A few weeks ago, my friend and I decided to try somewhere fun and new for dinner on a Saturday night. Lately, this seems to be easier said than done, especially if you want a reservation and don’t want to wait hours for a table.
While scanning OpenTable, the listing Maketto at Hanoi House piqued my interest. I didn’t realize that Erik Bruner-Yang of Toki Underground was doing a three-month residency there to test out the menu for his new restaurant on H Street, slated to open later this year.
The concept was $30 per person for a prix-fixe meal of seven courses, in the cuisine of Cambodian and Taiwanese food. This seemed similar to Little Serow, but with actual reservations available, and online no less. We couldn’t pass up the chance to try Bruner-Yang’s food without waiting hours for a table, so off we went!
We started out with simple udon noodles with a salted egg and a separate bowl of ponzu sauce for dipping. These were some of the freshest noodles I have tasted – thick but also light at the same time.
The second dish was called Okonomoiyaki, which was a Japanese fish cake. It was also prepared with pork belly, shrimp and some shaved mackerel on top. It packed incredible flavor and was a great indication of what was to come. I loved how the spice gave the dish a kick but didn’t completely overwhelm it either.
The third and fourth dishes came together. The first was Prahok Kh’Tih, which was like a spicy dip blended with ground chicken and came with a side of fresh raw vegetables for dipping as well as some white rice to help soak up the sauce. I only wished there were more vegetables for us to dip with. The other dish was called Samlah Machu Kroueng, and it was a big bowl of soup with chicken wings, vegetables, and lemongrass. It was delicious, but not my favorite dish of the night.
While we were eating these two plates, the dim sum cart rolled by. We were on our way to getting full with even more food coming, but it was hard to pass up on at least trying one or two items at only two dollars a piece. We wound up ordering a steamed pork bun and a spicy corn dish that the server recommended.
Moving on, the last two savory dishes that came together were Mapo Tofu and Taiwanese fried chicken. The fermented tofu dish was probably the only one that was a little too spicy for me, so I didn’t eat too much of it. At that point, I realized that they would pack home anything we didn’t finish, so Brett got to enjoy that one later. If only I knew that with some of the other dishes, too!
The fried chicken was incredible. They were small, boneless pieces that were tender and worked wonderfully well with the accompanying dipping sauce. We both remarked how we would order the fried chicken as a separate to-go order.
Just when we couldn’t eat any more, out came dessert. I didn’t know what to expect since the dish was called Vigilante Coffee. It was actually beignets served over coffee beans and came with a foamy dipping sauce. It was the perfect ending to a fun and adventurous meal.
If our outing to Maketto was any indication for how the real restaurant will be on H Street, then DC is in for a treat and another blockbuster hit from Erik Bruner-Yang. Go while you still can – the residency ends October 31.