There's been a lot of buzz around town surrounding the opening of Chipotle's new Southeast Asia-inspired ShopHouse, despite the company's best efforts to keep it under wraps. While it's still unclear as to why CEO Steve Ells would open the first (and only planned) location here in D.C., residents seem to be pretty pleased about it.
When it finally opened last Thursday in Dupont Circle, we decided to wait out the workday lunch crowds and went at 11 a.m. on Sunday morning. Even though most District yuppies do the brunch thing on weekends, a consistent line a couple of people deep formed by noon.
The menu is laid out much like Chipotle's: choose a bowl or a banh mi, then your choice of protein. If you're getting a bowl, pick from a jasmine rice, brown rice, or cold rice noodles base, then top your protein with one veggie, one sauce, one garnish, and one topping; though like Chipotle you can certainly omit layers.
I put my math-minded friend in charge of ordering the bowls to make sure we got every ingredient in every category in at least one bowl. The staff on the line seemed unfazed and even eager to help us figure out the best combinations of flavors.
We needed two tables for the bowls, banh mis, coconut water, and two flavors of Bruce Cost ginger ales we ordered.
The fryer hadn't been working when we first ordered, meaning the pork and chicken meatballs weren't initially available, but they were ready after we finished the first six dishes.
ShopHouse had unwittingly saved the best for last—we claimed these a win all around. Anything these meatballs touched turned to delicious, juicy gold. We all agreed we'd come back for the meatballs alone. I'm still thinking about them days later.