Editors' pick

Shophouse Southeast Asian Kitchen

$$$$ ($14 and under)

Editorial Review

2011 Fall Dining Guide
By Tom Sietsema
Sunday, October 16, 2011

The best fast-food idea in years channels Vietnam, Singapore and Thailand. That's my chain reaction as I dig into a bowl of steamed jasmine rice strewn with grill-fragrant bites of chicken, green papaya slaw and a pulsing green curry at the fledgling ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen. Expect to find the same lines you see trailing out of a Chipotle branch at prime times; the mindful corporate entity known for high-quality burritos is behind the pleasing banh mi and rice bowls assembled while you watch in a narrow shop in Dupont Circle. The Vietnamese sandwiches are better for their fillings (spicy pork-and-chicken meatballs are first-rate) than with their ordinary bread; the bowls require myriad decisions. As in, what type of protein, vegetable, garnish and sauce do you want on your rice or noodles? ShopHouse lets you have it your way, but I encourage you to go for juicy grilled steak, Chinese broccoli, some pickles, red curry and - last but not least - crushed peanuts on those cool rice noodles. (Yes, there's tofu, too.) This is fast food that shows care.