The Early Word on Kyirisan | Eater DC

Eater DC | The Early Word on Kyirisan


“Soy sauce, chili paste and cream fraiche? Love the kick in them… More please!!!”

Chef Tim Ma opened Kyirisan, his first restaurant in D.C. proper, just last month at 1924 8th St. NW. The new dining destination inside the Shay building in Shaw is heavy on Asian flavors fused with French techniques and includes a few favorite dishes from his Virginia restaurants.

Surprisingly, Kyirisan only has five Yelp reviews so far, with an overall rating of four stars. Yet there’s plenty of chatter elsewhere thank to social media and bloggers in the know. Read on for the early word on Kyirisan:

The Fantastic Service News: Yelper rebecca h. says service was “fantastic,” and Facebook user Shonna Edwards Burgoyne thinks it was “amazing.” Blogger Hungry Travelist writes, “I was also happy with the service. Everyone was friendly and polite from the hostess to our server, and Chef Ma’s wife Joey Ma was doing the rounds in the dining room making sure everything was running smoothly.” [Hungry Travelist, Yelp, FB]

The Like a Church Chapel News: Washington City Paper says “the dining room is relatively small and decorated simply, with slanted ceilings that make the space look a few stained glass windows away from a church chapel.” Zagat writes, “It’s the design of the moment: gold-toned light fixtures and triangular sculptures lining the walls; luxurious banquettes in a smoky navy hue; plenty of wood paneling; a marble island in the middle with a large notch where the chef can preside over tasting table experiences for small groups.” [WCP, Zagat]

The Can’t-Miss Fluke Crudo News: Facebook user Margaret Perry says, “Be sure to try the fluke, folks.” DCist writes, “Other can’t miss dish? A raw fluke crudo that shows the kitchen’s light touch, drawing out the fish’s delicate flavors with pistachio and lime and fennel.” [FB, DCist]

The Middling Filipino Scrapple News: Blogger Hungry Travelist says, “The Filipino scrapple which comes with pieces of pork and pig ear, a fried egg, and potatoes. We did not particularly care for this dish and ate only a couple of bites.” But Instagrammer @masterpuppeteer says it’s ‘DELICIOUS.” [Instagram, Hungry Travelist]

The Serious Chicken Wings News: Facebook user Shonna Edwards Burgoyne says chef Tim Ma’s famous creme fraiche wings were a personal favorite. Instagrammer @jwdiff says “Don’t usually care for wings, but those are some serious wings!! Soy sauce, chili paste and cream fraiche? Love the kick in them… More please!!!” [FB, Instagram]

The Adventurous Scallop and Coconut Risotto News: DCist writes, “The scallop and coconut risotto with basil ice cream…is adventurous and playful—and one of the few dishes we insist on ordering again on a second visit.” Blogger Hungry Travelist says, “The scallops were cooked perfectly, and the combination of the basil ice cream and coconut risotto made for an interesting mix of hot and cold. “Instagram user @thinkncreate says the dish is “Genius!” [DCist, Hungry Travelist, Instagram]

The Nostalgic Pickled Quail News: DCist says, “A pickled quail and prawn combo with Chinese hot pot sauce brings memories of childhood jaunts to Chinese restaurants and dim sum meals past” It was also a favorite of Instagrammer @keystone88. [DCist, Instagram]

The Outstanding but Spicy Deep Fried Tofu News: The deep fried tofu is emerging as a favorite dish among diners. Yelper J D. writes, “The tofu was fried just right and it reminded me of fried tofu you’d get from Taiwan or Japan. The sauce was delicious. Scallion and carrots on top added some colors and texture to it.” The GW Hatchet says, “The tofu was soft and chewy, but the breading outside added a crispy texture. Because tofu is flavorless, the black pepper sauce was the only thing I could taste in this dish and it was a bit spicy – I was constantly reaching for my water.” Instagrammer @rkduggins calls it “outstanding.” [Yelp, GW Hatchet, Instagram]

