Jump to content
sheldman

Kyirisan, Asian-Tinted Modern American by Tim Ma on 8th and T Street in Shaw - Closing Apr 18, 2019

Recommended Posts

To get this topic started: Kyirisan is at 1924 8th St. NW (between T and U).  We enjoyed our first meal tonight.  

It is a pretty and hip space, all very stylish including decor, plates, people, etc.  The menu is not huge but everything we had was good.  They say it's "Chinese-French" and I guess I can see that.  

As you can see online, the menu is divided into three categories: basically, vegetables (though NOT all vegetarian), meat/fowl, and seafood - in each category there are smaller plates and bigger plates.  "All meant for sharing," ok whatever.  A shot of good rum and a shot of pickle juice - trendy and good.  Fried tofu cubes in a spicy oyster sauce - yum.  "Red Curry | Japanese Eggplant | Apple | Butternut Squash | Potato | Peanuts | Pea Puree" gives you a sense of the way that you are not definitely in a traditional "Asian restaurant in USA" environment - it is not a bowl of coconut milk curry but is instead an artistic composed plate of not quite enough food but beautiful and tasty.  And so on.  

If you are a drinker and a pig like me, think in terms of $50 or so per person.  Service was friendly and nice, atmosphere was friendly and nice, food was good but just realize that you are going for stylish and artistically-presented food that tastes very good, not for anything authentic to any culture other than Shaw in 2016.  I like Shaw in 2016 and therefore will happily go back.

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, sheldman said:

If you are a drinker and a pig like me, think in terms of $50 or so per person. 

You may drink, but you're hardly "a drinker" and are most certainly *not* "a pig." Thank you for this opening review.

Does anyone know the pronunciation of Kyirisan?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My favorites from dinner last night: foraged mushrooms, eggplant red curry, duck confit, scallops with basil ice cream, mussels in coconut sausage broth. Offal salad. Loved the sea bass crudo but the cilantro was pervasive. Matcha pavlova for dessert. The rabbit was forgettable. Service was fine and friendly, nice beverage selection although I was not into the pickle juice cocktails. It gets louder and louder and the concrete interior doesn't muffle anything. Chef Ma seems like a sweetheart. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I went here recently as well.  I second your thoughts that the scallops in coconut risotto and basil ice cream and duck confit were the standouts.  The wings were really good too.  I definitely want to go back and try the mussels, but I guess I'll skip the sea bass (thanks for the cilantro tip!)

On 6/25/2016 at 5:34 PM, anhdeluxe said:

My favorites from dinner last night: foraged mushrooms, eggplant red curry, duck confit, scallops with basil ice cream, mussels in coconut sausage broth. Offal salad. Loved the sea bass crudo but the cilantro was pervasive. Matcha pavlova for dessert. The rabbit was forgettable. Service was fine and friendly, nice beverage selection although I was not into the pickle juice cocktails. It gets louder and louder and the concrete interior doesn't muffle anything. Chef Ma seems like a sweetheart. 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just ate the whole savory menu and wouldn't send anything back.  Stars were the congee, the 2 fish dishes, the fried tofu, and the offal salad.  Service was great from our main waiter to all of the others who attended us.  I'd trade back the marrow for a dessert we were too full for but you can't go wrong.  It's loud as fuck as other reviews have mentioned and you almost have to shout to be heard across the table--i hope they add some sound dampening features.  Oh and the coconut risotto is sublime but the scallops are superfluous just serve the ris.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was worried last Thursday - which was shortly after all the "Autumn Dining Guides" had been released - that Kyirisan was going to be packed, so I got there around 6 PM, and was surprised to see an empty restaurant - I sauntered up to the bar, and had my pick of seating. Surprisingly, the bar area was also nearly empty when I left sometime around 7:30 PM.

My bartender, who I would later find out was the delightful Kara, asked me if I'd like a drink (yes!), if I was from the area (yes, sort of), and if I'd ever been in before (no, although I'd been to all three of Tim Ma's other restaurants numerous times), and first "discovered" him and Joey in tiny little Maple Ave. Restaurant in Vienna - one of the smallest sit-down restaurants in the area, with one of the most treacherous parking lots you can encounter. Tim has come a long way since then, and in fact, on this evening, he was to be out celebrating his Michelin "Bib Gourmand" award - yes, Tim, I actually did see you in your coat and tie, and congratulations, by the way.

