922 Blagden Alley
Washington, DC 20001
Toward the end of my time in DC in July I spent a couple dinners at the relatively new Tiger Fork. Tiger Fork is one of two recently opened restaurants in DC that specialize in the food, especially the street food, of Hong Kong (the other being Queen’s English in the Columbia Heights/Pleasant Plains neighborhood). As a son of immigrants from Hong Kong and a person raised on the food of Hong Kong, I was intrigued that DC’s first foray into the specific food of my parents’ birthplace, especially as it wasn’t through a more proletarian Hong Kong style cafe/cha chaan teng.
Tiger Fork can be hard to find in Blagden Alley, just blocks from the Mt. Vernon Place-Convention Center Metro Station, but once you see the neon sign of the restaurant’s Chinese name and the large Chinese style wooden door, you know you have arrived. There can be a wait, given that it is a popular restaurant, but both times (on weekday nights) I have managed to get a seat within 20-30 minutes.
After sitting down I browsed the fairly pared down menu on one page the sides of a paper placemat. Through my two times there, I ordered the following:
- Hong Kong Milk Tea – A bit pricey at $5, but it is absolutely fantastic with a perfect balance between the strong, slightly bitter tea blend and sweet creamy notes of the condensed milk. I could easily chug a couple of these in one sitting but that can add up real quick. This is probably one of only a few areas in the entire DMV region that has a proper Hong Kong milk tea.
- Chili Wontons – Despite being a Cantonese restaurant and not a Sichuanese one, these wontons were pretty good with just enough heat from the oil pairing perfectly with the chicken and shrimp wontons.
- Ong Choy – These are one of my favorite vegetables to eat. Unfortunately, I didn’t like the Tiger Fork preparation of this dish. While I love the flavor of fermented bean curd, the version I had used too much vinegar and ended up being a bit of a slightly too sour mess. (Queen’s English version is a bit closer to what I remember loving as a kid)
- Garlic Scapes – In comparison, my friend and I loved the Garlic Scapes. The chives and scapes were stir fried perfectly with a bit of crunch and herbal nuttiness that was sublime. We consumed this dish very rapidly.
- Beef Chow Fun – This is one of the restaurant’s signature dishes, but unfortunately it missed the mark for me. First of all, I’ll say that the beef brisket they use is phenomenal. It’s well seasoned and cooked to mouth watering perfectly. Unfortunately, the noodles are a little soft and gummy. The dish should have “wok hei”, stir fried with just a touch of crispy char to give a play of textural and heat crunchiness with the tenderness of the ingredients. This dish had none of that wok hei which was disappointing.
- Char Siu Plate – The BBQ Pork, on the other hand, was delicious with the fattiness of the pork balancing perfectly with the sugary glaze. The rice and ginger scallion sauce was great to help soak up the flavor of the pork too.
- Egg Tart – At the end of one of my meals there I had an egg tart and this was the best egg tart I had since my last visit to Hong Kong earlier this year. The shortbread crust was buttery and slightly flakey with a custard filling that had that signature touch of sweetness.
All in all, Tiger Fork is an excellent example of Hong Kong food in DC. While it has a couple misses, there are many outstanding items to capably represent the food and culture of my parents’ birthplace. I am excited to try even more dishes on my next trip to DC.