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Washington DC: Oyamel

I enjoyed a wonderful, superb meal at Oyamel. It serves small dishes; I tried to sample as many different types of dishes as I could.

The meal starts out with chips and salsa, but what chips and salsa! The chips are not only the best I've ever had, they were so good that they make me want to never again eat those pale cardboard strips that everyone else passes off as chips. The salsa exhibited the complexity that was the basis for all of the dishes: the base isn't just tomato but also tomatillo and other ingredients; the chiles were clearly of several varieties, some smoked, each with their own contribution.

This is the bass ceviche. The acid taste is just enough to be fresh, not overwhelming. The bass was cooked just enough without being either too raw or too tough. Several other citrus flavors and a bit of pepper complemented the bass.

These fries are coated with a chocolate mole sauce and a crema sauce. The mole had all the complexity that you expect of a great mole; none of the component flavors overwhelm the others. The fries themselves were perfect, possibly fried in lard.

I had to try the grasshopper taco. Grasshopper is not a metaphor. Yes, if you look carefully, you can see the little grasshopper legs. The texture was a little scratchy but not hard. A dollop of guacamole was at the bottom. If it weren't for that, those little buggers would be dry but the overall effect was very nice. I noticed a definite citrusy taste, which I think came from the grasshoppers themselves.

The duck was extremely tender, just falling off the bone with the slightest push from my fork. The mole sauce was rich and subtle.

A chocolate dessert was an inevitability. The chocolate itself was of the richer, more robust style that one expects from Mexican chocolate. A nice citrus note is a great way to complement the strong chocolate.

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