Slideshow: We Tried Everything at Chipotle's New ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen in D.C.

Pork and chicken meatball banh mi
Pork and chicken meatball banh mi
The meatball banh mi was the best dish hands-down. Juicy, flavorful, incredibly crispy on the outside like an excellent falafel, with fresh herbs visibly mixed into the meat, the protein alone made this sandwich worth ordering. A spicy Sriracha mayo with a bit of lime juice gave the meatballs a spicy kick. The crunchiness of the green papaya slaw and nuttiness of the crushed peanuts topped with a pretty though unnecessary herb garnish, all tucked into a soft roll made for a perfectly balanced meal. While the bread seemed to overpower the sandwich when paired with other proteins, it seemed just right here.
Chicken and pork meatballs with jasmine rice, spicy charred corn, pickled veggies, and herb salad
Chicken and pork meatballs with jasmine rice, spicy charred corn, pickled veggies, and herb salad
Much like in the banh mi, the meatballs are the stars. The jasmine rice is tender yet firm; the “pickled veggies” really seemed to be just carrots. They're pretty limp, though I suppose it can be tough to keep them fresh tasting when they’re sitting around all day. If there had been actual variety, maybe they would have garnered more praise. The charred corn tasted like it came from a can, kind of mushy and spritzed with artificial lime juice. The “herb salad” garnish is mostly for show, though tasted alone, you'll get a hit of cilantro from it. This would have been a pleasant flavor addition if I could have actually tasted it in any dish.
Steak banh mi with papaya slaw
Steak banh mi with papaya slaw
The steak probably came in second in the protein rankings. It was intensely flavorful, often overpowering other ingredients, but working well enough in the banh mi. The thick-cut papaya slaw stood up well texturally to the steak, though the meat proved an epic struggle to some when it came time to actually eat the sandwich. If it had been chopped smaller or sliced thinner, it might have made chewing easier and we wouldn’t have looked so barbaric tearing away at the meat. The spices on the steak overtook even the Sriracha mayo—not an easy task.
Grilled chicken satay banh mi
Grilled chicken satay banh mi
The chicken is fine on its own, but it gets lost in the banh mi. The slaw and pickled veggies don’t stay in the sandwich too well, and you’re mostly left struggling with a heck of a lot of bread (I tore off some from the ends) and some pretty boring chicken. It’s not bad, but it’s not good.
Grilled chicken satay with jasmine rice, Chinese broccoli, spicy red curry, slaw, and crispy garlic
Grilled chicken satay with jasmine rice, Chinese broccoli, spicy red curry, slaw, and crispy garlic
The chicken fared a bit better in the bowl, but the real centerpiece of this combination was the red curry. It packed a surprising amount of heat, but wasn’t so powerful that the heat-intolerant would be turned off. It’s the kind of spice that creeps up on you and hits your entire mouth with a tingly, mild burn. The red curry probably wouldn’t pair well with the heavily seasoned steak, but it meshes well with some of the vegetables and perhaps the meatballs. The crispy garlic wasn’t necessary, and the Chinese broccoli was forgettable but inoffensive. The red curry really is the star of the dish.
Tofu banh mi
Tofu banh mi
I’m really not sure what the point of a tofu banh is beyond giving vegetarians an option. The tofu itself is crumbly and could have been marinated a lot longer to give it actual flavor. With so much bread, you might not know the tofu’s even there. As one tofu lover said, if you like tofu, you’ll think it’s fine at ShopHouse. If you don’t, this isn’t going to change your mind.
The whole menu
The whole menu
Divided by bowls and banh mis, with options for proteins, as well as sauce and veggie additions.