Tiger Fork in Shaw opened last night for its first dinner service, bringing a taste of Hong Kong’s fast-paced bar and dining scene to D.C.
The 85-seat bar/restaurant, inside in the former Rogue 24 space, serves up traditional Cantonese dishes such as beef chow fun noodles and whole crispy fish. More creative concoctions include cumin lamb tartare and chili wontons stuffed with turkey and shrimp. (See full menu below.)
In order to capture the Asian city’s food and drink scene correctly, chef Nathan Beauchamp and business partner Greg Algie of the Fainting Goat traveled straight to the source multiple times this year and brought along the designer of the 2,600-square-foot space, EditLab.
The restaurant screams Hong Kong even from the outside: A huge 18-foot geometric window that peeks right into the front bar intentionally has eight sides (the number “eight” is a very lucky number in China, so the octagon is a popular shape).
There are no TVs needed at the octagon-shaped bar, where entertainment comes in the form of watching cocktails get infused with traditional Chinese medicine. The team worked with an herbalist for six months, mixing and matching 500 types of herbs before coming up with the menu, he says.
“If you have fatigue or stress you can have a cocktail and it does work,” says Beauchamp.
The intensive beverage program also incorporates baiju, a hard-to-find Chinese spirit.
Herbal and milk teas will be a big focus, along with tea-infused cocktails — a hot trend right now in D.C.
The man behind the kitchen is executive chef Irvin Van Oordt, a Peruvian native who grew up in Rockville, Md., and has a solid cooking resume at the Michelin-starred Midsummer House in Cambridge, England, and Singapore-based 2am:lab.
Beauchamp is buddies with chef Matt Abergel, co-owner of Yardbird and Sunday's Grocery in Hong Kong, who plans to visit for a taste test soon.
The exterior is awash with bright pink coral (pastels are big in Hong Kong), and more neon lighting is en route. Discolored tiles, also a popular accent in Hong Kong spots, are found throughout.
The renovation of the former space included moving the kitchen from the middle and to the back, making it an open format. An eight-seat chef’s counter lets customers watch the woks and charcoal grill in action.
Its location in Blagden Alley, joining neighbors Columbia Room and The Dabney, was also intentional; alleyway bars are common in the dense city streets of Hong Kong and in Chinatown in San Francisco. And going for a bustling bar vibe means the restaurant will get loud (it’s an open building, after all).
Stateside, the spot is similar to the hip and eccentric Mission Chinese in New York and San Francisco.
Baltimore-based tattoo artist Kike Castillo did two huge murals inside — his first crack at showcasing his work on a big scale. One depicts an iconic scene of two dragons in heaven. The EditLab design also includes reclaimed wood tables, sleek black lacquered accents, and brick walls.
Importing details from Hong Kong took a little longer than expected, hence the delayed opening (the original plan was to shoot for a Chinese New Year opening).
The eatery is open Tuesday through Sunday, from 5 p.m. to midnight on weekdays and until 1 a.m. on weekends. The late night component is key, as it accommodates those in the restaurant industry getting off work and craving Chinese, says Beauchamp.
Dim sum is coming on weekends, with traditional items integrated with Western breakfast items like scrambled eggs on toast and mini sandwiches.
More Hong Kong dim sum restaurants are ridding of a rolling carts, so customers can check off their orders on a sheet of paper just like a sushi system.
A lunch option is being explored, and if it’s done, it would be a small “fast-casual thing,” he says.
Status: Certified open; 922 N St. NW; website.
TF2017_DinnerMENU_R9 by Tierney Plumb on Scribd