ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen is jumping on the seasonal-food bandwagon. The Chipotle spinoff, launched in Dupont Circle in 2011, is giving diners the option of adding a springy kale to their rice bowls. The kale is available beginning today at the mini-chain's three existing locations -- in Dupont, Georgetown and Bethesda -- and will be on the menu at the new Chinatown location, slated to open Tuesday at 11 a.m at 710 Seventh St. NW.
While there's hardly a restaurant that hasn't put forth kale in the past two years (we're just waiting for the Mickey D's kale salad), but consider this one a good option for area vegans and vegetarians -- and for less than $10 to boot. We asked Tim Wildin, brand director for ShopHouse, to put together his ideal bowl using the kale, an ingredient he says isn't necessarily authentic to Thai cooking, but reminiscent of some of the dark leafy greens he's tried on trips abroad.
Wildin explained that the kale, like the charred eggplant, blistered green beans and corn options, is prepared separately from meat, in a veggies-only wok; once he had piled up our bowl, he had prepared a vegan dish.
Wildin started with jasmine rice, a staple of Thai cuisine. He then added organic tofu prepared with tamarind, vinegar, ginger, lime and sugar, followed by the sauteed minced kale, which is quickly wok-cooked with Thai chilies and rice vinegar. Finally, he added pickled vegetables, tamarind dressing and a fish-sauce-free version of the chili sauce known as nam phrik and pulverized garlic chips.
The bowl was sour and spicy on its own, but if we tried it again, we'd ask for more basil and other herbs to temper that tartness. They play perfectly with the kale.