Chaplin’s is a modern, Modern Ramen Restaurant in DC and a cocktail bar that serves some of the most exquisite drinks. The charm of this place is not lost on those who come. The decor is quaint and old worldsy with ornate pillars and gilded mirrors. The color scheme is dark with grey walls and a painted bar done in midnight. The music is loungy and not so loud you can’t hear the person next to you. It is friendly, homey and comfy which is perfect for a corner restaurant in a residential area that’s quickly becoming the next hot-spot in DC.
I started with the drink special – a pineapple mojito. It was wonderful, full of large chunks of fresh cut pineapple and just enough garden fresh diced mint blended with the rum and lime juice.
The wakame salad with chikuwa is a fish patty, seaweed, cucumber and tomato. The fish was sliced like slivers of octopus and reminded me very much of its consistency on the tongue. It was spicy with a medium heat that lingered pleasantly on the back of the mouth. Served in a sesame and vinegar sauce that was piquant and aid the heat of the peppers in delivery. The cucumber slices and tomatoes were firm and fresh. I really enjoyed this light appetizer. The seaweed was fresh also, not reconstituted dried seaweed and was the best mix to bring the whole dish together.
The adult dumpling shooter was definitely one of a kind. The whiskey a-go-go consisted of a pork dumpling suspended over a shot glass of an japanese whiskey and lemon emulsion. there are two ways to enjoy this drink. First is to dip the dumpling in the whiskey, eat it and then drink the shot, or vice versa, the shot first and then eat the dumpling. I tried option one and was delighted at the experience. I have never had a drunken dumpling before. It worked, it really did and the emulsion of lemon and Japanese whiskey ultra smooth and reminded me of a good sake as the finish was strong but clean.
The fried wonton, always a fave of mine did not disapoint. The spicy red chili sauce drizzled over the wontons was delicious. The crispy and buttery texture of the mixture of crust and filling was delightful. The filling, a combination of cream cheese, onion and crab salad was sweet and savory together. As it should be. Nice and fluid on the inside and in perfect contrast crunchy on the outside. It was another hit for me. The spice again clung to you after the bite was done. It wasn’t too hot, it just reminded you of the good bite you just had.
The Chaplin A.S.S., or Asian spicy sour, warmed me up completely. Both the temperature and the ample spicy heat made me start to sweat. It is a ramen dish with chicken, scallion, lemongrass, coconut milk, red chili and cilantro. This was wonderful. The combination of lemongrass, cilantro, coconut milk and spice is divine. If you have never tried a similar Asian soup dish you truly are missing out. The scallion was chopped in big chunks, the lemongrass was fresh with a slight crisp, not dried and there were damn near whole little chili’s in there also. It culminated in I think my favorite noodle dish of all time. The chicken breast was sliced thin but remained juicy and fall apart tender despite being a little less than fresh.
What really makes this place unique though is the working popcorn maker in the entrance area. The smell of popcorn in the air is always a pleasant and appetizing aroma. This place definitely has the speakeasy feel to it, but with an Asian menu. The combination is wonderful. I felt at such peace when visiting here.
We had a fabulous time — blown away by the Amazing Food, Warm Hospitality and eclectic decor — we will definitely be back.