Saturday, January 19, 2013

Hogo

Hogo (a new rum-focused bar from the Passenger's Tom and Derek Brown) is part of a project called Temporary Works that hopes to bring new late-night dining options to DC by giving talented chefs a platform to cook bar food with their own twists.  Hogo is an abbreviated form of the French term haut goût that describes the "high taste" or funk that comes from rotting meat, but is also used for the untamed funk of rums with lower distillation proofs.  Closest Metro is Mt. Vernon Square/7th Street/Convention Center.

Photo: Daily Candy
Hogo features tattoo-esque murals painted on black walls, such as a zombie skeleton Elvis on black velvet and a mermaid on the hood of an old Pontiac.  Most cool is the painting of Bill Murray in character as Steve Zissou that greets you at the front door.

Hogo takes the Passenger’s low-key vibe and drops it in an unnamed (and perhaps undetermined) Caribbean location, shifting the focus from rye whiskey to rum in all its forms. Standout cocktails include the Singapore Sling, a classic made with Bombay Dry Gin, Fundador Brandy, Combier rouge, Benedictine, fresh lime, and soda; Blackheart’s punch, with Cruzan Blackstrap rum, cinnamon, and tonic water; and the Pinky Gonzalez, a variant of the Mai Tai featuring blanco and reposado tequila in place of the light and dark rum. For the premiere month, Hogo focused on Hawaiian bar food as interpreted by Chef Javier Duran who grew up in California. Items include SPAM Musubi served with a wasabi aioli, and two variations on Loco Moco. Having grown up in Hawaii, this is what draws me to Hogo.

Singapore Sling and Jungle Bird
The main kitchen with a "diner bar" set up is located in the far back, but with limited seating we chose to sit in the front bar area.  There are plenty of tables and booths here and since you can order food from a server, this was the better choice to truly appreciate the ambience of Hogo.  For drinks, Keith first started out with the Singapore Sling and I chose the Jungle Bird, made with Blackwell Jamaican Rum, Campari, pineapple, and lime juice.  His sling was very tart and citrusy, and came served in a cute tiki glass.  He enjoyed this drink so much that he ordered another.  My drink came with the standard umbrella but was not as sugary-sweet as most tropical drinks can be, which was nice.  The rum was very strong and I appreciated the extra crushed ice on top, as it slowly melted to even out the drink.

For food, I ordered the SPAM Musubi and the Miso Saimin.  The musubi was presented more like sushi with an odd wasabi aioli on the side.  This is not customary to traditional SPAM Musubi from Hawaii, but was an interesting addition. The rice was overcooked and mushy and the $7 price tag was a bit high, but I enjoyed the dish overall.  The saimin was more like ramen as it came with a soft egg, carrots, bok choy, and pork belly.  The soup broth itself could have been hotter and more flavorful. Keith went for the Mixed Plate, which came with kalbi, Kalua pork, rice and mac salad.  Although he would have liked another piece of kalbi, this dish was very good and close to the original from the islands.  Despite the odd orange color of the mac salad, the taste was nearly identical and surprisingly passed the test.  Starting February 1, the menu changes to Jewish soul food and Rose's Luxury is panning a preview pop up here in March.

Hogo Drink Menu
(Click to view larger version)
Bahia Ahumada
With the changing food menu, the drinks menu should remain the same and features both classics and original concoctions by the bartenders.  After finishing our food, we ordered more drinks.  This time Keith tried the Blackbeard's Punch but the cinnamon syrup was overpowering and gave the drink a Christmas-y feel.  Loving piña coladas, I chose the similar Bahia Ahumada which is made with Mezcal instead of rum.  The tequila flavor was very strong and tasted a little off to me when mixed with the coconut cream.  But Keith tasted it and found it to be just fine - in fact he finished off the drink in the end.

With loud music, an approachable bar scene with strong drinks, and a monthly changing culinary experiment from Temporary Works, Hogo is cool addition to the area and a must visit for both locals and visitors alike.

Total Rating: 3.6
Food: 3.5, Price: 4, Service: 3, Ambience: 3.5, Accessibility: 4.5

What I ate:
SPAM Musubi
with wasabi aoili

Miso Saimin
with soft egg, carrots, bok choy, and pork belly

Plus Keith ate:
Mixed Plate
kalbi, Kalua pork, rice, and mac salad

Hogo on Urbanspoon

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