Michelin recently released DC’s first Michelin Guide and 19 restaurants made the Bib Gourmand list. Bib Gourmand means Michelin thinks the restaurant is good value, where you can get 2 courses and a dessert or a glass of wine for $40 or less. Basically, it means gourmet cheap eats, Michelin approved.
Naturally,…naturally, I had to go investigate.
I chose Kyirisan on the Bib Gourmand list because Kyirisan does Chinese-French fusion, and they have a very exciting menu. Kyirisan is also a fairly new restaurant in DC’s Shaw district, which is like a growing foodie hub in the city. (I’m trying not to write in all-caps, because no one likes to read shouty caps, but rest assured, I am very excited about this!!!!!)
My first course, pan-seared scallop with coconut, scallion risotto and basil ice cream. This dish was one of the reason why I came to Kyirisan. Coconut? Scallop? Basil Ice cream? Whaaat?
I was definitely intrigued and was surprised by how these three ingredients sort of fit together in a very quirky way. Those 4 fatty scallops were seared nice and tender with just a subtle sweetness from the caramelization. The coconut risotto was mixed with scallions so while the coconut was creamy and sweet, almost dessert-like, the scallion’s spice kept everything even-keeled. The basil ice cream definitely stood out. While I mixed the melted ice cream into the risotto, the sweetness of the ice cream was still clear. The basil does make the ice cream less dessert-like, but because it was so cold I didn’t think it blended as well with the rest of the dish. The whole thing overall leaned more sweet than savory, but it was very fun to eat and definitely a new twist on a decadent comfort food like risotto.
Such a beautiful platter. Seriously, I love the plates and flatwear at Kyirisan, very minimalist, earthy and just a little imperfect.
This is the black truffle congee with duck confit, egg yolk, natto and generous piles of scallion and sliced ginger. The congee came with sauces like chili oil, Chinese black vinegar, and light soy sauce, which is actually quite traditional, but honestly, the congee itself was a flavor bomb and I didn’t think the additional condiments were necessary. The duck confit was tender, well-seasoned, but I think the flavor of the duck confit was so strong, it sort of overpowered the rest of the dish. The scallions and ginger are traditional condiments for congee, and they made the congee a little spicy. I am glad that the natto they chose was not the extremely salty version, because the congee itself was already well-seasoned, so the natto just kind of added some texture contrast to the dish. I really love the dish, it was delicious and presented beautifully. However, the menu said this is a black truffle congee. I was expecting some truffle rain action, but only found slivers of black truffle in the congee. With all the other flavors in the congee, the signature earthy truffle flavor was also sort of subdued.
I really like Kyirisan’s approach to food pairings. Their approach is creative, kinda quirky, and the food taste great. I can also see how they blend the French and Chinese influences in their dishes, like duck confit with congee, and scallion in risotto. And their wonderful fusion style is evident in their desserts too.
Yes, I had two again. Yes, the temptation was too great. No, I have no regrets.
This is the pandan cheesecake with chocolate crust, chocolate gaze, pandan anglaise, szechuan whip cream and candied hazelnuts. Isn’t it gorgeous! I’m quite sure I saw pandan and chocolate pairings at Philippino bakeries in Vancouver, but I honestly have not come across them in a cheesecake form. Very intriguing and the combination actually works. While the chocolate was very rich, dark and sweet, I can still taste the light, herby, almost grassy flavor of the pandan. Inside the chocolate dome is the green pandan cheesecake, which is a little softer than I would like, but that’s just my preference. However, as sexy as this cheesecake look, one thing I did not like is the chocolate crust on the bottom. The chocolate crust was just a little sweet, though I wish it was a little more bitter and smokey to balance the sweet cheesecake. Also, the chocolate crust was rock. hard. It did not crumble easily under the spoon. I had to honestly saw at the crust to get it to break. I hope this is a one-off thing, because overall, I really enjoyed the food at Kyirisan, so this mishap is rather surprising.
Saving the best for the last is, “the basic”: sweet potato cake, brown butter buttercream, sweet potato ganache, red miso marshmallow fluff and butter pecan ice cream.
This dessert is honestly called the basic, which is definitely an understatement. There is nothing basic about this dessert. There are so many elements and flavors on this plate and they balance each other so well. The sweet potato layer cake was quite sweet and dense. It was also chilled, so I thought it tasted great with the torched marshmallow beside it. What really won me over were the red miso and the butter pecan ice cream. The red miso was just a little salty, which cuts through the sweetness of the dessert. And the butter pecan ice cream was incredibly nutty and the toasted pecan had a great crunch and added lots of texture to the dish.
I had an incredible time at Kyirisan. While the restaurant was not the cheapest, I can see why Michelin awarded them with the Bib Gourmand. I think I will probably come back in the future, just because there are still so many options on the menu that I haven’t tried yet. Plus, Shaw is like my new favorite neighborhood in DC right now. There are exciting, new restaurants on every street, it’s like I’m going on an adventure there.