Thursday, March 27, 2014

ShopHouse Southeast Asia Kitchen Food Review II

Grilled Steak Laab Bowl

I still marvel at how affordable the menu is, at ShopHouse Southeast Asia Kitchen; so imagine my joy when I whipped out a BOGO coupon last night at the busy Dupont Circle eatery. As if one bowl of goodness for $6.60 isn't a steal... try two. Best of all, no looks of (coupon) disgust from the folks behind the counter: Just the opposite in fact, as both employees cheered me on. Talk about customer service with a capital C!

You never know what to expect when you walk in less than 30 minutes before close; but the ShopHouse crew dazzles with genuinely warm hospitality and lightheartedness. Is it any wonder the dining room was almost packed, so close to quittin' time? This was just my third visit, and I've yet to experience anything less than stellar service. It was also my first time ordering carryout, and few menus are as conducive for taking the food home with you.

Order #1 was for me... Grilled Chicken Satay Bowl over Brown Rice with Eggplant & Thai Basil, Green Papaya Slaw and Spicy Red Curry Sauce with some Thai Chilis for good spicy measure. Eggplant is far from attractive, but the chilis and slaw added a nice splash of color. Taste-wise, this bowl is a definite home run. It starts with perfectly cooked chicken and ShopHouse's unrivaled slaw. There's a lot going on at once; but each component dances in perfect harmony with the next. It's also darn filling (thank you brown rice & eggplant.) Did I mention it costs less than seven bucks?

Grilled Chicken Satay Bowl

Order #2 was for my lady-friend, and it looked appropriately more attractive. Grilled Steak Laab Bowl, again over Brown Rice with Eggplant & Thai Basil, but with Pickles (mixed radishes, carrots, and cucumbers in a Singaporean-style brine) and a milder Tamarind Vinaigrette (tamarind, lime, and ginger) and no Thai Chilis. I only got to sample this one; but three cheers for the pickles (delicious) and a surprising thumbs down for overcooked steak. This makes two visits in a row (both late evening) with overdone meat. Considering how great everything else was/is, I can only hope this was a misfortunate coincidence. I'll be sure to ask for a sample (protein) next time before deciding on which one to order.

Coconut Rice & Mango Parfait

Suddenly flush with cash, I ordered a Coconut Rice & Mango Parfait dessert (Jasmine rice, creamy coconut milk, pureed mango, salt, sugar and topped with sesame seeds... for only $1.37) which packed just enough sweetness to cleanse the palette. It won't make you forget cupcakes or ice cream, but it's a sensible/tasty conclusion to a healthy (and more importantly delicious) meal. Plus, you can get three of 'em for less than $5.) Score another point for savings, to go along with outstanding service and terrific food. Game, set, match ShopHouse.