I’m not quite ready to denounce meat, but the vegetarian wok-charred carrots at the Source has me seriously considering it. The dish, available as part of the restaurant’s dim-sum brunch on Saturdays, is made with carrots tossed in olive oil, salt and pepper and grilled on a Japanese Binchotan grill. “We use Japanese oak charcoal, which gives it a more subtle smoke flavor” than other methods, chef Russell Smith says.
The tender veggies are topped with two sauces: a honey tamarind vinaigrette and a toasted nut sauce. The first is made with the restaurant’s signature 10-spice blend — a riff on the traditional Chinese five-spice version — and includes star anise, cloves, fennel seed and Szechuan peppercorn. The nut sauce has a blend of toasted walnuts, cashews, peanuts, pine nuts and sesame seeds seasoned with chili oil and fermented bean paste.
When combined into a single bite, these elements create a spicy, sweet, tangy, umami-rich explosion of flavor that confuses and delights all at once. “I think the best Chinese dishes are all really balanced, and we just try and use that same formula but show it in a new way,” Smith says.
For those who can’t make it to brunch, a version of the same dish is also served for supper. The carrots serve as the base for shrimp dumplings wrapped in carrot-laced dough. I can only imagine how much better the dish can get with a little protein.
The Source, 575 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, 202-637-6100. $9.
$68 for a fast-casual dinner in D.C.? Expect to see more of this.
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