The Source is Wolfgang Puck’s pan-Asian restaurant in the Newseum in Washington, D.C. The executive chef, Scott Drewno, has won several D.C. dining awards, so I had high-hopes for this place. The stylish three-level restaurant seats 250 people, with a small kitchen and dining/bar area for casual dining on the ground floor, a full kitchen and formal dining room on the second floor and a private dining room for 40 guests on the lower level. The casual dining area features small plates and is billed as having a Japanese style Izakaya menu, although it didn’t resemble the Izakaya menus I am familiar with in NYC (e.g. Yakitori Taisho or Sun-Chan), it was more like pan-Asian apps. During happy hour they have a three dishes for 20 bucks special.
The Dumplings: The “Izakaya menu” features Crystal Garlic Chive Dumplings with black Bean Glaze, Sichuan Chicken Dumplings with Crushed Peanut Chili “Dan Dan”, Wok Fired Shrimp Dumplings with Spicy XO Sauce, Rose Veal Dumplings with Fermented Chili Bean Sauce. I tried the Crystal Garlic Chive Dumplings, which were sort of weak, even though it was fried the crystal dumpling wrapper had an unattractive gummy mouth feel. The filling was unmemorable.
Since it was Happy Hour we did the 20 buck special and also got the Pork Belly Bao Buns with Kochujan Aioli and House Made Hoisin and some unremarkable sushi roll. The Bao Buns were also disappointing – the bun was heavier and denser than I have come to expect after eating these in NYC’s China Towns. I guess the mixing of Kochujan and Hoisin sauces made this “pan-asian fusion”, but the sauce was kind of goopy and had a cloyingly sweet flavor that overpowered the Pork Belly.
The Sauce: The dumpling dipping sauce was better than the dumplings, probably the best thing we had at The Source. It was initially sweet but then had a lingering spicy heat. My dinner companions and I are guessing it was made of soy, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, yuso and chili.
Location: The Source is located at the Newseum, one of the few museums in D.C. you have to pay to enter, which is on the corner of Pennsylvania Ave and 6th Street NW.