Teaism is a DC chain known primarily for its tea, but also its economical yet tasty Japanese food. I can tell you it was the small expense that attracted me to it and made me note it down after seeing a brief write-up in Fodor’s. A sticker on the door noted its inclusion in Rachael Ray’s 40 Dollars a Day program on the Food Network, so I knew we had come to the right place.
Our visit was timed perfectly – we hit the restaurant just before the midday crowd arrived (the line inched out the door soon after we sat down), but were still privy to witness the bustling business they experience at lunch. The interior was warm – medium-tone wood counters wrapped around one side of the room, which displayed Asian-inspired art and calligraphy. The restaurant also benefited from a generous amount of natural light, much of it also being enjoyed by windowsill plants.
Iced Tea (Mack found it all right – refreshing, and not overly sweet)
The menu actually waivered more from their Japanese billing than I expected, offering some pan-Asian favourites such as Thai chicken curry, as well as some Western dishes, like sandwiches and burgers. Most entrees were $8-9, which we thought was fairly reasonable given its proximity to high traffic attractions (a guide called eat. shop. washington dc also mentioned their exceptional salty-sweet cookies – the site is worth taking a look for solid recommendations for DC and other major American cities). Orders were taken and picked up at the counter, which although worked out all right, caused some bottlenecking at the front of the restaurant.
My eyes were immediately drawn to the chicken udon soup ($8.50), primarily because of a recipe I read on the plane. The broth was a touch salty, but the consistency of the udon was perfect. I was also satisfied with the amount of chicken and vegetables included, which rounded out the meal nicely.
Chicken Udon Soup
Mack ordered a chicken bento box ($8.75), which contained fried chicken, rice, sweet potatoes and cucumber-ginger salad. He remarked that the meat was on the dry side, although the creamy potatoes made up for it somewhat.
Chicken Bento Box
While I’m not sure Teaism is unique enough to recommend to travellers (at least not this non-teahouse outpost we visited), it was a sleek restaurant that provided the needed reprieve from the sun and schoolchildren outside.
400 8th Street (and other locations)