Here’s the dish! Now that I’m not babysitting like I have in previous years, happy hour comes in a close second to my favorite (liquid) meal of the week, right after brunch. After seeing some of my American University classmates at our CBC event earlier this month, we decided to reconvene for happy hour the next day. A friend in the group recommended Chaplin’s Restaurant & Bar in Shaw (located at 1501 9th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001), so I was excited to try something new.
After texting us the deets, I went straight to Google to check out what Chaplin’s had to offer. I was surprised to learn that Chaplin’s was a Japanese Ramen house! Boasting a 1920s theme, where servers and bartenders are adorned in black and white attire with suspenders as an ode to Charlie Chaplin, Chaplin’s immediately drew me in. Because I arrived a bit earlier than my friends, I took a seat at the bar where I met Margeaux (pronounced like Margo), my mixologist for the evening. After perusing the slightly overwhelming (in a good way) drink menu without any idea of what I’d like to order, I asked Margeaux for a recommendation. After assessing my likes and dislikes, she suggested The Cure ($12, but only $6 during happy hour), which she noted was also her favorite drink.
Her recommendation did not disappoint. A concoction of Elyx vodka, amaro, charred citrus, strawberry, sassafras, smoking rosemary (y’all she pulled out a blow torch!), The Cure was just the type of drink I love. It was sweet with flavors still interesting enough to excite someone who doesn’t normally order a sweet drink. And let’s be real, any drink that requires a blow torch is a drink worth trying. The aroma of the charred rosemary was delightfully intoxicating. Because I don’t drink a lot, I knew I’d go for a beer for my second drink. Again, Margeaux came through with a great recommendation of the Stiegl Grapefruit Ale ($7). I love grapefruit flavored beverages, and this beer was delicious! The tartness of the grapefruit and effervescence of the beer itself was very refreshing. Because it was on draft, it was also half off during happy hour. In addition to to their Drafty Spirits and beer on draft, Chaplin’s offers half off select bottles and cans during happy hour.
As my friends began to arrive, we were seated in a cozy window table with banquet seating, where our server Marilyn would take care of us for the evening. We immediately began ordering more drinks and appetizers. I passed along Margeaux’s recommendation for The Cure, and it was well-received by my friends. To start our meal, we ordered Edamame ($4); fried Beef Gyoza ($8), filled with Napa cabbage, chives, mushrooms, and garlic; and fried Chicken & Shrimp Shumai ($8), stuffed with water chestnut, garlic, onion, and oyster sauce. I highly recommend trying one of their Master Dumpling offerings, which they will steam or fry for you, because they are absolutely delicious.
After indulging ourselves in Chaplin’s delicious appetizers, we moved on to the main event—the Ramen! Our table pretty much ordered variations of two of the Ramen bowls—the Chaplin ($14), which includes pork belly Chashu, a seasoned egg, scallions, bean sprouts, black sesame paste, and Tankatsu flavor; and the Chaplin A.S.S. ($14), a spicy option featuring Asian spicy-sour chicken, scallions, lemongrass, coconut milk, red chillis, pork butt Chashu, bamboo shoots, and cilantro. Chaplin’s boasts a list of about 14 items you can add on to customize your Ramen just the way you like it. In addition to the Ramen, one friend ordered the Chicken Yakisoba ($12) as an entree, which featured pan fried Ramen noodles, napa cabbage, carrots, onions, bean sprouts, scallions, sesame oil, pickled ginger, and Yakisoba sauce. After tasting the Chaplin A.S.S., she ended up sending the Yakisoba back, but it wasn’t due to its lack of flavor; she just fancied something spicy, and the Yakisoba was more on the sweet side.
I really enjoyed everything that Chaplin’s had to offer. Their staff was friendly and very knowledgeable of the menu, and their food was amazingly delicious. They have an awesome string-lit patio that patrons can enjoy during warmer months, and I later learned from a friend who regularly visits that they show silent films in the upstairs section of the restaurant. They take their 1920s theme to another level with that! We really enjoyed our time there, and their staff seemed to enjoy us just as much as we did them. Just when we thought our night couldn’t get any better, the manager sent a round of shots to our table! That is, most certainly, how every dining experience should end!
Until next time, folks. Keep dishing!