Courtesy The Backroom at Kingbird
Courtesy The Backroom at Kingbird

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Something’s gurgling at restaurant tables, and it’s not your stomach. Several area eateries are using hot infusion siphons to add a little drama at the dinner table. These bong-mimicking machines are characterized by two glass orbs connected by tubing that relies on expanding and contracting water vapor to transfer liquid back and forth. Chefs are using them to infuse flavor into everything from tea to soup.

The Backroom at Kingbird

Chef Michael Santoro utilizes his siphon for the bouillabaisse on his tasting menu. He says it has quickly become a favorite, especially because there’s no mention of the fanfare that accompanies the dish on the menu. The bouillabaisse contains lobster, scallops, and saffron scented jus created using the siphon. The Backroom at Kingbird located inside The Watergate Hotel offers a three-course ($75) and four-course ($95) tasting menu.

The Backroom at Kingbird, 2650 Virginia Ave. NW; (202) 827-1600;

Rey Lopez


At Sushiko’s new restaurant within a restaurant, the elegant tasting menu experience begins with what looks like space-age tea service. The restaurant uses the siphon for a welcoming green tea made briny by kombu (sea kelp). They call it “kombu cha,” which is wordplay on “kombucha.” Kōbō offers a vegan tasting menu Mondays through Wednesdays ($130 including tax and tip) and a non-vegan tasting menu Thursdays through Saturdays ($160 including tax and tip).

Kōbō, 5455 Wisconsin Ave., Chevy Chase, MD; (301) 961-1644;

Laura Hayes

Joselito Casa de Comidas

New Spanish restaurant, Joselito, makes an even bigger show of their dish with a siphon by sending along a server with a blowtorch to heat up soup. This soup ($12) is called “consomé de pollo con chorizo y hierbabuena,” and it’s what moms make for their kids in Spain. Chef David Sierra, who hails from Madrid,calls it the chicken noodle soup of his home country and suggests it can also work as a hangover cure. In addition to chicken broth, it contains chorizo, spearmint, and raw egg.

Joselito Casa de Comidas, 660 Pennsylvania Ave. SE; (202) 930-6955;

Courtesy Plume


Located inside The Jefferson, Plume uses a siphon for a soup-meets-tea hybrid they call “Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab Tea.” It features jumbo lump crab, chili oil pearls, black sesame, and tomato. The dish from Executive Chef Ralf Schlegel is an appetizer on the restaurant’s three-course, prix-fixe menu ($102). 

Plume,1200 16th St. NW; (202) 448-3227;