There’s been quite a bit of hype about Kyirisan, the newest outpost from Tim Ma and his wife Joey, the team behind Water & Wall in Arlington. Always a sucker for an interesting fusion concept, I was excited to try the French and Chinese cuisine at this new spot in Shaw. I gathered my gaggle of gals and off we went to see what the fuss is all about.
Kyirisan has an expensive cocktail program, with quite a few options: mimosas, bellinis, Bloody Marys, Bloody Marias, adult mimosas (mimosa + vodka!), and spiked coffees. There’s an “Ode to Hemingway” cocktail with absinthe, lime, simple syrup and bubbly, as well as “The Dude Abides,” with vodka, concerto, and coconut milk. While there is no bottomless option, you can order a bottle of bubbly and pick grapefruit, pineapple, orange or lychee juice for $25. Meanwhile, mimosas are $5 a pop. We went with classic mimosas, as we do.
Things got tense when we had to decide between the house-made pastries available at brunch. Ashley wanted the Mollie’s Pocket, whereas I explained that doughnut holes are a Bitch-mandated order. As I acquiesced on a few vegetarian options for the main order and also happen to be the Bitch, Ashley let me win on the doughnut holes but was none too pleased about it. Our waiter noticed the tension—and the camera—and sent out every pastry on the menu. (Thanks for saving our friendship!)
The pastries included a classic croissant and a classic cinnamon roll. The cinnamon roll was incredible: super moist, served warm, and covered in cream cheese frosting, which is pretty much everything you could ever want in a pastry. The croissant was baked perfectly.
The pastry chef gets quite creative from here on, even with the doughnut holes! The balls of dough are available in red miso, Yuzu Matcha, and cinnamon sugar cherry jam. The cinnamon sugar doughnut hole filled with cherry jam was a familiar bite I really enjoyed. That said, I’ve also jumped on the Matcha craze/basic Bitch bandwagon, so I really enjoyed the Yuzu Matcha variety.
Ashley got her pocket, which is actually a turnover, stuffed with cream cheese, dark chocolate, and coconut caramel. She was in pure bliss. But alas, it couldn’t cure her hangover, as not even a miracle could do that.
Last but not least was the vanilla custard bao bun—as this is an Asian restaurant. I’m not terribly fond of desserts at Asian restaurants as I prefer the classic French pastries and American cakes to which I am familiar. The bao bun was a valiant effort—and made better by the vanilla custard filling and the caramelized sugar topping.
The burrata was by far the most unique of all the inventive fare available at Kyirisan. The fresh dollop of burrata cheese was served atop a delicate herb salad, with smoked roasted tomatoes and a small dollop of black sesame ice cream. The burrata was sprinkled with salt and pepper and rimmed with crostini. We slathered the burrata, herbs and black sesame ice cream onto the crostini for a creative, flavorful take on the classic burrata caprese dish.
The omelet was a clean, well-executed omelet, which I always find to be a bit boring. But with the carb heavy fare at Kyirisan, I was grateful for something a bit substantial so as to not fill up on carbs, cheese, and alcohol, as a Bitch is wont to do. The omelet was made with ginger and scallions and served with house-made kimchi. It was perfect for sharing and is a light, healthy option, should that be your life choice.
While beautifully presented and executed, the tomato cassoulet was my least favorite dish on the table, as it was filled with beans and I don’t really care for beans. It was a crowd pleaser for everyone else—and vegetarian friendly, for our token vegetarian, Ashley. The cranberry beans and tomato sauce were baked and topped with two beautiful fried eggs. The dish was hearty and great for sharing, as well as pleasing to the palate. But it wasn’t jaw-droppingly good or memorable like other plates on the table!
Beyond the incredible pastries, the highlights of the meal were the fried chicken sandwich, the arctic char gravlax, and the blueberry pancakes. Those should be the three items you absolutely must order when you arrive at brunch at Kyirisan (and you absolutely should brunch at Kyirisan).
Much like finding a match on Bumble, we could tell we were into the Panko Fried Chicken sandwich by the description alone. But, much like a good first date, we could tell we were in lust immediately after setting eyes upon him. The fried chicken sandwich was moist and crispy, served atop a bed of shredded lettuce and pickles, topped wit melted white cheddar, and on a moist, fluffy brioche bun. This is one of the ingredients of an epic brunch: a delicious breakfast sandwich that includes white bread and something fried. Cara and I cut it in half and polished it off together—and that’s what we call team work!
I love Arctic Char, so I knew we had to order the Arctic Char Gravlax, which is a style of curing raw fish in salt, vinegar, and dill. This was essentially a rendition of lox on a bagel, but instead it was Artic Char on a house-made croissant. The slices of thick, fresh cured raw fish were topped with capers, pickled red onion, creme fraiche and a perfectly poached egg. The croissant—made by the same pastry chef responsible for the brunch goodies—was utter heaven. This is a dish you can enjoy over and over—and I intend to do so!
Last but not least, the pancakes. Oh boy, these pancakes. These dense, moist pancakes were thin and crispy, which is how I prefer pancakes rather than thick and fluffy. There were loaded with blueberries, and topped with a slide of Yuzu curd butter, which added a great citrus flavor that still went well with the Maple syrup. By the time we turned to the pancakes, we were already oh-so-full but we couldn’t resist a few bites.
All in all, Kyirisan provided a blissful day of brunch. We sat outside, enjoying the 80 degree temperatures with a pup at our feet and enjoyed several rounds of mimosas. The service was charming and friendly. And, most importantly, the food was unique, memorable—crafted from fresh, quality ingredients, and executed beautifully. If you enjoy creative dining, you’ll enjoy Kyirisan.
The Bitches say: A, for a delicious brunch with a creative menu that sure to surprise and delight every palate.
1924 8th St. N.W.
Kyirisan serves brunch Saturdays and Sundays from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.