This is not Ba Bar's mackerel, but it looks pretty good.
Everyone wants you to eat mackerel. The Monterey Bay Aquarium, guardians of the Seafood Watch list that's generally considered the last word on sustainable fish, calls certain mackerel a "well-managed and highly resilient species." (Even the most questionable mackerel score a "good alternative" rating from the organization.) The Mayo Clinic says "mackerel is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which helps promote heart health."
But Ba Bar makes you want to eat mackerel. It does so by way of an excellent broiled mackerel wrap, a DIY proposition that neatly achieves the Capitol Hill restaurant's goal of melding traditional recipes with top-notch ingredients.
The mackerel wrap is served on multiple plates: There's a stack of round rice paper sheets; a bowl of warm water and a garnish plate set with slivered carrots, lettuce, clumped rice noodles and a bouquet of fragrant basil leaves. Most customers know what to do: Soak, stuff, roll and eat.
But the mackerel is enticement to skip the construction steps and just swipe the fish through an accompanying dish of hoisin sauce. The shiny fish is oily and strong, with a thin crust of soy sauce and garlic that bring a smack of funk to an otherwise immaculate meeting of flesh and heat. On the best nights, the mackerel is perfectly cooked. And on every night, it's doing right by your cardiovascular system. Eat up.