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What to Order Tonight at Kaliwa’s Highly Anticipated Grand Opening

Early favorites include crunchy pork and spicy curries

Kaliwa co-founder Cathal Armstrong working in the kitchen at his new D.C. restaurant.
Warren Rojas/Eater DC

Highly anticipated Wharf eatery Kaliwa begins serving its version of Southeast Asian cooking March 28 and Eater has a few tips about where to start at the stylish waterfront restaurant.

The are two dozen Filipino, Thai, and Korean dishes featured on the opening menu. A visit on March 27 to the debut D.C. restaurant from Eat Good Food Group co-founders Cathal Armstrong and Meshelle Armstrong revealed that there are also a half dozen desserts — including frosty halo halo featuring purple yam ice cream and condensed milk; mango sticky rice; and Korean-style doughnuts — seven cocktails ($12 each) ranging from frozen mai tais to whiskey drinks combining rye and banana liqueur, 20 imported beers, and two dozen wines by the glass.

The wood-burning grill planted in the open kitchen is used to prepare offerings ranging from fish to marinated chicken, while chefs stir-fry additional pork, meat, and vegetable creations at a row of sizzling woks.

“Get closer to the fried food,” Cathal Armstrong advised a pair of diners as he added a platter of pork and shrimp-filled lumpia to the array of small plates piled up in front of them.

“Which country are you in?” Meshelle Armstrong asked other customers while eyeing their orders.

Early favorites, endorsed by Kaliwa staff and preliminary diners, include:

Kaeng Panaeng ~ Moo-Sam-Chan

The panang curry dish at Kaliwa.
Warren Rojas/Eater DC

This curry dish is the first Thai meal Cathal Armstrong served at Restaurant Eve, his fine dining establishment in Alexandria, Virginia. The extra spicy brew features tofu, cubed pork belly, gochujang pepper paste, lemongrass, shrimp paste, two types of Thai chiles, garlic, basil, shallots, and more.

Hoi Pad Tao-Jiew

Clams in black bean sauce at Kaliwa.
Warren Rojas/Eater DC

Another Thai specialty, this dish features juicy clams soaked in a black bean broth bolstered by onions, hot peppers, herbs, and spices. The velvety sauce is addicting, developing creeper heat with each bite.

Lechon Kawali

Fried pork belly at Kaliwa.
Warren Rojas/Eater DC

This staple of Filipino cooking is represented here by fried pork belly bearing a crackling, salt-studded crust that gives way to buttery meat within. It’s accompanied by pickled vegetables and creamy mang tomas, a sauce made with pork liver.

Status: Scheduled to open at 5:30 p.m. 751 Wharf Street SW; website.

Kaliwa

751 Wharf Street Southwest, , DC 20024 (202) 516-4739 Visit Website

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