While Tim was not cooking here on this evening, I have my doubts as to whether he's cooking here at all - he has three children, lives way out towards Fairfax, and has two other restaurants in Virginia (at least for now - interpret that however you wish). The plating I got on this evening was indicative of the "A-team" working the kitchen, so I suspect (but don't know for sure) that Tim has stepped into the role of restaurateur rather than Chef de Cuisine - good for him: I've known him and Joey while they were still a small family, and they've worked hard for what they have.

Tim used to be a successful electrical engineer, but he had cooking in his soul, and followed his calling to the world of restaurants. Ma has the ability to use an extraordinary number of ingredients within a single dish without making them overbearing - although I do wish he would consider refining his recipes to become a bit more minimalist, as many ingredients seem to be superfluous - not detrimental, but also not necessary - and I believe he could benefit from a "less is more" approach.

The mixed drinks menu at Kyirisan is a bit difficult to negotiate, and I would recommend reformatting it (as well as matching it up to their website - I would also recommend lowering the price on (or better substantiating) the "Dealer's Choice" which is their most expensive cocktail at $15 and leaves the customer guessing as to what it might be). Nevertheless, I was able to find Not from Charlotte's Lemonade Stand ($10, Charlotte is their eldest daughter), made with Sherry, Gin, Lemon, and Sage - I was nearly certain that the Sherry used was an Oloroso, and was somewhat humbled to find out it was a Fino: Sherry is absolutely the predominant flavor in this refreshing drink, and the leaf of sage remained in the background as strictly visual until I got a hint of it halfway through the drink, when I, well, silently let forth a teeny-tiny little eructation - and there it was: I know, TMI, but it's also true, and ha ha ha for making you go to Google.

I was hoping my first course would arrive while I still had most of my adult lemonade remaining, and sure enough it did - beautifully (if inefficiently) plated, and both the plating and the cutting of this dish is what leads me to believe that the A-team was indeed working the kitchen on this evening. There are three main sections to the dinner menu, cleverly named, "In the Ground," "Under the Water," and "On the Ground," and I made sure to select one dish from each category - the dishes, Kara advised me, get smaller-to-larger in size as you descend each individual section.

So I was surprised to see that the topmost course "Under the Water" was a reasonably ample portion: Raw Sea Bass ($14) intrigued me because it simply isn't that common to see on a menu - finely chopped into chunks, forming a bar across the lovely ceramic plate, topped by, mixed with, or next to a Brunoise, Fish Sauce, Orange, Aïoli, and with thin slices of radish as an umbrella, this was a terrific way to present raw fish, and I would urge lovers of sashimi, crudo, carpaccio, etc. to order it as your first course, even though it's slightly larger than your typical "small plate" - as with so many other aspects of life, when it comes to sequencing your meal, substance is more important than size, and having studied the entire menu, this is the one dish I would order before all others.

There are several clues that Kyirisan is taking some shortcuts - not necessarily a bad thing, and not something the vast majority would notice or even care about. One is that they use Gotham Project for some of their wines (*). For my second course, I went with one of Gotham Project's wines on tap: the 2014 Bridge Lane Cellars Rosé ($10) from North Fork, NY, [menu typo] which Kara thoughtfully offered me a taste of before I committed to the entire glass - since I had the first glass of the day, she drained a few ounces to clear the line, and then poured me a small taste, even adding it to my glass after I gave her a thumbs-up.

And the Rosé - while somewhat ordinary on its own - had good supporting acidity, and was fermented almost completely dry, making it a perfect pairing for the Deep Fried Tofu ($9). I wondered why a tablespoon was placed at 12 noon before my first course arrived, and this dish answered the question. This dish should be eaten with a spoon, like a soup, tearing the lightly breaded, pan-sautéed cubes of tofu, and having a little with each spoonful of broth. I say broth and not sauce, because when this dish is finished, you don't want any liquid left in your bowl - this was an excellent dish which really emphasizes the almost-Japanese influence that speckles this menu. Get these two items together, and you'll see how a good pairing can make both the food and the wine better than they'd be on their own.

Working my way bottom-to-top in the "On the Ground" section of the menu, I eliminated the Sous Vide Duck Confit (while applauding Kyirisan for noting it on their menu), eliminated the Black Truffle Congee after Kara confirmed it was made with truffle oil, and stopped at the Pork Collar ($18) with Fermented Daikon, Beets, Fish Suce Caramel, and Sweet White Soy served in a separate bowl. It would not surprise me at all if this pork collar had also been par-cooked sous vide, as it had "that" kind of coloration and texture, but it was really a very enjoyable dish - my server instructed me to take this decomposed plate, and create "rolls" using strips of cucumber as the periphery, making sure to have each item in each roll (if you do this correctly, each bite should be shaped like a piece of Maki Sushi - just put the ingredients in the middle of the cucumber strip, one atop the other, and fold both ends of the strip on top using your knife and fork, and you'll have a perfect roll within seconds). It was all of the flavors, in combination, that turned this into a very pleasant experience of tastes, textures, and (in theory) temperatures; having the items on their own would result in an exercise of frustration and expletives.

