From its place atop a green banana leaf, the portion of fried chicken that Thamee will serve for the first time tonight speaks to multiple people and places at once. The show-stopping Burmese spot, recently named Eater D.C.’s 2019 Restaurant of the Year, is nodding toward Southeast Asian train stations, D.C. carry-outs, and the former occupant of its H Street space by introducing a Monday night special that comes with half-price beers.
Chef Jocelyn Law-Yone says her chicken is similar to a snack that Burmese vendors hustle out to sell at train stations when cars come to a halt. At Thamee, the chicken is marinaded in fish sauce and lime, then dusted with a dry rub that includes turmeric, ginger, garlic, and a light touch of AP flour. A bold blast of turmeric is particularly Burmese, Law-Yone says.
“It’s street food. Mostly I think of it as something I eat on the train,” she says, adding that she might also find it at a night market or a movie screening.
Sally’s Middle Name, which preceded Thamee in its H Street building, used to host a fried chicken night, too.
For $24, the fried chicken comes with one of four sides: lahpet thoke (pickled tea leaf salad); chickpea tofu fries that come with a side of tomato sauce and a topping of a funky balachaung condiment based in dried fish, shrimp, and chiles; vertically sliced halves of okra fried in a rice flour batter; or duck fried rice. Additional sides can be added for $8. Bottles of Beerlao, San Miguel Dark lager, and Sankofa Harmattan Haze are all half-off. The special is available from 5:30 p.m. until the chicken runs out.
Law-Yone has also developed a Burmese riff on mumbo sauce that gets sweet and sour notes from jaggery (brown, unrefined sugar) and tamarind. Along with the idea of pairing fried chicken with fried rice, the mumbo sauce is a clear reference to Chinese carry-outs in D.C. that sell wings late into the night.
Co-owner Simone Jacobson says the “BFC” Mondays could help boost business on a typically slower night, but it was also important for Thamee to do something special when many of its customers are visiting cooks, bartenders, and front-of-house staff from other restaurants.
“I always had this pipe dream that I had a restaurant that only serves ‘family meal,’” Jacobson says.
“Monday is already such an industry-heavy night for us,” she continues. “It’s like a love letter to the industry for us that we’re going to cook on Monday nights the way that we want to eat most.”