I had dinner at Tiger Fork with my girlfriend Katie on 4-15-2017. *Disclaimer: this restaurant is not in the D.C. Michelin Guide. It just opened in February 2017 and the Guide came out in late 2016. Based on the rave reviews I’d heard from friends, plus all the industry buzz, I decided to go check it out for the blog on the (very good) chance it’ll be in the next edition. After eating there, I’m pretty sure it will be.
The space is absolutely amazing. Kudos to EditLab on their work here. The outside of the restaurant is obviously eye-catching, with the bright red paint, octagonal window, and neon sign. It definitely stands out in Blagden Alley.
The inside is even more exciting. Below is the view from the front door looking across the bar and dining room back to the kitchen. The walls are covered in beautiful murals and there are lanterns everywhere. The beads hanging down from the ceiling delineate the bar in the front of the restaurant from the dining room behind.
This is the view from the back of the restaurant looking across the dining room towards the bar and front door. I love the delicate lanterns with the heavy wood tables in this part.
We got there around 6:15pm on a Saturday. The hostess told us there was a 20 to 30 minute wait at a standard table but that we could be seated immediately at the chef’s counter. Um, hello my dream in life! We excitedly chose to sit at the chef’s counter and I’m so glad we did.
It was so fun to be right there in the middle of everything and see all the dishes going out. The Executive Chef, Irvin Van Oordt, was friendly, humble, and very cool about answering all my questions.
And here he is taking a selfie with me!
In fact both owners, Nathan Beauchamp and Greg Algie, were also there. They were very involved and attentive, evening running food to tables at times. They were also really nice and happily took pics with me.
They even took selfies with me. Thanks guys!
And now to the main event!
Raffles Bar Gin Sling gin (Dillon’s unfiltered gin, cherry Heering, ginger beer, angostura, lime). This was really good with strong ginger and cherry flavors. It was sweet but the effervescence and the ginger made it also kind of refreshing.
Japanese Cocktail (Hennessy, orgeat, egg white, lemon, angostura). Shockingly I didn’t order this but that’s only because Katie really wanted it and I wanted to try more than one cocktail. It was good but I definitely couldn’t drink too many. Something in it, probably the orgeat, was like a little too syrupy sweet.
Cheung fun (shrimp, flowering chives). You probably recognize this from everyone’s Instagram feed. Not only is it pretty, it was quite tasty! The noodles were springy and chewy without being sticky. The sauce seemed to be peanut based with chilis but not super spicy. There was a lot of sauce left at the end and I wish I had asked for a spoon to lap it up.
Grill lamb breast (cumin, pickled pacaya salad, mint). This was the only misstep of the meal but it still had some good qualities too. For instance the pickled pacaya was deliciously vinegar-y. The coating of crunchy friend garlic and cumin on the lamb was nice as well. However, the lamb itself was so fatty we couldn’t really eat it. The server warned that it was on the fatty side but it was beyond what I was expecting. There was more fat than meat and people next to us actually sent theirs back. I figured my husband would probably like it, though, so we took it to go.
Humble Plate of Chili Wontons (turkey, shrimp, ginger). Man were these good. They were delicate, savory, and flavorful. They were like silky, buttered noodles with a perfectly balanced filling. The pickled radish and jicama salad was fantastic but it sort of blew out my taste buds. After I ate it, it became harder too appreciate the subtle flavor of the wontons.
Cucumber salad. This was a gift from the chef to cleanse our palates. It seems funny to say something this simple was so good but it was. In addition to the vinegar there were also sesame and chili flavors, which were surprising and delicious.
This is the first time they changed our share plates. Even Katie said, “Oh she loves this.” It’s so true, especially when eating sauces with such strong, complex flavors–ain’t nobody got time for dirty plates.
Beef chow foon (brisket, bok choy, rice noodles). This was a seemingly basic dish that was extremely well done. The noodles, like those of the cheung fun, were perfectly springy. The sauce, while a little salty, was really good as well. Then comes the brisket: it was fantastic and totally took it up a notch. It was tender and flavorful without being fatty. It was a pretty generous portion so I ended up taking some home. My husband said these were the best leftovers I’ve brought home from any of the Michelin Guide restaurants to date.
This is the second time they changed the share plates.
Pea shoots (garlic, oyster sauce). These were actually a gift from the chef. We asked what they were when they came up for another table. He explained the dish and then two seconds later brought them over to us saying, “you’re interested in them, you should have them, we can always fire more.” That was really awesome and holy sh*t they turned out to be the best part of the meal! The description on the menu leaves out the best part: the shoots as soaked in a chili vinegar and finished with a little fish sauce. The taste was so unexpected and so good I think exclaimed up on trying them. They were garlicky and vinegar-y yet so fresh and crisp without being soggy. They were also served with a homemade oyster sauce, which was good but went underused due to how delicious the other flavors were. I highly recommend that you get this. This was for sure my “can’t stop thinking about it the next day” dish.
Left – Ikezo Sparkling Peach Jelly Sake. This was fun. Katie described it as a peach wine cooler with a Jell-O shot in it. While that sounds terrible it actually describes it kind of well. You could also liken it to Orbit soda from back in the day or Clearly Canadian with small gelatinous balls like those found in bubble tea. At any rate it was sweet and refreshing but towards the end the jelly became a little too abundant.
Right- Choya Ume Plum Wine over ice with soda water. This was fine but not super amazing. Katie thought maybe it had been too diluted by the soda water. I didn’t mind that part but I may just not be a fan of plum wine overall. It had a dark almost salty taste.
We waited a bit for these drinks to the extent I thought maybe they lost the order. There were two other times I needed something (check on our leftovers, tell them they brought me tonic not club soda) and it was hard to find our server. I think this might be a consequence of where we were sitting. The chef and the owners were so attentive but if we had been at a regular table I think the servers would have been a little more reliable. Regardless they too were super nice and upon hearing about the blog one told us all about the chef’s past work in Peru.
Coconut rice cake. This was interesting because I was expecting something like the coconut sticky rice cakes at Little Serow and these ended up being totally different. They actually had a texture like a coconut marshmallow. The rest of the ingredients were a little hard to follow since they’re not on the menu and both the chef and the waiter described them slightly differently. I think there was dulche de leche and coconut milk, which they freeze and then grate on the top. The sauce beneath that was burnt coconut milk, which I became obsessed with after Bad Saint.
Here’s the chef actually making our dessert.
Bubble Waffle (ice cream and fun stuff). This description is hilarious. The “fun stuff” was lychee, some sort of animal cracker-like cookie, caramel sauce, Pocky sticks, and sprinkles. The ice cream was out of this world!! I think they said it was by Milk Cult, a local D.C. ice cream company. The first flavor was green curry, which tasted exactly like it sounds down to even being a little spicy. The second flavor was kaffir lime and it was so deliciously lime-y. Obviously everyone should get this because it’s cute and gimmicky but it’s also really good.
Macerated cherries. These were again a gift from the chef. They were very sweet with a minty, almost numbing finish.
What a special evening this was. I’m so glad we got to sit at the chef’s counter. It was presented almost as a downgrade and it was anything but. The chef was attentive, happy to answer all of our questions, and so generous. The owners were equally kind. The food was delicious, the space was outstanding and I just really liked it here.