With this meat course, I wanted to switch to a red wine, though I could have also stayed with the Rosé, so I tried another Gotham Project wine on tap - the 2014 Pacific Standard Malbec ($13) from California, an unfortunate choice which lacked any charms, and had almost surely undergone malolactic fermentation (this is the process in which malic acid (think: green apples) is turned into lactic acid (think: yogurt), softening the wine, but more often than not resulting in something lacking the necessary backbone to have with food, and the dairy components were on display in the nose of this Malbec - it just didn't work, either on its own, or with the dish, so I saved it for chocolate (it's hard for a red wine - even a bad red wine - not to go well with chocolate). I strongly urge Kyirisan to jettison this wine, and to find another red on tap with the right type of acidity to stand up to your cuisine (and I don't think it would be the Zinfandel; you need something lighter than that).

All desserts at Kyirisan are $10, and knowing that I wanted chocolate, I ordered the Chocolate Mousse Cake with, gulp, Veal Marrow, Rocky Road Ice Cream, Marrow Tuile, and Cherry Bourbon Jam. For a long time, I've joked that "I like hot fudge, and I like pizza; I just don't want them together," and yet, here they were, before my very eyes, in an intricately plated hodgepodge of chocolate, veal marrow, and thick, sludge-like jam. Although the flavors didn't clash per se, the textures just didn't work at all, and in every bite, I was cringing at the thought of eating veal marrow with chocolate, not knowing exactly where the marrow was to be found. I suspect it was the white coating on the chocolate bar, and also the savory tuiles - neither of which were bad at all; it was more of a psychological terror, and the actual problems were in the textures which were just a mess, and the jam which was just too thick - this was the only course I didn't finish, mostly because I was quite full, but also because this dessert just didn't work for me. So paradoxically, the meal ended on a sour note with the sweet course.

One last thing: There are two options on the menu - "Like Your Food ... Send a Round of Beers to the Kitchen" ($12), and "Love Your Food ... Send a Round of Scotch to the Kitchen" ($24). Although the kitchen did everything it could, I thought $24 was a bit much for a single diner at the bar, so I bought them a round of beer. :)

However, I was impressed enough with Kyirisan to formally initiate coverage in Italic in the Dining Guide (this is available for free to donrockwell.com members with ten posts, is the largest single-city dining guide in the world, and is the only one which is updated constantly, in real-time) - I'm also happy to announce that in the immediate future, our Washington, DC forum is going to be opened up to the public. I have finally halfway caught up with what I need to do, and I'll figure out a way to revisit the other half somewhere down Highway 61).

(*) When it comes to selecting a restaurant critic or restaurant guide, I would encourage consumers - the ones who spend their own money - to rely only upon those with proven expertise in both food *and* drinks: Given that beverages can easily account for 50% of the final bill, doing otherwise would only result in stranding you halfway up the mountain with a flat tire, and that's if you're lucky.

  • Like 7

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 6/25/2016 at 5:34 PM, anhdeluxe said:

Loved the sea bass crudo but the cilantro was pervasive. 

I'm just now remembering this post, but I don't recall much (if any) cilantro in this dish.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
28 minutes ago, DonRocks said:

I'm just now remembering this post, but I don't recall much (if any) cilantro in this dish.

I am super averse and sensitive to cilantro... it's not an allergy, just a strong strong dislike!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, DonRocks said:

One last thing: There are two options on the menu - "Like Your Food ... Send a Round of Beers to the Kitchen" ($12), and "Love Your Food ... Send a Round of Scotch to the Kitchen" ($24). Although the kitchen did everything it could, I thought $24 was a bit much for a single diner at the bar, so I bought them a round of beer. :)

That's a very cool option.   I wonder how often people take them up on it?  I also wonder if some on nights, they get 10 rounds bought?

4 hours ago, DonRocks said:

 I'm also happy to announce that in the immediate future, our Washington, DC forum is going to be opened up to the public. I have finally halfway caught up with what I need to do, and I'll figure out a way to revisit the other half somewhere down Highway 61).

