Mrs. Chow and I have a special place in our heart for asian food because of the unbeatable quantity to value to tastiness ratio. So when we heard about Shophouse, we knew we had to try it.
Shophouse is a southeast asian fast food joint that recently opened in Dupont Circle. We think it’s owned by the burrito guru who started Chipotle. As far we know, the DC shop is the first and only Shophouse location so far. Shophouse appears to operate on the same winning principals as Chipotle: tasty, quick, affordable food. Like Chipotle, most items cost $7-8, and ordering is done along a counter where you select your carb, protein, sauce, veggies, and toppings. The ShopHouse website is a great way to learn about the options in each category. There are a ton of combo possibilities, but at the core, diners are concocting delicious banh mi (sandwiches), rice bowls, or noodle bowls.
Serious Eats did a write up of all the combos they tried. We decided to follow their lead and order similar things. We got:
1) Banh Mi with Pork & Chicken meatballs, Green papaya slaw, and sriracha mayo
Overall the banh mi was quite tasty. We agree with many others — the meatballs and sriracha mayo are the way to go. The papaya slaw was as expected and added a nice flavor to the sandwich. By the time we got there, they ran out of anything bright green. The green stuff would’ve added a nice additional flavor dimension. But even without it, we devoured the entire thing . So the big question is how does this compare to the other banh mi we’ve had in Northern Virginia? ShopHouse is right up there in taste. The only thing that would make ShopHouse even more delicious is the bread and the price. Perhaps a little less chewy, a bit crustier on the outside, and fluffier on the inside. Also, at $3-$4 more per sandwich than most shops in Eden Center, we might not make a special trip to ShopHouse just for the sandwich.
2) Jasmine rice bowl with grilled steak, eggplant & thai basil, green curry sauce, green papaya slaw, and crushed peanuts
We really liked all the flavor action going on in the jasmine rice bowl. The portion size was really good, but not over the top like a giant Chipotle burrito. The white jasmine rice was cooked perfectly and held up well against all the other ingredients and sauce. The beef was sliced unlike Chipotle’s cubed method, and it turned out to be very tender and flavorful. The slaw had just the right amount of crunch and the carrots added a nice punch of color. The eggplant was a little mushy, but still had a decent consistency and taste. There wasn’t too much basil taste to the eggplant, and the peanuts didn’t add much flavor either. But most likely because the mild green curry sauce was a stronger taste. Next time I get a bowl (yes, there will be a next time), I might try it without any curry sauce or with a lot less of it so that I can taste all the other great flavors a bit more.
3) Jasmine rice bowl with pork & chicken meatballs, eggplant & thai basil, red curry sauce, green papaya slaw, and crushed peanuts
This bowl had similar elements and flavors as the beef bowl, but with a lot more spice due to the red curry sauce. Mrs. Chow likes spice (ie kim chee, jalapenos on her subway, hot peppers on her potbelly), but can’t handle too much heat. This was definitely too hot for her to eat. As with the green curry sauce, the red curry sauce dominated a lot of the other flavors in the bowl. Don’t get me wrong, it was still really delicious, but next time I will get my meatballs sauceless.
Overall we really liked ShopHouse and would recommend it to anyone looking for good, fast, tasty, affordable south asian food. We can’t think of anywhere else that serves up rice bowls this good. We will definitely be back to try more fun rice bowl combinations. Good one Mr. Chipotle burrito guru man. Good one.
ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen – Dupont Circle
1516 Connecticut Ave NW
11am – 10pm daily
Note: We tried to call in a take out order, but no one picked up the phone.