I made below.

Salmon Ceviche - cannot remember the details but it was good.

Chicken Tacos - We had an order of each type and these and the braised beef tounge were the top choices of the group. When the tacos are served hot they are much better.

Hangar Steak - served med-rare on thinly sliced pineapple.

Stuffed Poblano - stuffed with pork, walnuts, pears, served cold with a sauce (forgot the type) and pomegranate seeds.

Frijoles Refritos - made with black beans and

Dragon Fruit - cubes of fruit with lime juice and salt

Chicken Soup - Forgot the real name, but it had chickpeas, lime, and ??? The broth was incredible.

Chat with Steve Klc about the desserts

Chocolate Mole Cake - Wonderful warm spice flavors along with the chocolate. The flavors kept changing with each bite.

Goat Milk Cajeta

Milk Chocolate Flan - with a slight anise flavor

edited: The broth was inCredible!!! Thank you Mr. Shogun!

Wearing jeans to the best restaurants in town.
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This report is going to take a while to write up as we shared probably 20-25 different dishes last night. I will not try to describe them all, just the ones that stood out in my mind; I'm sure different dishes stood out for the others and they will chime in with their impressions:

Our server, Carlos, was attentive, knowledgeable, and efficient, no glaring faults with the service.

First, we ordered a round of tacos, one order of each kind on the menu and there are about 5 different kinds: oxtail, barbecued pork, beef tongue, chicken and talapia. Except for the talapia, the tacos are served 3 to a plate and by "plate" I mean a small cardboard container of the type you might get off of a taco truck. I'm sure that "taco truck" is the message they are trying to convey. Anyway, you get three smallish tacos and we cut them in half to share and a half a taco is about one-bite. So, with 5 different tacos, we each got a bite, with one left over (3/2=6). All of the tacos were very good:

The talapia was very, very mild and the salsa they provided was inadequate to punch it up. They give you a basket with freshly made tortillas and there was enough fish on the platter for each of us to have a whole taco.

The other four were more pungent. The beef and pork tacos seemed like they had been left sitting for a while because they were somewhat lukewarm. But that did not detract from their flavor. The beef tongue was one of the favorites and the meat was flavorful with a less stringy texture than the others. I think many of us liked the chicken tacos the best because they were piping hot. I'm sure the other tacos would have tasted better had they been as hot as the chicken tacos were. I'm inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt here because it was, after all, their second night open for business.

We also had three orders of the ceviche: crab, salmon and the seared scallops. My favorite was the crab, which was sort of like a thick bloody Mary with a tomato juice base served in a funnel shaped glass. Others liked the salmon more. The scallops were excellent as well.

Here is where things become sort of a blur. So many different things came by that I have a hard time recollecting my experiences. Skip the creamed corn. The two dishes that stand out are the dragon fruit and the chicken soup. The dragon fruit was one if the highlights of the whole dinner, as was the chicken soup. The dragon fruit came out with the pulp removed from the skin of the fruit, cut into large dice and flavored with fresh lime juice (the server had a fresh lime and a squeezer that he used to put the fresh lime juice on with, table side) and salt. The server described it as having a kiwi texture, but I think it was more like "white watermelon." The flavor/texture experience was totally unexpected. When the dish came out, the skin of the dragon fruit was on the plate but turned with the cut side down, so it sort of looked like a miniature prop from "Invasion of the Body Snatchers." We all were kind of craning our necks trying to get a look at it with a look of apprehension on our faces. Finally, Chef Shogun turned the pod over to reveal that it was empty. Klc said that originally, they served it with the pulp in the skin and diced and turned sort of inside out like a cut mango. If you go to Oyamel, do not miss this dish.

The same goes for the chicken soup. A clear chicken broth with a fresh lime flavor with plenty of shredded chicken, pieces of avocado, rice, a chili pepper floating in it. This soup is definitely something I will order when I go back.

The deserts were all stellar. Steve Klc has done a wonderful job putting together an array of his modern takes on traditional Mexican desserts. The cajeta with goat milk caramel was superb as was the chocolate mole cake and I can't remember what the other chocolate dish was called but it was excellent as well. The fruit desert with the strawberries, blueberries, mango and queso fresco cheese was superb as well. One of the chocolate dishes has a spicy, anise, note on the back of the tongue; very unusual. Klc also brought us little dishes of a dessert soup which had a brunoise of mango, some liquid and a little dab of yogurt ice cream.

We did not partake to any great extent of alcoholic beverages. mdt, Chef Shogun and I each had a class of wine, and I had one of their special Mexican beers which was a dark amber and was tasty.

The tab was about $40/head but would have been much higher with additional drink.

edited to add: Shit, I forgot to say something about the physical plant, decor. Well I guess I have to leave somthing for the others to comment on.

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And here are the pictures.

[And I must apologize for the quality in advance -- Mr. mktye would divorce me (sourdough or no sourdough) if I took this many flash pics in a restaurant, so no flash. And, to further complicate matters, the video card is going kaput in my computer which is a great hinderance in photo editing, so I am pretty much guessing (with some help from mdt) on the brightness levels. :hmmm: Okay, enough excuses.]

My favorite part of the evening -- the "salt air". Sitting at the bar before dinner...

mnebergall: A margarita, please.

bartender: With salt air?

mnerbergall: Salt air?!?

bartender: A mixture of kosher salt, water and a vitamin.

mdt: A vitamin?

bartender: A vitamin.

mktye: Did she say "vitamin"?

mdt: Yes. Twice.

mnebergall declined on the salt air, but since Chef Shogun is a growning young lad and needs all the nutrients he can get... behold...


The Oyamel Margarita with Salt Air

And a tip for those who are brave enough to venture into Crystal City (and possibly even cross the Potomac! :shock: ) in your vehicles -- there is free (nights & weekends) parking underneath Oyamel on the south and east sides of that block. Or you can pay the $4 valet parking.

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