“I’ve been to a lot of Chinese restaurants, and there is a huge difference between the Chinese food here and the food in mainland China,” said Robin Li, executive chef of Secret Chopsticks, which opened yesterday in Rosslyn, Va. “In China the food is evolving all the time. Many dishes [in the U.S.] are out of date.”
Li knows Chinese cooking well. The Chinese native worked at restaurants throughout Qingdao, Beijing and Nanjing before immigrating in 2000 to the United States. Here, he joined the U.S. Navy, serving as a culinary specialist. After leaving service in 2005, Li trained at The Culinary Institute of America and briefly returned to China to open his first restaurant.
Now back in the U.S. to oversee Secret Choptsticks, Li’s focus is “to bring food that the Chinese people are eating now, and try to create a new concept that changes people’s perception of Chinese food in the U.S.” As such, the new restaurant serves authentic, healthy Chinese fare, presented in a contemporary way incorporating fresh, locally sourced ingredients whenever possible.
Guests of the 120-seat restaurant have the option of a la carte dining or one of four different nine-course, prix fixe tasting menus, which offer vegetarian, tofu, dim sum, or protein options — though these will change monthly.
In addition to the dining, Secret Chopsticks has a craft cocktail and beer program, with the restaurant’s team of sommeliers also developing an extensive wine selection. Guests will have to option to order individual drinks or special pairs designed for each of the tasting menus.
Secret Chopsticks is located at 1850 Fort Myer Drive, Arlington, Va. Call (703) 812-8888. For New Year’s Eve, Secret Chopsticks is hosting a 13-course tasting menu with drink pairs, party favors and Champagne toast for $250 per person.
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