Kyirisan: Chinese-French dining in Shaw
I’ve been eagerly anticipating Tim Ma’s first DC venture – Kyirisan to open in the Shaw neighborhood after hearing so much much about his other restaurants – Water and Wall, Chase the Submarine, but not having been to either. So when Kyirisan opened last week, I knew I would have to visit soon.
Kyirisan (pronounced kyr –i-sahn, a combination of Chef Tim's childrens’ names and a generational family name) is in the Shay building on 8th St, and is a Chinese –French bistro. What does that mean? Chef Tim is of Chinese heritage, but trained in French technique, and Kyirisan is a blend of exactly that – Chinese flavors and French methods!
We walked into the restaurant on Friday evening at about 6.30pm without reservations – but were able to be seated immediately. (FYI - The restaurant takes same day reservations via phone between 10.30am -2.30pm)
The space is modern but simple – with high ceilings, large windows, a chic looking bar area, and a relatively small dining area that seats about 60. There is also a large marble island (with 8-10 seats) where the chef plans to hold chef’s tastings for small groups.
The restaurant is still working on its cocktail program and had about 5 cocktails the night we went, but were told that would list be expanding soon. The beer and wine list has a good mix of local and other wines and beers, so we got a bottle of Early Mountain to start with. #DrinkLocal indeed.
The menu is divided into different categories – In the ground (vegetarian), On the ground (poultry and land meat), Under the Water (seafood and fish) and dishes in each category are ordered from lightest to heaviest. Great idea. A couple of dishes (that are uber popular is his other restaurants) are on the menu here too – including the legendary crème fraiche wings.
We started with the wings, the fluke, and the fried tofu. The raw fluke was delicate and tasty – with a fennel puree, a lime sauce (that our server said was made with Sprite!), and pieces of pistachio. Beautifully plated, we were off to a great start!
The fried tofu was divine – pieces of deep fried tofu in the most amazing black pepper sauce and topped with pickled carrots. That pepper sauce was SO tasty, I would buy it by the jar. This is going to be my must-get dish at Kyirisan every time.
The wings stood up to their fame too – crisp chicken slathered with a creamy sauce that had a bit of a kick. Overall, these were tasty with a decent amount of spiciness, but the tofu was still in top place for me!
Next up, we got the scallops with coconut risotto and basil ice cream. The scallops were cooked perfectly, and the combination of the basil ice cream and coconut risotto made for an interesting mix of hot and cold. If you are a fan of coconut, you will love this dish.
I always get anything cauliflower if I see it on the menu. Therefore, I had to get the cauliflower ravioli, which came with ricotta and slow cooked onions. I enjoyed the ravioli itself – I could definitely taste the cauliflower, and loved the onions and ricotta which all came together, but overall I felt like there was something missing from the dish.
We had one more dish to go through – The Filipino scrapple which comes with pieces of pork and pig ear, a fried egg, and potatoes. We did not particularly care for this dish and ate only a couple of bites. We were also much too full at this point!
For dessert, we tried the matcha pavlova. This was like a deconstructed macaron with a giant matcha meringue cookie, black sesame cream, and a raspberry coulis. This dessert fired on all cylinders for me given that I love all those flavors - so it was polished off in to time!
I was also happy with the service. Everyone was friendly and polite from the hostess to our server, and Chef Ma’s wife Joey Ma was doing the rounds in the dining room making sure everything was running smoothly. Given it was just opening week, everything went really well!
Prices for the dishes range from $9-$26, with most dishes falling in the 12-16$ range. The portions are decently sized too – we could easily have done with 4-5 dishes between 2 of us. Given the quality of food, this is a great deal for the neighborhood, and I’ll definitely be returning to try some of the other dishes on the menu.
Welcome to the neighborhood, Kyirisan!
Kyirisan is open Tuesday-Sunday for dinner 5.30-10pm. Call them for reservations!