Tuesday, November 22, 2011

ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen: Southeast Asian Food Right From its Roots

Have you heard about the new Asian-themed Chipotle spinoff? Unfortunately the only one stateside is in Dupont Circle in Washington DC. From what I have gathered, it may be worth taking the train down south just for one meal. ShopHouse just recently opened in mid-September and I am crossing my fingers hoping that one opens soon in Philadelphia. The idea behind this restaurant is to follow the distinct Chipotle model with fast, customizable, and fresh food options, but this time with an Asian flare. A shophouse is a traditional, architectural design located in the older quarters of cities in Southeast Asia. Industrious families tend to work upstairs while simultaneously managing a restaurant on the ground level. McDonalds in America is the equivalent to shophouses in Asia.

The typical food items arising from these long-established kitchens include rice and noodle bowls combined with various sauces, meats, and vegetables. With numerous mixings, it is a food staple that can be eaten on a daily basis. Like Chipotle, ShopHouse distinguishes itself with its organic meats and fresh vegetables. The menu begins with the choice of jasmine rice, brown rice, or chilled rice noodles. The next step down the line is to choose a protein: grilled chicken satay, grilled steak, pork and chicken meatballs, or tofu. Then come the vegetables. The options include Chinese broccoli, wok-fried with chili vinegar, spicy charred corn, eggplant with Thai basil (my cousin in DC said this was absolutely delicious), and long beans with caramelized onions. As hard as it is to believe, we are not finished yet. Next comes the choice of a sauce: either green curry, spicy red curry, or Tamarind vinaigrette. If your bowl is not filled to its brim at this point, they offer garnishes and crispy toppings as well. The garnishes include pickles mixed with radishes, carrots, and cucumbers, a green papaya slaw, or an herb salad. Lastly, one can choose from crispy garlic, crushed peanuts, or toasted rice to top it all off. In addition, for those who fancy a more substantial and Americanized version of the traditional Southeast Asian meal, Shophouse offers a Banh Mi. This option includes a freshly baked piece of bread (looks like the bread in a meatball sub) with a choice of meat or tofu and the various garnishes listed above.

One last thing. For those who are over 21, they even carry authentic beers like Singha from Thailand and BeerLao from Laos.

Now if this does not leave your mouth watering, I do not know what will.

Picture courtesy of ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen.

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