As my blog has grown, I’ve gotten more opportunities to check out restaurants, bars, and brands. It’s always a treat to be one of the first people to try a new place. It’s even better to be able to write about the experience and share it with you.
A couple of weeks ago, I received an invite to check out Yara, one of Washington, D.C.’s newest (opening soon) rooftop restaurants. I had the pleasure of attending the preview event. It sits atop the newly opened Washington Marriott Capitol Hill in the NoMa neighborhood (on the 13th floor, to be exact). It’ll be open for dinner with a menu filled with seafood and shareable dishes starting April 27, 2023. Yara offers dishes with traditional and modern spins that are inspired by Executive Chef Yuki Nakandakari’s Peruvian and Japanese ancestry.
Thursday and Sunday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 4 p.m. to midnight
“Yara” comes from South American folklore about a princess who was turned into a mermaid by an Amazonian god. The restaurant’s logo has mermaid tails, which is a nod to this story.
After walking through the doors, the hallway that leads to the bar has a vibrant mural of greenery. It’s a beautiful transition to the outdoor space. When you walk through the next set of doors, you’ll be in the outdoor seating area with booths; tables for two; and a corner with sofas.
WHAT I TRIED
The menu includes ceviches, entraditas (sharables), nikkeis (Peruvian-Japanese food items), principales, signature cocktails, wines, and beers. There’s also a zero-proof mojito.
The mastermind behind the menu is Executive Chef Yuki Nakandakari. There’s a story behind virtually every part of this menu. One of my favorite stories that he shared was about the Rosita Yimura Pulpo al Olivo, a seafood dish made with octopus, arare, masago, and botijera sauce topped with a shiny, 24k dust. This dish was named after Executive Chef Yuki’s Aunt Rosita who had a restaurant where a patron asked her to make a dish he (the patron) tried in Europe. When he told her the ingredients, she used what she had to make something similar. Rosita didn’t have olive oil, so she used Peruvian black olives to make the botijera sauce (a black olive sauce). The patron thought Rosita’s Pulpo al Olivo was a lot better than what he had in Europe! The menu items alone are beautiful and vibrant, but the stories enhance them.
My welcome cocktail was the signature Yara Caïpirinha (below), which was made with Cachaça, rum, passionfruit, lime, and mint. A caïpirinha is a classic Latin cocktail traditionally made with muddled limes, sugar, Cachaça, and ice.
This drink was one of the most refreshing cocktails I’ve ever had. I loved that it was well-balanced and bright. Mint, lime, and passion fruit make a great flavor combination. The mint, banana leaf, and orange slice were beautiful garnishes.
Although there were breathtaking views of Washington, D.C., it was Executive Chef Yuki Nakandakari’s passion for Yara that truly made this event special. I had the pleasure of meeting him and learning more about the first plate. Pictured below, the first plate featured two ceviches and a Peruvian chicken sandwich.
When this plate was brought out, I could smell the freshness. I’ve never experienced anything quite like it. The food tasted just as fresh as it looked and smelled. This was my first time trying ceviche. These two ceviches had a beautiful flavor contrast.
First, I tried the Amazónico (top). It had Verlasso salmon, plátano maduro, sweet drop peppers, passion fruit leche de tigre (tiger’s milk). Tiger’s Milk is a citrus-based, spicy marinade used to cure the fish in classic Peruvian ceviche.
The Amazónico was on the sweeter side and had a couple of my favorite things: salmon and plantain. These were two ingredients that I never considered putting together. The sweet drop peppers added a beautiful touch.
The Traditional – Clásico
The second ceviche (right), The Traditional – Clásico, was made with halibut, sweet potatoes, choclo (Peruvian corn), cancha (corn nut/toasted corn), and diablo leche de tigre. The choclo was corn from Machu Picchu.
The Traditional – Clásico had a tangy flavor that I enjoyed. The halibut tasted amazing with the corn and sweet potatoes. The cancha added a nice texture element. It’s something I’ve never seen in seafood dishes.
My last signature cocktail was called La Vid. It’s a signature cocktail made with Pisco Cuatro, vodka, desert pear, and mint. The mint and cinnamon garnishes were nice touches. I thought the burlap wrapped around it was a very interesting addition. This was a well-balanced and refreshing cocktail. I loved the desert pear and mint flavor combination so much.
I enjoyed this sneak peek event so much! It was a pleasure to attend and see such beautiful dishes. Thank you to everyone who made this event possible. It was amazing! Yara is the rooftop restaurant with gorgeous views that you’ll want to be visiting this spring/summer.
175 L St NE, Washington, DC 20002
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I hope this message finds you well. I just wanted to take a moment to express my gratitude for your attendance at our soft opening. It was truly a pleasure to meet you and share my passion for food with you. I’m thrilled to hear that you enjoyed learning about the intimate histories behind each dish on our menu.
I want you to know that at Yara, we are fully committed to providing our guests with the very best experience possible. From the food and drinks to the ambiance, music, and stunning views of our city, we strive to create an unforgettable experience for everyone who walks through our doors.
Once again, thank you so much for joining us for our soft opening. Your support means the world to us, and we look forward to seeing you again soon.
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Hi, Yuki! It was great meeting you at the soft opening. Hearing about your passion for your food and how you incorporated your culture and stories into your food really made everything so special. It was a great pleasure to be invited to the event.
Yara is such a vibrant and beautiful place. I’m sure people will love it. I can’t wait to visit again!