Chefs Tim Ma and Andrew Chiou want you to play with your food. The offspring of Taiwanese immigrants, Ma and Chiou operate Lucky Danger, an American-Chinese pop-up in Mount Vernon Triangle. Located at 455 I St. NW, Lucky Danger provides carryout and delivery only, but the chefs plan to open a bricks-and-mortar restaurant across the river in Virginia. They are also scouting around for a permanent Washington location.
Of the myriad dishes we sampled, a star was the cashew chicken – large chunks of white meat crisply caramelized. Nicely garnished whole branzino traveled amazingly well, moist and flaky with a mild flavor. But we had to watch out for bones. Other winners were salt-and-pepper shrimp and sauteed green beans. The only clunker was the duck fried rice, which was skimpy on the duck. You’ll also find such Chinese-American standbys as hot-and-sour soup, Kung Pao chicken, crab Rangoon. An offbeat offering is pig ear salad. Next time. You can also order cocktails and other drinks.
Ma and Chiou make carryout dining fun. “Lucky Danger” is a mascot they created themselves, and a sheet of stickers depicting other whimsical characters arrives with each neatly packed meal. Instead of tiresome plastic containers, food arrives in labeled, compostable cartons. Plus chopsticks, naturally. Our dinner for three came to $87, including tax, tip and excellent delivery by DoorDash. In fact, our dinners arrived early. For more information or to order a meal, visit www.luckydanger.com.
Also new to Mount Vernon Triangle is Truluck’s Washington DC, the first District offshoot of a high-end Houston-based national group. You’ll find it at 700 K St. NW. Truluck’s is a special-occasion destination; some entree prices hover in the $30s and higher.
Emerging from executive chef Laurence Cohen’s kitchen: Mediterranean branzino anointed with olive oil, lemon, olives and taramasalata (Greek fish roe dip); pan-seared New England scallops with golden beet pesto; salt and pepper calamari; jumbo lump crab cakes. For landlubbers, there’s broiled prime New York strip and other top beef cuts. Sides include lobster mashed potatoes, creamed spinach and asparagus. Plus amazing beer, wine and cocktail lists.
Truluck’s classic decor features red leather, horseshoe-shaped leather booths, glittering chandeliers and floor-to-ceiling views of downtown Washington. Truluck’s is open daily for dining-in and curbside. For exact hours and reservations visit www.trulucks.com or Open Table.
Coming soon to Logan Circle: St. James, a lively restaurant honoring the culture and cuisine of Trinidad. Created by award-winning chef Peter Prime and his sister Jeanine Prime, St. James will arrive later this summer at 2017 14t h St. NW. Emerging from the kitchen will be callaloo (spicy soup made with greens, hot peppers, okra, meat and crab, all simmering in coconut milk). They’ll also cook up black pudding (blood sausage) and other island favorites “with a modern twist.” Wine, beer and cocktails (including shandies, a mixture of beer and fruit juices) will flow.
Chef Prime’s creations reflect his native Trinidad’s culinary influences stemming from indigenous peoples, Asian descendants of indentured laborers and enslaved Africans as well as European settlers. Named for a vibrant district in Port of Spain (Trinidad’s capital), the 2,800-square-foot St. James will be almost three times larger than sister restaurant Cane, which showcases traditional Caribbean street foods in the Atlas District.
Mount Vernon Triangle welcomes dLeña wood-fired cocina and mezcaleria, at 476 K St. NW. The 5,000-square-foot, high-end restaurant and tequila lounge is part of Richard Sandoval Hospitality. Headed by executive chef Carlos Camacho, the kitchen showcases mainly Oaxacan cuisine with a modern twist. Tomahawk ribeye for two is flambeed tableside in tequila and served with bone marrow butter; that will set you back $125. Wagyu steak a la piedra (stone), tagged at $48, arrives with poblano peppers, caramelized onions and house-made tortillas. Camarones a la diabla ($30) are jumbo prawns marinated in smoked chiles and presented with chipotle sauce and grilled spring onion.
No worries, more modest menu options encompass several kinds of ceviche, assorted tacos, soups, salads and grilled oysters, chicken and avocado, as well as flights of tequila, smoky mezcals. Four flavors of margaritas include tamarind and prickly pear. You’ll also find impressive beer and wine lists. There’s a children’s menu and happy hour.
Chef Carlos Camacho’s impressive resume includes stints at sister restaurants El Centro D.F and Toro Toro, and at Great American Restaurants. dLeña is open nightly; for more information or reservations visit www.dlenadc.com.
Jonathan Returns – by Demand
Local chef/cookbook writer/storyteller Jonathan Bardzik, known for his lively cooking demos at Eastern Market, is back. The personable Bardzik’s eight-episode cooking series, “Jonathan’s Kitchen: Seasons to Taste,” is now streaming on global LGBTQ+ streaming network Revry.
Bardzik has written three cookbooks including “Seasons to Taste: Farm-Fresh Joy for Kitchen and Table,” the inspiration for the series. For his show, Bardzik shares seasonal recipes and the people they bring together. Guests include his parents, husband Jason and other culinary experts.
Bardzik opens each episode by sharing. “I believe life can and should be lived with joy … preparing a simple meal, setting a table and sharing it with the people I love. And I want to share it with you.” Self-taught, he got his professional start 10 years ago with his Eastern Market demos. He and Jason live on the Hill.
New on U
Who is Rosita and what is her secret? Chi-Cha Lounge, Mauricio Fraga-Rosenfeld’s hookah bar at 1624 U St. NW, has morphed into a Peruvian restaurant: El Secreto de Rosita (Rosita’s Secret). Heading the kitchen is Lima-born executive chef Eugene Perret, who is creating South American and Asian dishes including ceviche, teriyaki wings, goyza, gambas al ajillo (shrimp), fried calamari. Call 202-234-8400 or visit www.chichaloungedc.com.
La Cosecha, the Latino marketplace at 1240 Fourth St. NE, welcomes Jarebe (Spanish for syrup). The sprightly newcomer dispenses paletas, Mexican-style popsicles and other Latino sweets. You can find the treats Thursday-Sunday from 11:30 a.m.