This year, Chinese New Year falls on January 28, and 2017 happens to be the Year of the Rooster. More specifically, the fire rooster, whose characteristics include trustworthiness, a strong sense of timekeeping and responsibility at work. But at the end of the work week, we could all use a little break from adulting, right? Start the weekend off right by heading to one of these four restaurants (one set to open soon), which offer up unconventional, non-traditional Chinese small plates.
Dubbed Dim-Sunday and launched last fall, chef Rob Rubba’s new American cuisine-focused restaurant in Shaw’s dim sum menu features dishes you can order à la carte (priced from $5 to $14). Hungry or with a group? Select The Whole Shebang, the entire menu of eleven dishes, priced at $95. Standouts on the menu, which mash-up both modern and classic Chinese fare, include a kimchi scramble with garlic aioli, crispy rice, shaved bonito flakes ($8), an English muffin topped with duck sausage, baked egg and fire panda mayo ($10), and mapo eggs with Szechuan pepper lamb sauce, fried eggs, scallions ($8). Their special Chinese New Year menu will have additions like pork kimchi steamed buns (two pieces for $10) and bok choy with ginger garlic glaze and fermented black beans ($7). For a not-too-sweet ending, order curried donuts with butternut squash, vadouvan and sesame seeds (two for $8). The whole menu pairings swimmingly with a glass or two of Crémant du Jura Rosé ($17) from France, or a brew from Neighborhood Restaurant Group Greg Engert’s Tart & Funky section of the menu.
Chef Jeff Tunks Asian fusion restaurant, which he ran for eleven years in downtown D.C. before closing it in 2011, recently opened as a reboot in Tysons Corner. Most of the dishes on the original menu have been archived, but a few favorites still remain. The dim sum menu includes fusion bites like pork belly steamed buns with cucumber, green onion and cilantro, served with ginger hoisin sauce ($10), Balinese duck and lemongrass satay with Malaysian peanut sauce and cucumber relish ($12) and curry tempura cauliflower with garlic ponzu aioli ($9) Additions like hot Nashville chicken steamed buns with bread and butter pickle relish ($9) show Tunks’ fun side. Try them all with cocktails like a Lotus Sour ($12), with Bombay Sapphire Gin, apricot jam, egg white and sour mix, or a Matcha Mule ($10, with vodka, matcha powder, and ginger beer.
The Pan-Asian restaurant at the new MGM Grand Hotel and Resort at National Harbor offers up cuisine from Japan, China, Thailand, Vietnam, and Korea, amid a warm, organic, inviting interior. Available each day during all meals, Ginger’s dim sum menu’s dishes run from $8 to $18, divided into four menu sections: steamed, deep fried, baked and pan fried. Order specialties like siu lun bao (Shanghai soup dumplings, $18), pai gu (diced spare ribs with black bean sauce, $9) and now cheng (rice noodle crepes with beef, $12.) Wash it all down with a Cucumber cocktail ($15), made with Plymouth Gin, cucumber essence, lime juice, cucumber-yuzu sorbet and viola, or the savory Togarashi ($15), with Casamigos Blanco Tequila, watermelon, raspberry syrup, lime and sriracha.
Ok, technically you won’t be able to get celebrate Chinese New Year at this Blagden Alley Hong Kong street food-focused restaurant from the team behind The Fainting Goat--it doesn’t technically open until the beginning of February--but the dim sum promises to be worth the wait. Owner Greg Algie and executive chef and partner Nathan Beauchamp, who went on an extensive R&D trip to Hong Kong, plan to showcase the territory’s diverse international influences with both sweet and savory dishes like Hong Kong style French toast with condensed milk and peanut butter, snow pea shoot and shrimp dumplings and chile crab with fried garlic. The beverage program will be built on traditional Chinese medicine with the use of tea infusions, tinctures and oils in drinks like an Aphrodisiac cocktail with baijiu, cherry, pomegranate, cardamom, ginseng, ginkgo, muira puama, passion flower, and saffron, and a Detox libation with white rye whiskey, Angostura Bitters, mangosteen, purple basil, echinacea, calendula, mullein, violet and hibiscus.
Kelly Magyarics, DWS, is a wine, spirits and lifestyle writer, and wine educator, in the Washington, D.C. area. She can be reached through her website, www.kellymagyarics.com, or on Twitter and Instagram @kmagyarics.