to La La Land
Two brothers make Meiwah -Wonderful.
most metropolitan areas, Washington D.C. is checkered
with Chinese restaurants, so many infant, that they
almost become cliché. These numbers make it difficult
to use words like "finest" and "exclusive"
in the same sentence as hot and sour soup and shrimp
with black bean sauce. Yet, Meiwah, New Hampshire Avenue's
recent addition, finds itself on the brink of distinction
with the simplest of formulas. They offer sumptuous
dishes, good service and affordable prices -- all in
a new and comfortable setting. Not rocket science --
just the work of a real veteran.
Larry La, got his start in D.C. at City Lights on Connecticut
Avenue. Before that, he ran Boston's Hunan Gallery and
Miami's Canton. Though modest in its surroundings, City
Lights quickly became known for its good food and local
draw. After 10 years of steady business from the neighborhood,
reams of take out orders, and an occasional celebrity
(a favorite spot for Mick Jaggar), La decided it was
time to move his kitchen to a larger and more people-friendly
facility. Just a few months again, his search ended
at New Hampshire's M Street corner.
floors of windows, light and space now greet Meiwah's
customers. Its space is used wisely in contrast to other
places where elbow rubbing is considered ambiance. For
casual dinners, wooden tables flank two streets and
are positioned for outside viewing, much like many European
cafe's. Booths in the center of the establishment provide
intimacy for the businessperson or the couple who is
interested in holding hands without being on display.
The most interesting decorative feature rests at Meiwah's
nucleus, where a pair of 19th century doors servers
as a reflection of Canton. The doors are open most of
the time but can be closed to separate the center of
the restaurant for private gatherings.
Chef Ngoc La, (Larry La's brother) was also part of
the City Lights of China team. The menu, while modestly
expanded, still mirrors his most popular creations.
Highlights include; meat or vegetarian steamed dumplings,
eggplant with crushed garlic, black pepper-sliced beef
in oyster sauce and Shanghai bokchoi with black mushrooms.
The spices are snappy, exotic and easily recognized.
Maybe a bit strong for the mild mannered palate, but
they are sure to tickle that of the adventurous diner.
to La, Meiwah means, "American-Chinese." "I
was born in Vietnam, my parents were Chinese. Now I
am an American citizen," said La. When asked about
his vision for the new eatery, la replied, "CBS
is right across the street and FCC on the other side.
We keep long hours, so the late working people will
have a place to go if they need take out or a quiet
table to relax. Already, we are their best friends.
The place really comes alive on a Friday or Saturday
night. But this part of town also has a huge international
representation and it is my goal to feed them all with
food they'll never forget."
only will it be hard to forget a Meiwah meal, but La
himself is a bit of a character, floating from table
to table to check on everyone's "enjoyment factor."
He often suggests dishes and the appropriate drink to
accompany them. He is polished, personable and eager
to please. Meiwah is open 7 days a week for lunch and
dinner. There are also rooms for private parties or