I had dinner at Little Serow with my #Methodolochick girlfriends Ruth, Danielle, Emily, Monica and Maeve on 3-9-2017. It was a great meal with great friends in a funky little space.
Atmosphere: 4 out fo 5
Food & Drink: 5 out of 5
Note there was no sign! So here I am in front of the door.
And here I am with the hostess. Isn’t she sweet to pose for pics with me? I’m sure she thought I was a total weirdo…
Little Serow is one of the many restaurants in D.C. that doesn’t take reservations. They open at 5:30pm. Here’s the line at 5:03pm on a Thursday in March; there were 13 people ahead of us.
They also don’t have tables for more than four people. I emailed ahead of time to ask if there was any way to accommodate a party of six. They told me if we got in line at 5pm on a weekday, with the rest of my guests all arriving by 5:30pm, we could all be seated next to each other in the 5:30pm seating.
Ladies in line!
The restaurant is housed in a long, low English basement in a D.C. row house. The walls are painted a bright, cheerful blue/green color that borders on seafoam. There are tables along the left wall, a long communal table on the right and an open kitchen in the back.
While the space wasn’t actually cold the bare walls, high stools and cinder block walls all gave it a somewhat spartan feel. Luckily the friendly staff and funky music music made things more comfortable.
View of the dining room looking out towards the front door from the bathroom.
The menu is set up like a tasting menu and changes weekly. It includes an array of items but pork, seafood and nuts are featured prominently (and might be included even when not listed). Since there are no substitutions, make sure to check it out online first if you have any allergies or aversions. Twice I’ve had friends not be able to go because they didn’t eat most of what was on the menu that week.
Sweet rice milk. Emily is running a half marathon this weekend so opted for a nonalcoholic drink. I’m glad she did because this was slammin’. It was like melted ice cream meets cereal milk. However, in the words of EmGusk it’s more of a “dessert beverage.”
Front – Nam prik kha nun (pork cracklins; jackfruit, shrimp paste, shallot). So I definitely made fun of my husband for eating cracklins in the past and I definitely take it all back now. These were addicting. Plus the sauce was really flavorful, with what tasted like lemongrass and a tomato base, so I slathered it on.
Back – assorted cooling vegetables (cucumber, watermelon radish, Thai basil, cabbage, lettuce). This looked really pretty and I did end up eating them with a spicy dish or two.
Straw basket of sticky rice to soak up all the goodness coming our way.
Tom kha (snakehead fish, galangal, kaffir lime leaf). This was fantastic. The fish balls were delicious, the broth was tangy, the galangal was slightly spicy like ginger and there were hints of shallots and lemongrass; you could definitely taste the lime leaves as well.
Yam makeua yao (eggplant, cured egg yolk, fish sauce, cilantro, mint, shallots, celery, lime, chilies). This was hands down my favorite dish–my “think about it after the meal was over” dish. There were three distinct stages to the flavor. The first was almost a smoky taste. The second was slightly sweet. And the third was where you could really taste the tang, which was from the fish sauce and chilies.
Not pictured – laap pet lanna (duck, duck offal, lanna spices, cabbage). This was minced duck with crispy shallots that you picked up with triangles of raw cabbage. It had a somewhat dark, heavy flavor that was balanced a bit by the cabbage. The texture reminded me of fake meat or taco filling maybe. It wasn’t bad but it definitely wasn’t my favorite, which is apparently why I forgot to picture it!
Shrimp toast. This was a gift from kitchen and it was really, really good. It was almost like brioche french toast or bread pudding, but with a slight savory shrimp flavor.
The next dish was spicy so they brought us all a lovely sparkling white wine from the Rhone Valley. Since Emily wasn’t imbibing they brought her ginger beer, which was a nice touch. Cheers!
Tow hu thouk (tofu, cilantro root, peanut). This tofu was so crisp it was almost hard but that wasn’t a bad thing. The sauce reminded me of salad dressing in a weird way and, while the finish was slightly spicy, isn’t overwhelming so.
Phat naem sai khai (egg, sour sausage, finger chilies). Oh man was this good, like really flavorful comfort food. The glass noodles made it kind of like pad Thai, but the egg and veggies melded in such a way that it almost tasted like an omelette.
Si krong muu (pork ribs, mekhong whiskey, dill). This was everyone else’s favorite dish. The ribs were so tender the meat literally fell off the bone. The flavor was buttery, mildly sweet and you could definitely taste the dill. The bottom ribs also soaked up some of the vinegar flavor from the sauce below. While the eggplant dish had my heart, this was a close second.
Coconut sticky rice (toasted sesame). This was the perfect ending to our meal. It was rich and delicious and I could have eaten about five.
Overall the meal was delightful. The food was adventurous, delicious and not too spicy, which is a critique I’ve often heard leveled at Little Serow. I didn’t love the space but I also kind of appreciated that they were going for a look. I hate the no reservations thing generally but arriving here at 5pm resulted in six people being seated together right when they opened so I really can’t complain.