Nestled downtown within the Shaw neighborhood, Kyirisan is one of the District’s most exciting new eateries. The restaurant is an expression of chef Tim Ma’s Chinese roots and French culinary training. Open since March, the eatery finds itself located among a mixture of trendy bars and restaurants alike. Kyirisan feels right at home, however, boasting an aggressive approach both to the menu and to the interior design. A combined modern bar and dining room is accented by low — hanging lights and a geometric wall design that appropriately complements the rest of the layout.
Chef Tim Ma has devoted his life to the art of fine food. Having left behind his career in engineering to attend The French Culinary Institute in New York City, Ma leaves no room for error when it comes to his cuisine.
The menu itself offers many obscure options, ranging from sake-brined watermelon to veal marrow to a black truffle congee. Only a few minutes passed before a waiter, noticing our puzzled looks, arrived to answer any initial inquiries. It admittedly takes a long time to work through the options of a menu offering no more than 15 dishes, yet it does not for a moment feel tedious due to the many intriguing options.
On this visit, I chose to sample the deep-fried tofu in a black pepper sauce ($9), as well as the pan-seared scallops atop a coconut risotto and basil ice cream ($20). Acting as a suitable appetizer, the tofu arrived first to the table. Delicately plated within the center of a small bowl with an ample amount of sauce, the tofu itself looked delicious. This proved to be the case, as the tofu seamlessly soaked up the delicious black pepper sauce while blending together multiple textures. This ultimately proved to be the perfect light and flavorful start to the meal, leading nicely into the main course.
The scallops are a specialty at Kyrisian, and we were told to mix in the basil ice cream with the coconut risotto for the best possible flavor. The basil and coconut worked together in perfect harmony, each maintaining a strong presence in the dish without overpowering the other. Yet even with such a delectable risotto and ice cream base, the star of the dish was undoubtedly the trio of pan-seared scallops. Expertly cooked with a golden-brown crust, each and every scallop was succulent.
Unfortunately, the food is expensive. That being said, it is hard to argue that the menu be considered overpriced, as there fails to be anything on it that one would routinely expect to find at a lower price point.
Kyirisan deserves its reputation as a trendy restaurant that experiments with novel flavor combinations in a fun and modern style. Kyirisan’s primary strength lies in its diverse and uniquely inspired menu. Chef Ma is clearly running a restaurant on his own terms, offering relatively common menu options such as sea bass, scallops, and short ribs with a personal twist. Whether you are a foodie seeking out the newest local cuisine, someone looking for a way to spice up a typical meal routine or just an adventurous soul up for a culinary adventure, Kyirisan is sure to provide a memorable experience.