Little Serow

1511 17th Street NW
Washington DC 20036

Hours
Tuesday-Thursday: 5:30-10:00 PM
Friday-Saturday: 5:30-10:30 PM
Sunday-Monday: Closed

I’m going to say this right off the bat: Little Serow is my favorite meal experience in Washington, D.C. up to this point.  More than living up to the hype, Johnny Monis, the head chef of the famous Komi restaurant (which is regarded by many as the best restaurant in D.C.) has created a cheaper, Asian restaurant right next door.  For $45, you get a pre-fixed menu consisting of mainly Thai flavored cuisine.  And you’ll be hard pressed to find a better $45 meal anywhere else in the city.

In order to find the restaurant you’ll want to find and face Komi first; Little Serow’s door is the unmarked basement door to the lower left.  Keep this in mind: there will most likely be a very long wait.  They don’t take reservations, so you have to put your name on the list with the hostess.  In most cases, there will be a line JUST to put your name on what usually is a 2-hour wait list.  From what we heard, on the weekends that line can even be as long as 20 minutes.  It is a ridiculously long wait time to be sure, but it’s worth it.  Just plan accordingly, and plan on having a drink at one of the nearby bars while you wait.  They will text you when your table is ready, so you can go as far away as you want.

The restaurant itself has very limited seating; there’s only about five tables that seat 4, three tables that seat 2, and one communal large table that seats about 12.  The atmosphere is like being in a minimalist kitchen with dim intimate lighting.  The music is not too loud and all the waitresses are dressed like mothers or Laura Ingalls’ look alikes.  And they were great; perfectly attentive without being too intrusive.

I would typically give a review of each individual food item, but because the menu routinely changes up, there’s no real guarantee that what I’ve tried will be on the menu for you.  The menu apparently changes up on a weekly basis.  After doing a little research though, it does appear that there are a few staples that are on often regularly on the menu, including the pork ribs on ours.

So even though there’s no point giving individual critiques, as a whole the food was DELICIOUS.  There were so many flavors that felt totally new, yet familiar at the same time.  The food was very, very spicy too – I cannot stress this enough.  The side of vegetables and sticky rice will be your best friend throughout the meal.  Our dinner ended up being 7 plates with a small dessert.  The standouts on our menu were the mushrooms, which were a unique flavoring of sweet as you first eat it and then spicy as you finish it, and the pork ribs.

To sum it up – try this place.  It’s not going to kill your wallet at $45 and you’re guaranteed to experience flavors that you’ve never tasted before.  I plan on going back to try some different plates and it only takes a quick look at its critics, Yelp, and TripAdvisor reviews to see a communal appreciation for the place even though several different meals were sampled.  For me personally, if Little Serow was this good, I’m more than curious to know what his even more prestigious Komi restaurant is like.  It looks like I’ve got something new to save up for.   Grade: A

UPDATE: I emailed the restaurant to get a better idea of how much the menu changes.  They responded very, very quickly and told me that one item usually changes a week.  So if you want to make sure you go back and have a totally different menu, I’d give it a couple months in between visits.

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