Photos by Maria Bryk
After a year and a half experimenting with a French-Asian menu and name, owners Aulie Bunyarataphan and Mel Oursinsiri have decided to transform Mama Rouge back into their original restaurant, Bangkok Joe’s. Starting Thursday, the refreshed space will reopen for lunch and dinner seven days a week. Here’s what else you’ll find at this reincarnation that blends old with new:
The Food: Chef Aulie Bunyarataphan has expanded the dumpling bar to offer 20 items paired with housemade sauces, including the new larb duck dumpling and spinach and cheese wontons. There will also be a new emphasis on incorporating more traditional Thai ingredients as a nod to Washington’s current obsession. Newcomer dishes also include a tom yum-style hot pot for two, naam sour pork with crispy rice (pictured above) and Thai fried chicken, plus an intriguing-sounding dessert: Thai chile crème brûlée with cilantro candy. To appease longtime customers, she’s bringing back pad Thai, chicken basil kapow and the fried rice menu. Entrees range from black rice risotto with scallops to Chiang Mai yellow curry with brisket.
The Space: Georgetown-based Collective Architecture presided over the recent refresh, adding a stand-alone dumpling bar at the front of the restaurant where Bunyarataphan and her staff will make and serve the snacks. Other changes include a red and gold color palette, new upholstery and carpeting, fresh plateware and a ceiling inspired by a Thai temple reportedly built by the chef’s family centuries ago.
The Drinks: Beverage director Brad MacBeth has worked under PX‘s Todd Thrasher at Cafe Atlantico for a few years and later at Zaytinya. He’s tasked with infusing Thai herbs and ingredients into the cocktail menu, such as Thai chile, Thai basil, ginger, lemongrass and hard-to-source ingredients like blue hibiscus. One such drink is Dreaming of Phuket (pictured above), a blend of rum, blue hibiscus syrup, passion fruit, lime and saltwater.
The Details: 3000 K St. NW; 202-333-4422. Open 11:30 AM–10:30 PM Sunday through Thursday and from 11:30 AM–11:30 PM Friday and Saturday.