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Hot off the heals of Northern Virginia Magazine naming Vienna’s Maple Ave Restaurant the best restaurant in northern Virginia, chef Tim Ma has just opened his second spot: Water & Wall.

The new restaurant, located right by the Virginia Square metro, shares several of the same menu items as Maple Ave, including popular dishes like shrimp and grits, saffron mussels, and chicken wings. But Ma says he wants Water & Wall to have its own identity, rather than being a copy of Maple Ave. Other dishes include pan-seared red drum with winter squash puree, roasted beets, leeks, and pickled cabbage; sweet potato risotto; and pork shoulder with chow chow relish, grilled scallions, and garlic oil. Ma also highlights a Burmese bouillabaisse created by chef de cuisine Nyi Nyi Myint, who’s from Burma and London. The menu includes a limited beer and wine list; cocktails are in the works.  

The restaurant gets its name from Water and Wall streets in New York, where Ma and his wife lived when he was in culinary school at the French Culinary Institute. “That’s when we started the journey on this whole thing, lots of inspiration, lots of dreaming,” Ma says. “That’s what culinary students do in New York City: dream up their own restaurant.”

Ma says the biggest difference between Maple Avenue and Water & Wall was the build-out. Maple Ave, which opened in 2009, was built by Ma and his friends over the course of a summer. “Every day after work, they would all come over and we would just hang out, put up drywall, scrape floors, clean,” he says. “We literally built that with our own bare hands.”

But for Water & Wall, he hired a professional interior design and architecture firm called Studio Ideya. The designer, Sucha Khamsuwan, actually went to New York to draw inspiration from what he saw at the intersection of Water and Wall streets. Ma says there’s a lot of brick, metal, and hard surfaces, but also some nods to the name like the flowing, waterlike curtains.

Still, Ma says he hopes both places have the same casual contemporary vibe: “We don’t want it to feel like you’re dining at a high-end restaurant. We want you to feel like you’re dining at Maple Avenue but with just the nicer touches that everybody has been asking for.”

Water & Wall, 3811 North Fairfax Drive, Suite 105, Arlington; (703) 294-4949; waterandwall.com

Photo via Water & Wall