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Maketto on H St, NE is the latest venture from Chef Erik Bruner-Yang of Toki Underground. It is notable for being maybe the only place in the DC area to offer a few Cambodian dishes. So that was our goal. We first asked how they distinguish Cambodian cuisine: heavy on the aromatics, and more reliant on fish sauce and tamarind than coconut milk.
With that in mind we ordered four items:
Khmer Tamarind Salad
Leek Steamed Bun (Taiwanese)
Cambodian Fish Curry
The online menu reads a bit differently.
The salad at $9 is a ripoff, consisting mostly of a chopped heirloom tomato, I think a purple cherokee. I guess the salad changes seasonally. Not much evidence that the tamarind in the dressing was charred as announced. It was a tiny swab of sweet tamarind sauce. None of the other elements added much. I think there were little dollops of goat cheese. On the scale of Asian salads, I say this was a fail.
The soup delivered on the promise of their idea of Cambodian cuisine, with a vigorous fish sauce flavor punctuated with aromatics. The chicken in the soup was too 'white meat' inert to have the impact of a real Asian soup, though.
The bun was well prepared, toasted on the bottom, but the filling was awful. Leek mashed with (maybe) white pepper. Perhaps the pork belly bun is better. This was a mistake.
Our last dish was the best, red snapper served on a banana leaf. It didn't taste like it was cooked in the leaf, though, so not as good as the banana leaf dishes at Thip Khao, but another good example of using mostly aromatics for flavor with only a bit of sauce.
I will not hurry back, and if I want Taiwanese snacks, I trust A&J more.
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