So, Chaplin’s—the popular cocktail and ramen spot in Shaw—started serving brunch. What that means is you can now have mimosas with your ramen. We received a press release—with a person on the other end incredibly eager to get us into Chaplin’s for brunch.
“Sure, I’m traveling much of the summer but I’ll get in when I can,” I replied. Then, when I booked my flight to Chicago on a Monday, I decided to meander over and brunch with Paige, our newest member of the Bitch team in Washington.
Chaplin’s has a dark, edgy, faux-vintage buildout—it’s inspired by the film noir of the 1920s. It serves up Asian food and Prohibition-inspired and classic craft cocktails. I’m partial to anywhere that I can enjoy an Old Fashioned and a bowl of ramen on the same order—so Chaplin’s is a concept I can get behind.
I walk by the enormous patio regularly—and it’s often crowded on a weekday afternoon. Today, at noon on a Saturday, it was empty—save for Paige and me under an umbrella. I believe it was the first weekend for brunch—and summer Saturdays have been quite quiet as of late.
There was a comprehensive, impressive cocktail menu—but no mimosas. All sorts of hard liquors, mixed with impressive fresh herbs and elixirs into a variety of concoctions. How fancy! “Uhm, may I just have a regular mimosa?” I said, as I’m hardly awake at noon most Saturdays. The thought of hard liquor that early—or that often at all—is not appealing to me. The waitress was a petite, sweet Asian gal—they all wear suspenders and black pants to keep with the 1920s vibe. She was deferential—she seemed slightly frightened of us. I’m fairly certain that she didn’t know I was a Bitch Who Brunches, so it must just be because I am a Bitch. “So, may I see the brunch menu?” I asked next. “There is no menu for brunch—we just serve these cocktails right here, during the day,” she replied, pointing to the section without any cocktails typically served at brunch. Gotcha. OK, we’ll mull it over.
The mimosas arrived served in coupes with mini champagne bottles—you may choose from about a dozen types of bubbly for your mimosa. That, I love. We ordered a standard French brut. The cocktails were delightful—they should consider putting them on the menu.
Next up, we opted for some traditional Asian appetizers: the pork gyoza, the chicken and shrimp shumai, and the teriyaki chicken. The gyoza and the shumai were great. The shumai were little puffs made with chicken, shrimp, water chesnut, garlic and onion—served with the traditional oyster sauce. The gyoza were also well done, smooth light dumplings, pan-fried and crispy in the right spots. I love a great dumpling.
Paige and I both wanted Chaplin’s A.S.S. ramen— a red, spicy and sweet coconut milk broth. The ramen was filled with noodles, chicken, scallion, lemongrass, coconut milk, red chilli, pork butt chashu, bamboo shoot, scallion, and cilantro. All the goodness you’d want in a bowl of ramen— and it hit the spot.
A word to the gluten-free: Chaplin’s standard noodles are wheat—not rice noodles—as you might expect from an Asian spot. You can order rice noodles, but you must be explicit in your inquiry. Personally, I prefer rice and I think they taste better—I opted for rice noodles, Paige had wheat noodles.
We lingered with our mimosas under the patio on a hot, summer day—all in all, it was a great way to spend a Saturday, together with Japanese food and bubbly mimosas.
The Bitches say: B+. Chaplin’s is a really cool spot—definitely great for cocktails or dinner. Moreover, we like the idea of having mimosas with Asian food at any hour of the day. But, we’d love for them to try their hand at some real Asian brunch dishes, add a bottomless option, and watch that patio fill up with Shaw’s yuppies.
1501 9th St. N.W.
Chaplin’s opens for brunch (with its regular menu) on Saturdays and Sundays.