City Paper is not for tourists
Update (Thursday 8 a.m.): Ten Tigers Parlour will open at 5 p.m. not 11 a.m. on Saturday.
You have some homework to do before you visit Ten Tigers Parlour when it opens Saturday in the former Chez Billy space in Petworth (3813 Georgia Ave. NW). That’s because the all-day Asian street food bar meets tea house serves elusive, soul-satisfying, soup dumplings (or xiao long bao).
While delicious, there’s definitely a right way and several wrong ways to eat them. Chef Tim Ma of Kyirisan, who is responsible for the menu, explains. “Poke or bite a hole in it, dump the soup out into the spoon, then more sauce, dippy dippy.”
If that’s not clear enough, here’s a tutorial.
Ma predicts soup dumplings will be the star at Ten Tigers Parlour because they’re not too common in the District, despite having a bit of a cult following. But the menu also includes bao, noodles, pan-fried dumplings, skewers, and Japanese rice bowls (donburi) all priced at $7-$12. Another dish Ma is excited to serve is the “Marco Polo Noodles” because the recipe is from his Uncle Paul. It features thin spaghetti, cucumber, shitake mushrooms, and a broad bean ragu.
Ma was drawn to the Ten Tigers project because he’s happy to have an outlet to cook more affordable food. “It’s been a relief coming down from the Michelin level to what everyone really wants to eat,” he says. “You put food down on the plate, it’s not fussy, but it’s just as tasty.”
That’s not to say the chef is cutting corners. Most of the doughs are made in house, and they have an arsenal of house-made sauces that they hope to build upon including soy hoisin and soybean sambal. While Ma masterminded the menu, Chef Nyi Nyi Myint will execute it, freeing up Ma to continue cooking at Kyirisan.
During the day, Ten Tigers will serve as a wi-fi equipped tea house where neighbors can bring their laptops and hang for the day. Pastry Chef Mollie Bird has dreamed up a selection of pastries such as egg tarts, sesame balls, and almond bread to pair with the boba tea menu (sometimes called bubble tea). Boba tea flavors range from green tea melon to Thai iced tea.
At night, the bar from from Scott Herman and brothers Ian and Eric Hilton will come alive, especially because they’ve secured an entertainment license making live bands and DJs possibilities. Cocktails ($10 each) include the Mekhong Manhattan with Thai whiskey, sweet vermouth, honey, angostura bitters, and orange peel; Singapore Sling with Plymouth Gin, cherry brandy, sweet and sour, club soda, and grenadine; and a Lychee Martini with lychee liqueur, Three Olives Voda, and lychee juice.
The Ten Tigers Parlour space will be unrecognizable to former Chez Billy regulars. Designer Joe Reza, who also created the look and feel of American Ice Company, dramatically transformed the space. For starters, there’s no longer double mezzanines looking down at the bar area. The ceiling has been filled in, creating an upstairs that can be used for a wide-range of events. Maybe even DJ-fueled yoga classes, according to Herman who executed such events when he was with U Street Music Hall.
Downstairs, the dining room is especially striking because the dry wall has been stripped bare, revealing a curiously glittering foundation that Reza punctuated with replicas of ancient Chinese paintings. There’s also an outdoor patio planned for the spring.
While the bar won’t take reservations, there are several private spaces that can be reserved for parties, including a small lounge dubbed “the nook.”
Food will be served from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. on weekdays and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekends and the bar will stay open until 2 a.m. on weekdays and 3 a.m. on weekends.
Check out the food menu and additional photos of the food, space, and drinks below.
Food menu (subject to change):
Handmade Soup Dumplings (Xiao Long Bao) – $12 (2 to an order)
Ground Pork | Chinese Chives | Pork Chicken Broth | Black Vinegar
Ground Beef | Carrot Celery | Chicken Broth | Black Vinegar
Handmade Bao Buns – $9 (2 to an order)
Ground Pork | Chinese Chives | Tamari
Ground Chicken | Carrot Celery | Ginger
Handmade Pan-Fried Dumplings – $7 (4 to an order)
Ground Pork | Chinese Chive
Ground Chicken | Carrot Celery | Ginger
Egg | Shitake | Glass Noodles
Noodles – $11
Marco Polo Noodles | Thin Spaghetti | Cucumber | Shitake | Broad Bean Ragu
Soy Braised Beef | Rice Noodles | Soy Broth | Soft Boiled Egg
Ginger Scallion Noodles | Ramen | Ginger | Scallion | Sesame
Rice Donburi – $10
(Rice w/ fried egg and pickles)
Braised pork belly
Skewers – $10
Braised pork belly | Carrot | Onion
Marinated Chicken | Squash | Peppers
Spicy Prawn | Pineapple | Red Onion