Sunday, January 19, 2014

ShopHouse Southeast Asia Kitchen Food Review

Pork & Chicken Meatballs

ShopHouse Southeast Asia Kitchen is taking Georgetown by storm. And why not? The price is right perfect, and the food delicious and "unique." Paired with a cozy, cool atmosphere, I may have found a new favorite fast casual eatery in the trendiest part of town.

ShopHouse opened its second DC location here last summer (followed by a late October opening in Bethesda) and it has received mostly positive reviews. Better still (at least for folks like me) it's not nearly as crowded as its main location in Dupont Circle. I stopped by for a late dinner (after 9, they're open 11-10 7-days a week) and found the most helpful counter man in all of Georgetown.

I identified myself as a first-time customer, and was given a crash course in ShopHouse's assembly line ordering process. It's pretty darn simple, especially when sometime takes the time to describe your choices (complete with hearty recommendations.) First up, all dishes are served in a bowl (no sandwiches or lettuce wraps here) with your choice of rice, noodles or salad (I chose brown rice) protein (Pork & Chicken Meatballs, their #1 seller... sold) and vegetables (Eggplant & Thai Basil.)

Next up is sauce, where I passed on a milder recommendation of Green Curry in favor of Spicy Red Curry. To make sure it wasn't too spicy, the sales associate gave me a sample (nice idea) and yes... it was plenty spicy, but exactly what I wanted. From there, it's on to the garnishes, where I chose Green Papaya Slaw over Pickles (next time) and Herb Salad. One last touch, a thai chili topping was left off in fear of my starting a fire.

A cashier appeared from the back, and processed my order. $6.82 for the Bowl + $2.73 for a tasty Bruce Cost Pomegranate Ginger Ale (fountain drinks are available too) $10.50 including tax for a great looking plate bowl of food. With prices like this, how can you not go back for more?

There's plenty of tables to choose from, and each seat is quite comfortable. There's a chill feel throughout the restaurant, I felt most becoming. As for the food, most everything was perfect... save for overdone meatballs, charred to a fault. Overdone meatballs equals dry meat, and mine were no exception. It's a shame really, since every component was near perfection, especially the Green Papaya Slaw (Chilled green papaya, cucumber and carrot tossed in a lime-ginger dressing) which should be bottled and sold to every customer.

As promised, the red curry was plenty hot - The menu actually refers to it as "mouth numbingly hot." Are these guys talking my language, or what? I devoured the whole lot, burnt meatballs and all. I can't wait to try their Grilled Chicken Satay and give the meatballs another go (after careful inspection.) Charred corn and Tamarind Vinaigrette sound like logical matches as well... Don't you love it, when you have your next meal planned down to the toppings? How many restaurants instill that kind of anticipation? Not many.