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Seasons Experimenting With a Dedicated Chinese Menu

Exotic dishes designed to sate growing number of Asian travelers

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Chicken ramen at Seasons restaurant.
[Mervin Duguran]

The movers and shakers that make up the power breakfast set at Seasons restaurant face a tough decision every morning: Stick with the usual? Or delve into the evolving “Asian Classics” side of the menu?

While the tony Georgetown restaurant generally highlights signature twists on standards like eggs (kale-spinach frittata, anyone?) and sausage (think: chili-covered half-smokes), Four Seasons executive chef Douglas Anderson has quietly been developing a parallel menu drawing from his career-long infatuation with Asian cooking.

“It’s either gotta be real deal or whimsical,” Anderson said of the extremes Chinese food served in most American restaurants tends to inhabit.

He said his first restaurant job was working in a small place that specialized in Cantonese cuisine. He’s been whipping up congee — and ordering it whenever possible while dining out — ever since. “It’s been with me forever,” Anderson said of the enlightening experience.

His passion for authentic Asian food — he said he routinely makes the rounds in Rockville, Md., hitting Great Wall Supermarket, Meixin Supermarket, Maruichi, and New York Mart — has already paid dividends for hotel guests. Anderson said he has always done Chinese dishes by request. Having registered a nearly 60 percent uptick in bookings by Chinese guests from 2015 to 2016, Liliana Baldassari, director of public relations for the Four Seasons, said management urged Anderson to build on the international fare featured at the restaurant.

As part of that outreach Seasons now carries menus that have been translated into Chinese.

Anderson wove chicken ramen into the breakfast menu about a year ago because he said it’s enjoyed that way the world over. “We’re probably not used to it, but noodles for breakfast is the norm in Asian culture,” he said, noting that he’s also spotted it everywhere in Vancouver.

He’s since phased in additional items.

Maryland “crab dip” spring rolls, for instance, were designed to help bridge the gap between East and West.

Maryland “crab dip” spring rolls at Seasons restaurant.
[Mervin Duguran]

“A taste of local in a recognizable form,” is how Anderson described the regionally inspired offering.

He’s also introduced a special fish dish featuring rockfish that is rubbed with cilantro and ginger, grilled, perched atop oyster mushrooms roasted in sesame oil, and bathed in sous vide mushroom broth,

Grilled rockfish at Seasons restaurant.
[Mervin Duguran]

“I really consider cooking food almost like speaking different languages,” Anderson said.