Been putting off writing this. I don’t know why exactly, and yet I know exactly why. It was boring. And I never became invested enough to really care how this was gonna do anyhow. Basically I was in DC and looked out my window and it was right there. Literally a block away. It was just screaming for an easy blog post. Not that I do things purely based on how easy it would be but I pretty much do things based on how easy it is.
ShopHouse: Southeast Asian Kitchen is Steve Ells latest venture, and with his success with Chipotle, it seems like a good enough concept.
I love Chipotle. But if I get a burrito craving, it isn’t the first place I think about going. Between living in NY and LA, I literally see a clean burrito establishment and immediately assume it. is. shit. I prefer B/C ratings only. I don’t even think you are legally allowed to open with a C in your window, but if you could, you can trust that you are my first choice.
The trickery began early. I mean…look at it. Sriracha in the window? It’s practically trying to mousetrap me.
So there are bowls….you choose white rice, brown rice, or noodles, all of which are just sitting in a tub at the beginning of the line. Can we get some rice cooker action going here or what? The noodles are immediately unappetizing because no one should be okay with cooked noodles sitting in individual glob balls just waiting to dry out. YES I’M VERY PARTICULAR ABOUT MY NOODLES! Anyhow, pick your rice/noodle, add a protein (chicken, pork/chicken meatballs/steak/tofu) then head down the line to add the veggies / curry options.
See now…this is where I’m thrown off. I appreciate options, I really do. But I actually wanted to do a fair review of the place. So what do I do? Do I order a bowl with everything on it? Seems like a good idea, but it can also just be totally overwhelming with a place like this, where I wanna be able to taste everything in a scenario where it isn’t just…tons of shit in a bowl. Know what I’m saying? How should I go about this in the future? Because this time around, I had them put everything in the bowl, which I don’t think was a good idea.
Wishing there was a “ShopHouse Bowl” of some sort. Something that summed up the place in one bowl but yeah yeah I get it. I create my own mess, that way I can’t reallllly complain when it sucks.
And it did.
My bowl sucked.
It was just…too much. Was this my fault? Yes. I asked for everything on the damned menu — corn, cilantro, green papaya, and the hottest curry sauce they had.
I also ordered a meatball banh mi, a “vietnamese sandwich” in the LIGHTEST of terms. Seriously have no idea what made this a banh mi in any way. It’s like Ke$ha. If we are told Ke$ha is a singer, she’s a singer, whether we personally accept her or not. Cringe. This place calls this a banh mi so whatever, guess it’s a banh mi.
I chose a meatball banh mi, with some sort of faux papaya salad garnish (this was kind of a cool option, as I freaking love papaya salad) and a spicy mayo. What? You have never seen the tiny revolving dish of spicy mayo in your favorite “southeast asian” spot, right next to the fish sauce, sugar and vinegar? Yeah me neither, but it still made the sandwich pretty tasty and I can appreciate an inauthentic condiment if it is just plain delicious.
“Shut up you dumb, rambling, money-grubbing, beard, good-for-nothing, trophy-wife, soul-sucking, piece of shit. HOW DID IT TASTE?”, you are probably saying. Well geez settle down, Mr. Anger McManagement. I will tell you.
Happy now? I hope you Ms. Anger McManagements will at least appreciate this chesty photo of John eating a banh mi with his thinking cap face on.
Anyhoo. The sandwich, it was pretty good. The meatballs were pretty flavorful, but also slightly dry because ummmmm they were sitting out behind a sneeze guard for what I assume was the entire morning. But it’s not a 5 star restaurant, this is Fauxpotle we are talking about. It was tasty and I could imagine grabbing one again someday, granted there was truly nothing else around, I didn’t own a car and was banned from all forms of public transportation. God what is wrong with me why am I so mean I’m sorry please don’t leave me.
The bowl was a different story. It was…paste. But did I make this paste? I have no idea. I guess I did. Maybe that’s how ShopHouse thinks it will make all their money. Us, the consumer, going back 6 or 7 times just to see if we get the right combo of veggies, meat and rice or noodles to make it a winning dish. Then I get it.
I would honestly give Chipotle an A, for what it is. ShopHouse gets a C. And only because the meatballs were kinda yummy and didn’t taste like cat at all. (Don’t ask). I feel like we can all figure out how to make a good burrito. But honestly, I’m not sure how to make a delicious southeast asian bowl and banh mi sandwich…and I am southeast asian.
Anyhow. Try it. Because I think I literally just did it wrong. Let me know your winning combos :)
And let’s face it. This review was all over the place. 1, I’m on vacation, 2, I just missed you guys and I am trying to get back into the passion of cooking and eating after what was kind of a stressful work period.
Here’s the plus side! I am eating WELL here in Lake Como and have SO much to share. Can’t wait for you to see. Sunday is our last night here and we are gonna try and see if it is actually possible to eat so much that it is so highly packed into your esophagus that you can’t even shovel anymore food in. Will let you know.