Some nights you just can't decide what you want for dinner. On these kind of nights, we're glad we live in downtown and can just wander out the door and walk until we stumble across something that sounds good. On this particular evening we headed toward sushi at Sushi Aoi but were told it would be a 30 minute wait for takeout. Instead, we went next door to Mazu.
Mazu is located on the corner of New York Avenue and 11th street and, as many times as we walk by it, I always forget it is there. It, like so many other restaurants in DC, serves an eclectic Asian fusion menu. Their website says that their "meticulously selected assortment of Pan-Asian cuisine fuse tradition with contemporary flare, to create a culinary excursion into the elaborate palate of the Orient." Huh? I think all of that mumbo-jumbo translates to "we want to appeal to the widest variety of people possible so we're not focusing on any particular thing."
We didn't really care whether it was focused or authentic, we just wanted some food that we could take home and eat in front of the TV. Though told the food would be ready in 10 minutes, it was probably closer to 25 minutes before we had the food in hand. We didn't mind the wait on the big patio but we probably could've had food from Sushi Aoi and been on our way home before our order at Mazu was finished. Oh, and while we waited on the patio, we had our backs turned to the TVs inside the restaurant because we were recording one of the Final Four games and didn't want to know the result. Just as we were about to head home, a tourist wanders down the sidewalk, sees the TV and screams "oooh 2 seconds left, the underdog is going to win!" Thanks for ruining the Butler game, dude.
Anyway, back to the food. We ordered the Spicy Yellowtail Roll (left) and the Kalbi Roll (right). I think their sushi chef was trained in the land at the end of Jack's beanstalk because these rolls were ginormous. I really liked the spicy sauce combined with the smooth yellowtail in the first roll but there is something about beef in a sushi roll that just isn't right to me. It was very tasty but felt wrong.
Next was an assortment of nigiri (yellowtail, salmon, and tuna) served with sliced jalapenos. I thought the jalapenos distracted from the fish and preferred to leave them off. The fish was fresh and the portions were generous.
We definitely didn't need any more food but I was craving noodles so we ended up with the pad thai. The flavor was your run-of-the-mill pad thai but the thin glass-like noodles added a more interesting dimension.
While the food was good and filled our needs on this particular night, it isn't cheap enough to be our go-to takeout option (don't worry Kabab House, we still love you the most).
I've heard that Mazu has a great happy hour and they must because the place is usually empty when I walk by during non-happy hour times. It appears they carry their eclectic theme through to their drink specials: Sapporo and margaritas???
Second Thoughts from B
To quote a friend of ours... Boring! The food was about as generic as their description was flowery. But before you go thinking that I didn't like it, let me explain.
Mazu's take on sushi and pad thai was exactly what you would expect. Nothing more and nothing less. Is this a bad thing? Not always. And in the case of take out, it hit the mark.
Reliable might not make us rave about a place but there is something to be said about food that is around the corner and predictable. We weren't looking for fine dining that would dazzle our taste buds or expand our appreciation of culinary artistry. We were hungry, we wanted Asian food, and we didn't want to have to change clothes and make a reservation to do it. Boring? Yes. "Fit for Foodies" as OpenTable likes to ask? No. Worth a trip back on another lazy night? Sure...