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Restaurants & Bars 3

Kyirisan in Shaw

ChristinaMason | Jul 10, 2016 12:52 PM

Curious whether anyone else has been to Kyirisan yet? It was written up in the WaPo this past week, but luckily, I had already reserved a table the week prior for my husband's birthday. Overall we thought it was very good, if much more of a "scene" than we were prepared for. Some highlights and notes:

Upon walking in, I immediately had second thoughts. The stark, modern space was positively booming (lots of concrete and wood and very little in the way of soft furnishings to absorb sound). It was also packed with trendy 20-somethings mentally crafting their Yelp reviews and taking selfies. I felt old. But the host was very welcoming, and we forged ahead.

Two Millennials next to us were eagerly discussing their dishes, so we got some tips on what to order. The beer selection was good - plenty of affordable craft options. We decided to order a couple of dishes and see how things went before committing to a whole meal. Our approach worked perfectly with the small-plate format.

We had:
-Sea bass with orange and fish sauce aioli, which was finely diced and reminded me of kinilaw or coconut-milk ceviche. It was positively delicious, beautifully presented in a big swipe across a clay platter. So far, so good. The neighboring table did not steer us wrong.

-Scallops with coconut-milk rice and basil ice cream. The small sea scallops were perfectly cooked and served in a loose, creamy risotto-like coconut rice. The melting savory ice cream was a fun play on temperature and textural differences. Really excellent.

-Black pepper tofu - crispy starch-dusted cubes of tofu in a deeply savory, soy-heavy sauce. I detected Maggi and maybe ponzu ssauce - my husband agreed there was something very familiar about it (we cook a lot of Asian at home). This was perfectly decent but cried out for rice to balance the extremely salty sauce and bulk out the small portion (maybe 6 small cubes of tofu).

-Filipino "scrapple" - cubes of pork belly, thin slices of pig ear, fingerling potato, pickled papaya, and fried egg. This was a homey, rich, comforting dish. My hubby wasn't all that crazy about it, but I liked it. I thought it needed some crunch, though - either the pig ear or the belly would have benefited from a crisp up in hot oil. A little squeeze of citrus would have been welcome, too.

Since we were celebrating, we ordered dessert. "Black Forest cake" turned out to be playfully deconstructed with a chocolate cake round, a quenelle of creme Chantilly, another of chocolate mousse, and tart cherries "3 ways" (don't quiz me, I only saw pitted cooked cherries and a subtle cherry drizzle...). This was great, except the cake itself was a little lackluster. It tasted vauely dry - possibly baked a day or two prior or microwaved. But everything else on the plate was delicious, and the server was kind enough to bring out two small glasses of champagne on the house to mark the occasion. Not to mention the birthday candle. Very nice touches.

Overall, while not a flawless experience, we were pretty impressed. The service was warm, attentive, and knowledgeable. Our plates (custom pottery, really handsome) and cutlery were promptly cleared with each round of dishes. Water glasses (sparkling or still) stayed full. The young lady taking care of us remembered the occasion and paced the meal well. Our bill came in around $70 for two beers and everything we ordered, which is only about $20 more than we spent on pub grub and drinks at Ventnors in AdMo the night before. This was decidedly better.

At the end of the night, I leaned across the table and shouted (hey, it was LOUD), "This reminds me a lot of Rose's Luxury!" Playful food, informal yet engaged service, and generous gestures - all in all were very reminiscent of DC's most buzzed-about restaurant.

I think we'll be hearing more about Kyirisan. Too bad the name is so hard to remember!

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