The Do Not Skip Dessert News: DCist urges diners to save room for dessert. GW Hatchet also says, “Do not skip dessert. I decided on the custard cheesecake… and I was not disappointed. The presentation was so beautiful, I almost didn’t want to eat it. There was a swipe of hazelnut ganache on one side, and the cheesecake was situated in a pool of hazelnut butter… The cheesecake was perfectly light and fluffy, just as a cheesecake should be. It wasn’t overwhelmingly sweet and was delightfully creamy.” Blogger Hungry Travelist also recommends the matcha pavlova with raspberry mint sauce and black sesame puree, which has also been a favorite so far. [DCist, GW Hatchet, Hungry Travelist]

Kyirisan Offers Striking New Looks and Tastes in Shaw

By: Tom Sietsema

Photos By:  Dayna Smith

The latest restaurant from Tim Ma bridges his Chinese ancestry and his French training. Yet some of the most intriguing eating at the new Kyirisan in Shaw originates from the chef’s cohorts, a group whose backgrounds are Burmese, Chinese, Filipino, Korean and American (South Carolinian, to be precise).
The “scrapple” at Kyirisan in Shaw is based on a Filipino pork dish. (Dayna Smith/For the Washington Post)
Consider, for instance, a “scrapple” based on the sour Filipino pork dish called sisig, which Ma first tasted at a staff meal prepared by an employee at Water & Wall, his Arlington eatery. Kyirisan’s refined version of the entree brings together braised pig ear, pickled green papaya, Thai chilies and fingerling potatoes, all topped with a fried egg. The combination of tang, heat and runny yolk is a jungle of fun.

Kyirisan’s selections fall under menu headings that share the source of their primary ingredients: “In the Ground” (fried tofu with black pepper sauce), “On the Ground” (beef heart tartare served with a mayonnaise spiked with the pungent Korean condiment gochujang) and “Under the Water.” That last category nets fine halibut propped up on fingers of seared kohlrabi. Beneath the duo: a swab of hoisin sauce that gets its effervescence from Sprite, another idea adopted from a kitchen colleague.

Do the bowls and plates look familiar? Like every other hot dining destination of late, Kyirisan stages its food on pottery designed by Cloud Terre in Arlington. Nutty buckwheat pasta — filled with roasted cauliflower, set on a creamy onion sauce and finished with cool ricotta — practically disappears into its oyster-gray bowl.
Kyirisan’s cauliflower-filled buckwheat tortellini arrive in bowls made by Cloud Terre, an Arlington company whose pottery is used by several local restaurants. (Dayna Smith/For the Washington Post)
The interior, on the other hand, won’t be mistaken for any other in the neighborhood.

“We wanted something different,” says Ma, whose wife, Joey Ma, might be the smile greeting you at the door. “We didn’t know what we wanted.” GrizForm Design Architects in the District came to their rescue with yellow brass triangles protruding from the walls, woven denim-blue booths and a ceiling with multiple angles. “We had the pleasure of eating at Tim’s other restaurants,” including Chase the Submarine in Vienna, “and enjoy how he folded ingredients and flavors together,” explains designer Griz Dwight. Antique screens from a former Chinese restaurant owned by Ma’s uncle grace a hall near the restrooms.

Chef Tim Ma and his wife, Joey Ma, in the kitchen at Kyirisan in Shaw. (Dayna Smith/For the Washington Post)
The restaurant’s unique interior was designed by GrizForm Design Architects. (Dayna Smith/For the Washington Post)
Stick around for the last course. Dessert features a luscious custard cheesecake, baked in a water bath and sure to satisfy a nut lover. It deploys hazelnuts in three ways: as butter, as a powder and as a ganache beneath the cheesecake.

Kyirisan accepts reservations, but only if made on the date you hope to dine there. Asking customers to call during the day and talk to a live person, says Ma, personalizes the interaction. Take that, OpenTable.


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