Image: You thought we’d go with neon lettering, but no! Salt & Pepper Shrimp is reeeal good.
Last Updated: July 2022
Current Status: Open for sit-down dining inside and out, with a large bar. Take-out and delivery available. And Brunch!
Bar Chinois, as the name implies is a bar first and foremost. The music, the way the space is laid out, and the milling of people make that clear as you enter. It also serves a focused menu of Asian small plates with some dishes that are very good. Seating for dining takes the other half of the room from the bar and is also available on the outside patio. Which is to say it is not for every occasion, but it covers a lot of them: date night, group dining, grabbing a drink, local hang, drink and a snack and probably a few more.
The General Manager/Partner is Margaux Donati, who came from another favorite spot for locals, Chaplain’s in Shaw, (and plays a role with a new spot that is heading that way, Sticx & Stonz). The original menu was conceived by the talented Tim Ma, who operated Lucky Danger out of this space as an early Covid pop-up. Ma remains a consulting chef, but two chefs, from also beloved DC Noodles, hold down the fort. Come for happy hour and binge on the dumplings. The fish dishes stood out on our on visit: the salt and pepper shrimp and the chili-garlic fried fish (that thankfully comes with rice that is missing from other dishes). Other dishes were less successful, like the dry pork belly buns with an odd drop of yellow mustard on top.
As expected, the bar team is talented here, and the drinks are solid. The service was impressive, with the kitchen sending out dishes like clockwork and the floor staff rolling over tables with incredible precision. We suggest its worth trying out if you are nearby.
Neighborhood: Chinatown/City Center
Address: 455 I St NW, Washington, DC 20001
Washington Post: No review, mentioned in a real estate story about Mt. Vernon Triangle.
Washingtonian: Listed in a roundup of new cocktail bars.
Michelin: Listed, not rated.