Supra: Georgian Cuisine in D.C.

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The last time I was in D.C. (2012), I spent the summer there, and while I ate a lot of good food that time, the food scene in the District has changed considerably – in a good way. Since I was in town for a wedding, I made sure to hit up restaurants and museums while I was there for the weekend. The scene is lit – the food is on another level. Thankfully I have a cousin who lives there and she recommended we try out Georgian cuisine – a first for any of us.

Supra
1205 11th St NW, Washington, DC 20001
https://www.supradc.com/

Supra opened a month before I got there, and it’s Washington D.C.’s first Georgian restaurant. As much as I loved the food, something else that caught my attention was the furniture. They just gave the place an authentic vibe. It made me want to be the proud owner of georgian furniture after visiting this place! Anyway, back to the food. The owners, Jonathan and Laura Helms, have a deep appreciation for Georgian cuisine, having traveled and lived in Russia and Georgia throughout their career and even dined at the now executive chef’s restaurant in Tbilisi, Georgia. Executive Chef Malkhaz Maisashvili, former chef of the Embassy of Georgia, wanted to introduce D.C. to the cuisine’s stews and soup dumplings, among other things while also putting a modern twist on the cuisine.

Supra – the name, that is – means both a Georgian traditional tablecloth as well as an abundant Georgian feast. When you enter the restaurant, there are unique interior touches that pay homage to the culture, but it’s also a modern fine dining space. Luckily, Supra takes reservations (a rarity in San Francisco) so we walked right in and made our way to our table. The chef was walking around and also taking orders, so we asked for recommendations – and he suggested to try the imported Georgian sodas. Happy I tried them, but not really my thing, stick with your usual beverage of choice.

Georgian cuisine has a lot of similarities to Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food, so it’s something I’m very familiar with. Supra is family style and small plates, so we ordered small plates from the “hot” section. I mean, it was December, so it was cold. We started off with the Elarji, cornmeal and cheese croquettes with almond sauce and red ajika. Ajika is a spicy dip; it reminds me of spicy chutneys that are often found in Middle Eastern and South Asian cuisine, especially Afghan food. The croquettes were delicious and the cheese was nice and stringy. We also ordered Kale Moshushuli, which was sautéed kale, garlic and svanuri salt. I thought this would have more unique flavor, but it ended up being a standard sautéed kale.

Khachapuri is a traditional Georgian dish that is essentially cheese-filled bread. Supra offers several variations, ones filled with vegetables, eggs, and meat. It immediately caught my eye, not only because it’s bread (I love carbs), but because of the “puri” part in the word. In Pakistani cuisine, puris are a flaky, quickly deep fried bread, so if it had any similarity then I was sold. We ordered the Pkhlovani, which has spinach and cheese. It’s much thicker than paper thin puris, but it’s packed with cheese and spinach. I would liken it to a calzone, and Georgians actually prefer Khachapuri to pizza.

And this is the reason we came – Khinkali, Georgian soup dumplings. I know soup dumplings are extremely popular Chinese cuisine (xiaolongbao), so it was cool to see the Asian influence in Georgian food. This was my first time having any type of soup dumpling, so I was very excited. It comes out on a tray with a small cup of water with a lemon and a pepper grinder. To eat (according to our waiter), you dip your hands into the water bowl to wet your fingers, hold the soup dumpling by the top and carefully bite in. Then you slurp the broth and meat inside! I’m not totally sure if this is the “correct” way to eat it, but we did it. The table across from us was watching us to see how we did it – maybe we were just making fools of ourselves… haha. Either way, the broth had a hearty beefy flavor and very comforting on a cold day. And it’s also addicting.

And finally, we ordered two kebabs – the Chicken, marinated in sour cream and served with alike and tkemali, and Lamb, marinated in yogurt with alike and tkemali. Tkemali is a sour plum sauce. The lamb was delicious and cooked perfectly but the chicken was just okay. We didn’t order any larger plates since we had so many things on our table.

Supra is definitely worth checking out. It’s fun to try a new and underexposed cuisine, and I always enjoy seeing the commonalities and influences from other cultures!

Iman

I’m Bay Area born and bred, and hella proud of it. I grew up in the middle of the Bay Area near the Peninsula, spent the first half of my college years in the South Bay, and the latter in the East Bay. Living in the Bay Area has given me the opportunities to meet people from all backgrounds, and try their amazing and unique foods, too. Growing up in a Pakistani family, food is an essential part of our culture. Whether it’s making sure to have a fresh pot of Chai ready to serve guests or ensuring that they have had seconds so they eat thirds, food is central to our family and social lives. With immigrant parents, that extended to trying out new and unknown cuisines that simply aren’t in Pakistan. While I remember trying to copy my mom as a kid, trying to make my own perfectly round little rotis, I never became interested in cooking. I was more interested in reading, graphic design, and making my own websites. I originally started Bay Food in 2010 simply as a way for me to dump all of my food photos during my first year in college. This was before Instagram became a thing and everyone would constantly share what they’re eating on Facebook. It evolved into writing reviews, showcasing other people’s photos, and my own food experiments and recipes while still exploring what the vast Bay Area has to offer. Three weeks before I was set to graduate from college, I went into cardiac arrest in April 2013, which sped up my process to putting myself onto the heart transplant list. I’ve dealt with a heart condition for my whole life, after going into heart failure at seven months old. As a result of that incident, I had a pacemaker for a year while I waited to improve my physical condition to be the strongest I could be for the transplant process. This also meant lifestyle changes, including my diet. This is reflected in how I focus on home cooking more than I used to. I try to make lower sodium and heart healthy foods that still maintain bold and bright flavors that I’m used to from my Pakistani upbringing. Thankfully, I received a heart in April 2014 at the age of 23, just a short four and a half months after being placed on the list. Onward to becoming a functioning adult that can stay healthy and enjoy a lifetime of burritos! When I’m not eating delicious food, I watch far too much TV for my own good, spend too many hours on the internet looking at clothes and Wikipedia, laugh a little too hard at celebrity gossip, and sleep at the worst times possible. I’m looking forward to showcasing the wide array of food the whole Bay Area has to offer, and some of my own creations too!

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