The pending Tim Ma restaurant in Shaw formerly known as Freehand has a new name: Kyirisan.
We don't blame Ma and his wife and co-owner Joey Hernandez for coming up with something so unique. After announcing that the couple's first project in the District (they also own Ballston's Water & Wall) would be named Freehand, they were threatened with a legal challenge from a hospitality group that operates several hostels with the same name.
This time, their trademark application is in, and Ma is confident the new moniker will stick.
"We wanted to give the restaurant a name that meant something to us," Ma said, and that kept coming down to their three kids, ages 5, 3 and 9 months. "We somehow wanted to incorporate them into the name."
Kyirisan is derived from the Chinese words "kun" (pronounced like "quinn") and the phonetic spellings of "one," "two" and "three," or "yi," "er" and "san." Ma said the significance of "kun" is that it is the name assigned to his children's generation, the last in a line of 20 chosen by "some Ma guy" way back when. To form the restaurant name, Ma and Hernandez combined the "k" from "kun" with the Chinese numbers. (It's pronounced like kyr-i-sahn.)
"It sounds definitely more Asian-Chinese," Ma said. That prompted him to rethink the menu and the overall restaurant, which should open by December in the new Shay apartment building. (Chase the Submarine, his new sandwich and butcher shop co-owned with Michael Amouri, should open in Vienna in October.) Previously, Ma had billed the project as a French-Asian bistro and, subtle as it sounds, it will now be more of an Asian-French bistro. The redesigned logo sports the word "kun" in Chinese.
"I think we've just been denying our Chinese-ness for a long time, and now just seemed like the right time to embrace it," the chef said.