Image: Chicken Jodhpur
Last Updated: 7/19/2020
Current Status: They have outdoor and indoor seating open. You can order take-out directly from them (with a discount), or delivery through 3rd party providers.
Before Times Review:
Last Visited: September 2019
On a block just out of the foot traffic of Chinatown, light spills out from tall windows. It is a beacon to draw closer those who stray. Karma Modern Indian is a sleek restaurant, built from scratch, stretching over a good portion of the block. It is not only worth a short walk from the Mall or heart of Chinatown, it is worth paying for the cab fare across town.
The cooking is refined Indian. Something that D.C. diners have come to enjoy at Rasika and its siblings. Karma is stepping onto that pitch and the results are more that cricket. Classics like Butter Chicken and Biryani are done well. Palak Paneer is sizable cubes with a deep greens flavor that is irresistible to some. The menu features these classic in addition to more inventive takes like venison peri-peri that offset the rich meat with a spicy, rich sauce. Tandoor-grilled Chicken Jodhpur is seasoned with spices and herbs that is much more flavorful than your standard kebab. They grind and mix the spices in-house. That attention to detail makes the flavors sharp and bold, but not overwhelming.
The cocktail list is long. The bartenders clearly enjoy coming up with interesting combinations, many of which are quite tasty like the gin-based Sleight of Hand that adds St. Germain and Kina L’Aero d’Or for a violet look after mixing. The wine list is not that long, but serviceable, and surprisingly (bravely?) light on Riesling for an Indian place. The service is attentive and knowledgeable about the menu.
Karma manages to draw enough to keep its large space buzzing, but, amazingly, remains under the radar. Which is good for those looking to get in on short notice. But eventually, if the universe is fair, the work and care put in will garner greater recognition. We think it can stand up to some of the best restaurants in D.C.
Other Guidance: It is a nice place, you can dress up if you want but don’t need to. It is Indian, so GF, V diners can do well.
Rating: Worth the Cab Fare
Neighborhood: Chinatown/City Center
Address: 611 I St NW, Washington, DC 20001
Washington Post: Tom, true to form, gave it 2.5, but included it in his Spring 2018 Dining Guide. He also gave it a mostly positive First Bite. It is hard to justify a full star and a half between this and Rasika.
Hungry Lobbyist: Karma is cooking the best Indian food in DC right now (Jan. 2018)