Image: Currying flavor.
Last Updated: November 2023
Tim Ma made his name with sophisticated food in shiny settings only to move onto much more casual approaches. Now he is bringing back his higher-end approach, mixing it with comfort food, and serving it in a sunny and casual corner spot that feels like a cross between the Seinfeld diner and Hopper’s Nighthawks.
Any Day Now began by offering breakfast in the space previously occupied by ABC Pony. The signature dish is a thin, crispy scallion pancake encasing a square of scrambled eggs to make a breakfast sandwich. There are three variations to add to the egg: bacon, sausage, and kimchi. All are served with a piquant creamy sauce and garlic-chili soy sauce on the side that is better scooped than dipped. The sandwiches are substantial enough to make lunch optional. Other breakfast options include French pastries (now sourced from the excellent Pluma) and some in-house options like muffins, cinnamon rolls and slices of cake. The coffee service is quite strong.
Breakfast is counter service, but for dinner they switch to sit-down, though there is a long bar that fills up.
Dinner brings even more creativity and punch to comfort food (one of Ma’s other endeavors is the throwback Chinese-American spot Lucky Danger). According to the Post, Ma gave Chef de Cuisine/co-owner Matt Sperber menus for his old spots, American Son, Kyirisan, Water & Wall and Maple Avenue, and “told him to apply his own story to whatever dishes he envisioned for Any Day Now.” Sperber, whose Jersey roots are not far from New York diners, and Ma have pulled off the tricky move of mixing high-end, Asian-inspired cuisine with American comfort food but keeping it interesting instead of obvious.
The menu is divided into “snacks” that can be appetizers – like a crudo, croquettes, or plantain tots – or fit for sharing over a drink. The small plates are somewhere between appetizers and sides. The standout on our recent visit was the roasted honey nut squash that, though it had its shape in tact, was almost puree like in smoothness. For a sauce the squash wedges are layered over Korean ssamjang that is a thick paste with spicy and sweet elements like a BBQ sauce. At Any Day Now, the combination works like brown sugar and cookie (or pumpkin if you prefer) spices without the cloying sweetness. Almonds, chevre, and dried cranberries add to the autumnal feeling. Other small plates include battered and fried calamari with black walnut crumble, a “Greek-ish” cucumber salad, and a fancy omelette developed just before The Bear version, with sour cream & onion spread, truffle, caviar, and potato chips. For the mains, the dishes have a stick-to-your-ribs heartiness, BBQ spare ribs, kimchi spatzle with braised beef and parmesan. The eggplant katsu takes long strips of eggplant and presses them together to create a meaty center for the battered and fried exterior, the creamy orange curry is offset with rice and pickled onions. Nevin Martell in the City Paper writes it, “steals the show. With a crunchy crust and satisfying chew, the mock cutlet is an admirable stand-in for the usual pork. The bowl is filled out with rice, a rainbow of pickles, fresh herbs, and curry sauce inspired by Vermont Curry, a brand popular with home cooks in Japan known for its sweet edge courtesy of apples and honey.” Like many of the dishes there was something recognizably homey and a “can’t put your finger on it” element adding depth.
With the long bar comes a long list of creative cocktails. Many of them can be made NA on request. The wine list is not long. Like the food, it mixes the familiar with the funky (Provencal rose or a white País- Cariñena; South African Shiraz or Herzegovinan Vranac). Beers, including hipster tall boys round out the drink list.
With so many places in the Navy Yard created as draws for those beyond the neighborhood, or to feed off the stadium crowds, Any Day Now stands out as a place where locals can gather over coffee in the morning or a drink at night. It is a bit of a walk from most of the places that are south of M Street, but worth the effort. Memories of the squash or katsu might also inspire a drive across town for those who do not live nearby.
Other Guidance: The restaurant is located on the ground floor of a modern apartment building at street level, Post Accessibility rating: No barriers to entry; ADA-compliant restrooms. Both GF and vegetarians can do well, though dairy works its way into many dishes.
Washington Post: Tom approves.
Washingtonian: Breakfast preview.
Washington City Paper: Martell’s take.
Black Girls Explore DC: Cornelia Poku’s preview video here.