DC Weekend Brunch at SEI

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If you’ve been following the blog, you know that my current goal is moving to California. Since high school, Troy and I have dreamed of moving there; at first I struggled with the thought, because I couldn’t fathom leaving my family. However, once I moved away for college I started realizing that my 20s are the time to take on adventures like this. It’s become one of those things that if I never do it, I’ll regret it the rest of my life. So, as my days in the district dwindled, I made sure to say goodbye to my favorite parts of the city. A DC weekend brunch is my all-time favorite outing, so naturally I texted my sister and we made it happen.

The night before, my phone chimed throughout the evening as Emily and I spit-balled potential brunch spots. We debated going somewhere we’ve already been or trying someplace new. We chose the latter, and I’m so happy we did! Our brunch of choice was SEI, a modern Asian restaurant located in the heart of Penn Quarter. Plus, they serve sushi at brunch. Uhhh, that’s a no-brainer!

Before any cuisine touched my taste buds, I fell in love with SEI. It was cherry blossom season when I dined here, and the background of the bar had a frame with a mirrored back, full of cherry blossoms. Plus, a large vase of them stood tall and proud on the bar itself. The only way to describe the interior is regal. Large windows that are halfway frosted let in plenty of natural light and provide a perfect view of the street. The ability to people-watch could keep any awkward date full of conversation. Every chair is white with gold embellishments and the layout, paired with the natural light, make the space feel gigantic. The food presentation is gorgeous, the menu is exciting, and the atmosphere makes you feel like you’re a millionaire.

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The food here is absolutely fantastic. Naturally, a DC weekend brunch isn’t complete without bottomless mimosas, and man did SEI deliver. Unabashedly, we chatted and laughed as we gazed at the menu, our drinks never falling below the halfway point.

On the menu
Spicy Tuna Rolls: sashimi grade tuna with quinoa and sticky rice
Crab cake Benedict: rice cake, poached eggs, yuzu hollandaise, tofu hash
Korean Kalbe Tacos: BBQ short rib, kimchi slaw, sriracha sour cream, soft scramble

The spicy tuna rolls were good, but I don’t think I liked the quinoa in it as much as I thought I would. Definitely would have preferred stuffing it with vegetables or maybe even another type of fish. However, for what it was it was good. 

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Now, the crab cake benedict — whoaaaaaaa was that fantastic! First of all, Emily and I shared this entire meal and I was preparing to cut one rice cake dish in half. However, it’s a generous portion of TWO rice cakes layered with sauteed spinach, crab cakes, and poached eggs. I’ve never had a more perfectly poached egg and the crab cake on sushi rice is a match made in heaven. I even ate every bite of the tofu hash! It was a scrumptious mix of edamame, onion, tomatoes, and a few other vegetables. 

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I looked up what a Kalbe taco is; I saw other spellings like kalbi or Galbi but it’s basically the word for a Korean taco. Most commonly, they feature short ribs or some style of Korean BBQ meat on a Mexican corn tortilla, piled high with all sorts of toppings. SEI’s featured a kimchi slaw and scrambled eggs. I can safely say I’ve never had a taco with scrambled eggs on it. Now I’m a fan! The meat was just as tender as I was anticipating and even though I’m not a fan of kimchi, I didn’t mind a little bit mixed in with a bite or two. 

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If you’re looking for a brunch spot that will make you feel like high society, make a reservation here! The wait staff is friendly without being intrusive and extra props to them for keeping our glasses full during a bottomless brunch.

Needless to say, there was lots of giggling as the afternoon went on. We meandered down the city streets and I took deep breaths while absorbing every sight and sound around me. We talked about our upcoming goals, wedding planning, and everything in between. From the restaurant, we headed to my absolute favorite and first love of DC: Eastern Market.

We visited Pridon, a Georgian artist whose work I fell madly in love with when I first moved to the district. Emily visited me one weekend, and his stand stood out to us from all the others. Since then, we’ve both started a small collection of his work. Each time he greets me, he gives me a kiss on both cheeks and says, “Ahh! My friend! How are you?” He always has a smile and he does amazing work. I even have a one-of-a-kind piece of his; for my graduation gift, Emily commissioned him to do a painting of my favorite spot on GW’s campus, just as I had done for hers. With mixed emotions, I said goodbye to him and promised to be a life-long customer.

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There’s really nothing like spending time with your sister. I’m the youngest of two, and I always feel incredibly lucky that I’m so close with Emily. She comforted me as I mourned leaving DC; she took part in my excitement talking about California; best of all, she laughs at every bizarre face I make or joke I tell. My heart hurts to know that we will no longer be living 5 minutes apart, but no matter where in the world we are we’ll always be making time to visit each other and find the city’s best brunches. 

Don’t forget…

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