YES!  Thank you!  Long overdue!! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, anhdeluxe said:

I am super averse and sensitive to cilantro... it's not an allergy, just a strong strong dislike!

No, what I'm saying is that they may have changed it, maybe even based on your post - it's been a few days now, but I don't remember *any*. That said, anyone reading this should definitely ask before ordering it, but I know what cilantro looks and tastes like, and I usually have a pretty good memory for things like this.

BTW, this is assembled to-order, and I'm pretty sure that even if it comes with cilantro by default, anyone could request to leave it out - it was a good dish.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/17/2016 at 3:09 PM, Bart said:

That's a very cool option.   I wonder how often people take them up on it?  I also wonder if some on nights, they get 10 rounds bought?

does kitchen staff actually consume the alcohol being sent to them, or is this an indirect way to tip the kitchen staff?  i'll admit, when i saw this on the menu at dinner (which was excellent) a few weeks ago, i was nonplussed.  what's the expectation?  was failing to use this option the equivalent of leaving a bad tip?  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, jca76 said:

does kitchen staff actually consume the alcohol being sent to them, or is this an indirect way to tip the kitchen staff?  i'll admit, when i saw this on the menu at dinner (which was excellent) a few weeks ago, i was nonplussed.  what's the expectation?  was failing to use this option the equivalent of leaving a bad tip?  

The only other place I've seen it is Daikaya - the first time I went to each restaurant, I got it, but I also feel like I'm in a position of responsibility, having claimed for years that kitchen staff is underpaid. That said, I don't think anyone should feel obligated to do this, and it's not something I'd do on every visit. I included it in the amount I tipped on, but this is essentially "tipping on a tip," and I can't imagine people are expected to do this.

I'm hopeful that, yes, after busting their butts all night, they all enjoyed a cold one on me, but who knows? I, too, have wondered if they might get ten of these on a busy weekend, and sit there after work, getting plowed. :lol:

One other thing: I'm assuming that restaurants are *not* making a profit on this; it would be disgraceful if they were - there seemed to be a good half-dozen people in the kitchen when I was there, so it all seems reasonable to me, and knowing both Tim and Katsuya, I'm sure it's all on the up-and-up, and they account for it correctly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Kyirisan had 11 savory dishes when I visited, that is 10% more than they had on the website!

Of the 11 dishes, we had 6, and almost all of them were good.

We started with the deep fried tofu and raw seabass.  The tofu used were the super tender ones.  The frying allows you to pick them up with a fork without falling apart.  The dipping sauce was excellent.  The crudo was excellent, unless you detest orange/peel.

The offal salad might be a bit of an acquired taste, as the main ingredients were beef tendon and chicken heart.  The chicken heart and tendon provides a contrast in texture - crunchy heart, soft gelatinous tendon.  Both were cooked and then tossed.  I liked the dish, but then I can eat tendon all day (and not gain any weight!).

I've had the wings before...good buffalo styled wings, but seems out of place at Kyirisan.

Bone marrow.  I'm kind of over it - scooping fat on bread and eat with herbs just doesn't do much for me.

Beef rib - well spiced, excellent texture (i.e., soft), but lacked salt - otherwise it could've been same damn good BBQ.

IMG_0047.JPG

IMG_0048.JPG

IMG_0049.JPG

IMG_0050.JPG

IMG_0051.JPG

  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

my food rave above is still true, but given what others have said I agree--the breakdown of the menu and tipping the kitchen is a little too cute.

except the thing about the wings not fitting the menu--who cares--they are awesome wings

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 6/1/2016 at 2:25 PM, CapitalGourmand said:

Don,

It's pronounced kyear-i(short i)-sahn.

Interestingly, the menu states the restaurant is named after Tim Ma's three children, all of whom share a common character (identified as "kun") in their chinese names - a common, traditional naming convention within generations of siblings. Yi er san means "one two three" in mandarin, so it seems that Kyirisan is a loose translation of "Kun-yi-er-san." 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hubby and I had dinner here last night and really liked it.  We each had a cocktail at the bar, and I thought their cocktails were creative and well thought out.  I had the whiskey and weird, which didn't taste weird at all, it was lovely.  I like the boozie cherries, they were very good.  At the table, I got the tap viognier which was very good, I was a little skeptical, but it was great with our meal.  Hubby had cider he really liked.  This restaurant I think was what bothered me about Water and Wall.  You knew Chef Ma could cook on this level and it obviously wasn't on this level, and was never going to be able to be based on the location.  We were very impressed with these dishes, they were creative, but not over the top on weird flavor profiles.  It was a place both Hubby and I could really enjoy and could take other people who are adventurous, but not quite me adventurous.

