Meiwah? Mais, Oui!
[from April 2000 issue]
Of all the new restaurants in town--and there are plenty--Meiwah
received its fair share of on-the-street buzz. Much of that interest
from its ownership and kitchen staff, both from Dupont Circle's
City Lights of China. Larry La, who had been absent from that place for
has come back in force with his splashy new restaurant on New Hampshire
That it resembles a cross between Tara Thai and elegant Yanu may be no
accident, for management knows that part of what sells a restaurant is
atmosphere, atmosphere, atmosphere.
Location, location, location also helps, and if anything, La's got a good
with his large corner place directly across the street from PARKING, an
lot with plenty of room. Try that in Dupont Circle, where you might circle
block 46 times before finding a space to park.
Of course, food--well, good food--is the third part of what makes
succeed or fail. Judging by our lavish meal recently, a lunchtime eating
of six courses, the food should have mass appeal to its American audience.
staff obviously concluded that these two Western women were bent of
self-destruction, because no sensible soul eats that much midday.
Well, we did, with a few leftovers. And the most outstanding dish, worth
price of the meal (which was high) was the kitchen's utterly sublime
bok choy with Chinese black mushrooms. These are baby bok choy, hence, are
sweet and very tender. Blanched, probably stir-fried with a black bean
and garlic, and served with tender black mushrooms, the bok choy make a
accompaniment for any meat-based entrée, or even several meat-based main
dishes, as we had.
Lamb lovers will celebrate their favorite meat with the restaurant's
though not particularly fiery, Mongolian lamb stirred and tossed with
and garlic in a rich brown sauce. If you spot tiny flecks of red, these
minced red peppers, not chilies, which would have enlivened the dish a
The least worthy dish was the Peking duck, which odds are, the kitchen
oven-roasted without the necessary preamble of blowing the skin away from
meat, then air-drying the duck for several hours to dry out the skin
the final roasting. Served at the table with its traditional flourish, the
duck underwent its complex disjointing just fine, but the skin never
crispy enough to resemble outstanding Peking ducks; the skin must be
crispy to make it seductive in its pancake-and-hoisin-sauce wrap.
What else could we have possibly eaten? Well, as it happens, we started
the restaurant's cold sesame noodles (more sesame sauce, please), crispy
Cornish hen (an unusual appetizer of a whole small bird--disjointed for
eating--served with a dipping sauce), and a lackluster crabmeat asparagus
The menu bears further exploration, for management promises an
some of China's finest regional dishes. However, many dishes sound
Cantonese--which is no bad thing, after all, since that region's cooking
superb--and other dishes sound too familiar. Like, can you eat another
General Tso's chicken or orange beef? Think, instead, of Tinkling Bells
Tofu Curl, or maybe the steamed whole fish cooked Cantonese style--all are
chef's specials and may be really inventive and good. But whatever else
order, include the bok choy for a Lucullan feast.
Meiwah, 1200 New Hampshire Ave.; tel., 833-2888. Hours for lunch &
dinner: Mon.-Thu., 11:30am-10:30pm & Fri. to 11pm; dinner only, Sat.,
& Sun., Noon-10:30pm. Entrées, $10.95 to $25.95. Major credit cards