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The Royal Noodle, $22 Maine Attraction, $20 Tuna Tower, $20 The Crunchy Salsa Roll, $15 Big Eye Tuna Steak, $17 Strawberry Basil Mojito, $9 Hours: Sunday - Wednesday, noon to 11 p.m. Thursday - Saturday, noon to 3 a.m.
Scout Notes: When Chef Peter Kunnasute talks about cooking, his eyes light up like a DC sportscaster's do when talking about RGIII. That is to say he not only loves cooking, but he's truly passionate about it. He believes in it. "I love the creativity involved," he told me on the roofdeck of Zabb Modern Asian, where he was putting the finishing touches on a whimsical dish he calls the Tuna Tower. "I love to see people's reactions, to make them happy." The dish certainly made me smile, as well as Iron Chef Hiroyuki Sakai, who Chef Peter previously studied under, and an awards committee. The Tuna Tower won a coveted Morikami award in 2006. Yes, Chef Peter is the real deal and, luckily, his plates are as tasty as they are aesthetically pleasing. One part Thai, one part Japanese and a whole lot of great technique, the food here is never ordinary. For instance, Zabb Modern's version of pad thai, The Royal Noodle, trades in common shrimp for two giant Thai prawns (literally, almost the size of two small lobsters) and the rice noodles for spaghetti noodles. The result is a flavorful combination of Western textures with Eastern flavors. Another outstanding dish (also a Morikami winner) is the Maine Attraction, where Maine lobsters finds its way into a sushi roll. Even the drinks get an artistic twist here. The Strawberry Basil Mojito is one of the best cocktails in town.