I think the wings should just be essentially a bar snack- or always come out as the first course as kind of the dirty little homage to snacks before the more tasting like menu items, and they should have a small palate cleanser.  They were good, for wings, very good in fact, but they really didn't fit into our progression and in that way almost took away from the meal, even though we liked them.  We had the sea bream, which I thought was a delicious starter, very fresh tasting with nice crunch from the radish.  The bone marrow was good, but I think it is the dish I would likely leave off, it was so fatty and filling for just two people.  Hubby isn't a huge fat person so this was his least favorite dish, and there were others I would like to try. We had the duck confit- which had Brussels sprouts which were divine.  I am not quite sure how they did them, as they were tender and not crunchy in raw or roasted way, but also caramelized and a little crispy in a type of crisped bits on the bottom of a pan.  They get a purple color, which leads me to believe maybe they are braised with some red cabbage. We loved this dish.  We also really liked the congee with pork belly.  Five dishes for two people was definitely enough, and I love dessert, but was much too full.  I recognized our server, but I am not sure from what restaurant, both he and our bartender were really a pleasure to be served by for the evening.  We will definitely go back.  

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Took a break from our run-dates for a proper one at Kyirisan last Thursday. We had the raw sea bass and seared mushrooms and tomato tartare to start. Sea bass was excellent and our favorite dish of the evening. Mushrooms and tomato were also really tasty. Loved the combo of the warm earthy mushrooms and the sweet and cool tomatoes. Our entrees were good but not quite as enjoyable as the appetizers. We ordered the duck confit and the scallops with coconut risotto and basil ice cream. Duck confit was a mound of duck confit. No vegetables. Although well cooked, it ended up being entirely too rich and after a few bites we boxed up the rest and I put it into some scrambled eggs for a few breakfast sandwiches this week. Scallops with coconut risotto and basil ice cream was an interesting dish but the parts of the dish were better than the whole dish. Scallops were perfectly cooked but I am not sure if it went well with the coconut risotto as the coconut milk overpowered the dish. Basil ice cream swirled into the risotto is a fun concept but not sure it added much to the dish. In hindsight, both entrees were rich and we needed some vegetables for a contrasting flavor. 

At the end of the meal, @MichaelBDC said that he would be happy to return, sit at the bar, and have the raw sea bass and a glass of wine, which also sums up my thoughts on a return visit. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 minutes ago, eatruneat said:

Took a break from our run-dates for a proper one at Kyirisan last Thursday. We had the raw sea bass and seared mushrooms and tomato tartare to start. Sea bass was excellent and our favorite dish of the evening. Mushrooms and tomato were also really tasty. Loved the combo of the warm earthy mushrooms and the sweet and cool tomatoes. Our entrees were good but not quite as enjoyable as the appetizers. We ordered the duck confit and the scallops with coconut risotto and basil ice cream. Duck confit was a mound of duck confit. No vegetables. Although well cooked, it ended up being entirely too rich and after a few bites we boxed up the rest and I put it into some scrambled eggs for a few breakfast sandwiches this week. Scallops with coconut risotto and basil ice cream was an interesting dish but the parts of the dish were better than the whole dish. Scallops were perfectly cooked but I am not sure if it went well with the coconut risotto as the coconut milk overpowered the dish. Basil ice cream swirled into the risotto is a fun concept but not sure it added much to the dish. In hindsight, both entrees were rich and we needed some vegetables for a contrasting flavor. 

At the end of the meal, @MichaelBDC said that he would be happy to return, sit at the bar, and have the raw sea bass and a glass of wine, which also sums up my thoughts on a return visit. 

I would also like to add that our server, whose name I believe is John and can be identified by his hibiscus adorned shirt - was a delight.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You can't really judge a place by it's Saturday brunch (something about the A team not working the brunch shift), but you can make a note to skip it at a certain place, which is exactly how I felt after a recent brunch here. 

Service was inattentive to haphazard. Six of us sat in an end booth, with our backs not against another booth. One person got served over her shoulder from behind without any warning except "move for your food." That was weird. Had to ask a few times for ketchup and even then only got a meager amount. 

I liked the food I had, a biscuit and egg in a basket. It was good and very instagram-able (which I did not do), but not satisfying in the brunch sense, if you now what I mean. $11 for each brunch entree is decent but I left a little hungry.

I still think highly of the dinner I had here earlier (see above), so a bit disappointed with this brunch experience. Will stick to dinner going forward. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...