SEI Restaurant DC


SEI DC is kind of like OYA’s little sister (: very similar decor, but two very different experiences.  i planned a birthday dinner for my mother at OYA two years ago.  for a party of about 10, we had a nice large seating area all to ourselves.  we started with wine.. appetizers.. entrees.. & birthday carrot cake for dessert.  the most stressful part was the $$$ bill.  at SEI, well..  it definitely felt smaller.  ..a lot dimmer..  a lot.. younger?  and a lot more stressful.  starting with how dark it was.  i literally needed the candle light to read the menu. 

…once illuminated, the selection was a little overwhelming.  lol, so much to choose from!  the cocktail list was a little intimidating with ingredients such as egg white in the japanese whiskey sour and habanero & ginger in the liquid wasabi.  yikes!  i went with my faithful lemon drop martini & my guest tried the popular asian pear sangria (very yummy!  pear vodka, vanilla, sparkling wine, pear puree).. 

the sushi list was extensive.  since i dont eat seafood, the menu looked like more of what i cant have than what i can.  we started off with the wasabi guacamole (w/tofu, wonton chips) as an appetizer.  it seems this was a diner’s favorite as well, as almost every table around us had the same.  offering a selection of small plates as well as big plates, one thing SEI’s menu doesn’t lack is options!  i went with small plates of kobe sliders (w/ tomato jam, tempura onion rings) and baby bok choy, my guest chose the three course prix fixe of miso spicy salmon sushi roll (w/ baked salmon, crispy onions, tempura crunch, shiso), short ribs (w/ wasabi potatoes, miso demi) and orange miso bread pudding (w/ soy caramel ice cream) for dessert. 

the food was tasty.  nothing to write home about.  …at all (except the bread pudding! wonderful flavors!!).  but no disappointments.  some small plates/tapas restaurants bring one course or dish at a time.  we were brought everything at one time (minus the dessert).  maybe this encourages the parties to share.. however, when the table is only but so big, it also takes up a lot of space.  with the “here ya go!” delivery of the food, the wait staff buzzing around like busy bees, and the repeated “are you finished with that plate?” question, we couldnt help but feel a little rushed.  i wasnt too happy about it. 

we split the bill down the middle.. my portion being $55 without the tip.  for 2 mini burgers, some spinach, and two premium cocktails, a question mark kind of loomed over my head.  for $55 (+$10) i want to at least leave FULL.  lol.  i guess thats what happens when you split the bill dutch. 

this restaurant was crowded… but for a friday night.. 7pm, i guess thats a good thing.  reservations strongly suggested, or you will most likely be in for a wait.. or welcome to a seat at the bar.  i saw a mix of people, but mostly looked like young couples or dates.. a few “bros” with orders of sushi & glasses of beer, and a few clusters of females looking like “ladies night” type outtings.  i wouldn’t recommend this restaurant for a first date.  it’s way too dim and not the quietest most engaging atmosphere (unless you happen to request the most secluded seat in the place.. &i couldnt imagine where that would be).  SEI is perfect for dinner before or after a movie or game at the verizon center, ..or perfect for an office lunch.  i’d even suspect their happy hour is pretty good.  sushi lovers would also love this restaurant.

will i return?  ummm… probably not.  i prefer OYA.  OYA seems to have more american cuisine with asian influences.  SEI is a little more dedicated to creating interesting bites with strong asian influences.  if i were into seafood, i would definitely return for the sushi bar.. unfortunately, im not.  i’m glad i finally dined here though! (:

444 7th Street NW
Washington, DC 20004
202.783.7007 for menu, prices, reservations & more

xoxo, ZOE

  1. February 5th, 2011

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