Firstly, Healthy and Chinese are not two words I typically use in the same sentence. Secondly, Rosslyn, Virginia is no dining destination in my mind. Challenging both those notions is Secret Chopsticks, which just opened in Rosslyn, and serves authentic, HEALTHY Chinese fare with a contemporary twist. Curiosity aroused! I soon realized that Secret Chopsticks is not going to be the typical MSG laden take out style “Chinese” food.
Location: In a fairly nondescript condo building in Rosslyn – just a couple of minutes’ walk from the Rosslyn metro. Easily walkable from Georgetown as well, right across the Key Bridge.
Décor: Open space with high ceilings, Asian art, hand painted umbrellas and white table cloths. There is a main dining room, and lounge and a bar area. Come spring and summer, the patio will be a welcome addition to the dead zone that is Rosslyn.
Food: The restaurant specializes in authentic, healthy Chinese fare presented in a contemporary way incorporating fresh, locally sourced ingredients whenever possible. They offer an al la carte menu or a prix-fixe tasting menu (which incorporates dim-sum, protein, tofu, vegetable). A la Carte menu and the tasting menu are both available throughout the restaurant.
I started off with a lychee martini. Typically, I find lychee drinks sickeningly sweet, but this one was a refreshing change. Plus, the lychee comes bruleed, which is a nice (and delicious!) twist. Cocktails here have Asian flavors incorporated, and the wine list is extensive with 20 options by the glass and a number of bottles from around the world.
For dinner, we tried a number of different plates, each beautifully presented! Take a look.
One of my favorite dishes of the night was the Chilled tofu with Spicy sauce. The tofu, which is made in house every day, is absolutely smooth, and the sauce definitely has a kick. Fantastic dish that I am still thinking about!
As we got to the desert course, I was told it would be a durian pastry with durian ice cream. I had never had durian before but was skeptical, considering it is banned in public spaces in some countries due to its terrible smell. Chef Li explained to us that cooking the fruit gets rid of the odor for the most part.
Either way, when I tasted it, I was pleasantly surprised. It definitely has a slightly funky smell, but with the crisp puff pastry and the ice cream, it went pretty well together. From my first durian experience, I don’t get all the hatred towards the fruit! If you have not tried it before, or if you hated it when you did, give it a try at Secret Chopsticks – you might just change your mind.
All in all, Secret Chopsticks is definitely not afraid to take risks and I’m sure it will pay off for them! It also says a lot when the restaurant is quick to adapt to guest feedback - Secret Chopsticks has already made some menu and price alterations based on initial feedback. I look forward to going back for lunch, and of course for that patio come spring.
1. Open for lunch and dinner. They also have a happy hour Mon-Fri from 4-7pm in the lounge.
2. Tasting menu costs $89 and can be customized for vegetarians, a la carte items are in the $6 - $20 range. See the full menu HERE.
3. Chef Li, who trained at the CIA has a steakhouse in China. This is his first restaurant in the US!
(All photos courtesy Secret Chopsticks)