It used to be a chandelier-adorned French bistro serving chilled vichyssoise, steak frites and clafoutis. Now it's an “opium-den” inspired lounge with a menu of Asian street food.
That menu comes courtesy of partner Tim Ma, the chef-owner of Kyirisan in Shaw. “These are all things I grew up eating,” Ma said of the approximately 15-item selection that will include bao, noodles and dumplings. Most of the dough, including those for the bao and soup dumplings, will be made in-house, along with some of the noodles. The Asian pastry selection will feature egg tarts, sesame balls and almond breads.
Ma said the “centerpiece” of the food menu will be his soup dumplings, which will come in pork and beef varieties. As for how the soup gets in, Ma makes a kind of “meat Jell-O” — an aspic using chicken feet — that melts into a broth when heated. Dumplings will be served with a variety of sauces, such as a soy hoisin and sesame chili oil.
The menu was designed with affordability in mind, with food ranging from $7 to $12 and cocktails that clock in at $10.
Like the food, the drinks are also inspired by Asia. The Mekhong Manhattan uses Thailand's Mekhong whiskey, along with sweet vermouth, honey, Angostura bitters and orange peel. Litchi liqueur, made with the creamy fruit native to Southeast Asia, makes an appearance in two cocktails: the litchi martini and 13 Pell, which also features Tito's vodka, cranberry juice and lime.
The 3,200-square-foot space is divided into roughly four rooms. Downstairs, there's a large bar with an intimate “nook” in the back and an adjacent room with additional seating. Upstairs is the second bar, and next to that is an open room Herman would like to use as an event space, at least partially in conjunction with local nonprofits. A back patio will be open on warm months.
The space is meant to meld Asian elements with a Victorian Era vibe, with art that wouldn't look out of place at the Freer and Sackler galleries, and seating that would look right at home in a tea room. “I think comfort was the word that kept coming up,” Herman said.
Comfort will be important because during the day, Ten Tigers will be open as a kind of community gathering space, where customers can hang out, use the WiFi and order food from Ma's menu, in addition to pastries from the chef's team (yes, they're kicking around the idea of a pastry soup dumpling), boba tea and Vietnamese and French-press coffee. Food will also be available for takeout and delivery.
Ten Tigers Parlour, 3813 Georgia Ave. NW. Opening Saturday for dinner daily; lunch to follow.