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The deja vu is described by the place, which as soon as housed the beloved, Japanese-impressed Himitsu from chef Kevin Tien. Now it’s Magpie and the Tiger, co-owned by Tien and showcasing a Korean script from Caleb Jang. The chef, 29, aided Tien open up Himitsu and will come to his 1st solo gig from Moon Rabbit, Tien’s modern day Vietnamese restaurant at the Wharf.
Jang can cook dinner. This is obvious the second you receive his flippantly remedied salmon, well-marbled fish collected with juicy diced Asian pear and amazing Bordeaux radishes (a.k.a. Korean purple radishes) on a dashi broth stung with kimchi juice. (A splash of lemon juice in the kitchen area turns the pool magenta.) As I tucked into the gentle and classy very first training course, Curtis Mayfield sang “Move On Up” — fitting accompaniment to Jang’s résumé.
Like a great deal of Koreans, Jang grew up having sweet potatoes. At Magpie and the Tiger, he does not simply put the vegetable on a pedestal, he also throws it a ticker-tape parade. Hyperbole? Look at out the jazzy toppings — pickled Fresno chiles, crispy minimal onion rings, diced jalapeño — and be part of the supporter club. Baked and fried, to caramelize the skin, the sweet potato is served on a black plate atop a shallow pool of coconut milk, lime juice, brown sugar and ginger syrup. Chat about Seoul meals!
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No just one is slavishly pursuing conventional recipes here. Korea is basically hinted at with the restaurant’s bread program, a cracker-y model of focaccia with a effervescent cheese heart. Pastry chef Niko McGuigan stuffs the focaccia di recco with scallions, Camembert and mozzarella. Fairly Italian, right? The nubby slices acquire some Asian flair with a honey-sweetened chile crunch that propels the snack into crowd-pleasing turf.
Most likely you’d like some salad. Jang obliges with a concert of little one kale, mizuna, cucumber and pleasantly earthy acorn jelly. Actually, I order the greens as a way to get to the crunchy garnish: sheets of fried nori distribute with rice paste. No want for croutons when there is keem-bugak.
The most effective pitch for kkanpunggi is a glossy tower of hen sections, freckled with sesame seeds, remaining ferried from kitchen to diner. Jang’s nod to the wet-battered, Chinese-Korean fried hen is cloaked in a sauce that marries sweet with warmth, pleasure with suffering (hi, bell peppers, garlic and housemade chile oil). If you’re on the lookout to make a case for fusion, make it kkanpunggi.
The other huge-format dishes rejoice surf and turf. A nest of chewy wheat noodles showered with ginger and scallions just about eclipses the sweet, stir-fried lobster it supports. The showstopper is kalbi — an whole beef rib that’s marinated, cooked sous-vide for a working day, grilled to insert smoke to the satisfaction and glazed with a sweeter model of the marinade. Diners are instructed to bundle slices of the heady meat in the accompanying purple-leaf lettuce, alongside with some “umami” rice. The grains are prosperous and unforgettable many thanks to a soy-fixed egg yolk and a pantry’s value of jump-starters, from soy sauce and ginger to garlic and Korean chile flakes.
McGuigan, 23 and a to start with-technology Filipino American, has a handful of desserts he’s operating on, including a coconut product puff and a vegan rice pudding. For the instant, though, there is a single decision. Like the bread, it does not sign Korea. Even now, two or additional of you really should share the Ukrainian-impressed honey cake, seven layers of dulce de leche frosting alternating with 8 levels of moist cake, flavored with a ginger-infused honey which is cooked till it’s virtually burned. A monumental slice goes for $9 — revenue properly used considering the proceeds are donated to the Ukrainian Red Cross.
Though the newcomer’s actual physical dimensions are very similar to Himitsu’s (and the cafe that adopted, Pom Pom), a retiled bar, inexperienced coloration plan and new ceiling and floors give Magpie and the Tiger a distinctive glance. The identify references Korea’s national chicken, a symbol of great fortune, and the perception, stemming from folklore, of the tiger’s protecting character.
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The servers, who check vaccination standing at the doorway, are lovely. 1 eagle-eyed attendant, acquiring seen my March start day on my driver’s license, included a candle and a birthday want in a to-go container of honey cake.
Between their masks and the clamor in the room, nevertheless, attendants can be hard to listen to. You may have to repeat any issues, something a good deal of patrons have experienced to alter to in the course of the pandemic. Harder to comprehend is the wine list. The ordinary bottle cost is $74, which doesn’t specifically say “Howdy, neighbor.” (The cafe has a liquor license, but cocktails are not a present precedence, states the chef. “We don’t have a bartender” or area to make drinks.)
Yes, Jang wants to make foods that retains people today coming back again for much more. At the identical time, he says he desires to elevate the way personnel are taken care of in his market: “I want to be element of the alter.” The chef procedures what he preaches by featuring overall health insurance policies to entire-time personnel and 4-day workweeks.
Checks are dropped off in cookie tins that remind Jang of the containers legions of sensible Korean moms hold at house. As a child, the Chicago-location indigenous suggests he could be expecting 1 of two matters when he lifted the lid: cookies or sewing products. The chef dusts off the memory at Magpie and the Tiger, in which diners discover with their bill spools of thread, but also delicate butter cookies to the side. Sweet times two.
828 Upshur St. NW. 202-882-2605. magpieandthetiger.com. Open: Indoor eating 5 to 9:30 p.m. Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday, and 5 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Selling prices: Small plates $12 to $16, large plates $29 to $63. Seem examine: 75 decibels/Ought to discuss with lifted voice. Accessibility: The cosy entrance and compact eating place are not conducive to wheelchair people. Pandemic protocols: Diners are requested for proof of vaccination and identification at the doorway personnel are vaccinated and masked.