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Above Blagden Alley’s newest kitchen are a set of characters that translate as “Talk Doesn’t Cook the Rice.” It’s an apt Chinese proverb to display at Tiger Fork because after months and months of planning and research trips, the modern Hong Kong-inspired restaurant is opening its doors Sunday at 5 p.m.
You’ll immediately forget that the space initially housed Rogue 24 because of the blast of color, plus the reconfiguration that removed Chef R.J. Cooper’s show kitchen from the center of the room.
Baltimore-based tattoo artist Kike Castillo spent a month spray-painting the walls of the 62-seat dining area, and elements of feng shui were incorporated into the design. The window that gives Tiger Fork its unique facade, for example, is in the shape of a bagua octagon, as is the bar that seats 22.
If you’re thinking this place looks more high-energy than quiet dinner for two, you’re probably right. A strip of communal tables runs down the center of the dining room, encouraging conversation among strangers, and the overall feel is energetic and young.
One of Tiger Fork’s goals is to start with dinner but eventually ramp up late-night dining, cranking out food come midnight on weekdays and 1 a.m. on weekends. Owner Greg Algie (who is also behind The Fainting Goat) suggests his restaurant will attract the industry crowd for this reason. “For some people, it’s closer than Chinatown,” he says.
The drink program led by Ian Fletcher will be a big draw. Fletcher has spent much of his time lately experimenting with various spices, roots, and barks because Tiger Fork’s cocktail list is based on Chinese medicine. He even consulted a doctor to ensure he accurately described his potions and their proposed remedies.
Fletcher admits that the cocktails are not in fact medicinal because “patients” need to consume the ingredients over long periods of time to see an impact. “It’s a neat way to boost regular clientele,” he jokes. Joining Fletcher on the beverage front is local sommelier and winemaker Sebastian Zutant, who consulted on the wine list.
The kitchen is in the hands of executive Chef Irvin Van Oordt, though Chef Nathan Beauchamp is also involved as a business partner at the restaurant. Van Oordt’s menu includes Kowloon buns stuffed with tender dairy cow meat; a bar snack called crispy sour potatoes that intermingles French fries and pickled sticks of raw potato; and a soul-satisfying spare rib casserole.
Van Oordt makes many of the restaurant’s condiments. Having worked at Rappahannock Oyster Bar, the chef used his connections to source Virginia oysters for his own oyster sauce, which won easily when we did a blind taste test this afternoon comparing it to a mass produced commercial variety.
The Tiger Fork menu is short and concise for now but will grow as the kitchen gets comfortable. They’re already planning a return trip to Hong Kong to have more ideas in time to launch dim sum brunch in a couple of months.
For now, Tiger Fork will be open for dinner every night except Monday starting at 5 p.m. Reservations will be accepted for parties of six or more. See below for more photos and the menus.
Tiger Fork, 922 N. St. NW; (202) 733-1152; tigerforkdc.com