Bon Vivant: (n) a person having cultivated, refined, and sociable tastes especially with respect to food and drink.


Pairing wine with Asian Cuisine

Posted in: Restaurant Reviews, Wine Pairing

 Little Serow: Worth the hype!

image courtesy of Katherine Frey, Washington Post

image courtesy of Katherine Frey, Washington Post

Little Serow has become something of a right of passage for DC foodies.  The no reservations policy means diners line up down the block for the privilege of eating at the family style restaurant specializing in Northeastern Thai cuisine.  Last week we were lucky to land the last seat in the house.

After our wait outside, we were ready for something cool and refreshing, and promptly ordered the Punkt sparkling Grüner Vetliner. Crisp and acidic, the bubbly hit the spot.

Asian cuisine is notoriously difficult when it comes wine pairing.  The umami flavors and spice notes prompt many diners to stick to beer.  However, I was pleasantly surprised to find an interesting and appropriate wine list, spearheaded by beverage director Bill Jensen.

When pairing wine with Asian food, I like to stick with a high acid, fruit forward, slightly sweeter wine.  Off dry and aromatic varietals such as Chenin Blanc, Gewurztraminer and Riesling are good picks to stand up to the spicy and strong flavor profiles.

The waitress’ suggestion of the Diel Riesling was spot on and paired perfectly with the food.  The bouquet exhibited notes of wet slate and minerality. The palette was an explosion of stone fruit, balanced by exceptional acid and just the right level of residual sugar balancing out the heat of the dishes. It was the best of what good Riesling- and a proper pairing- can offer.

I would’ve been content to order a second bottle of the Diel, but wanting to explore more of the wine list, we went with the heavier Grasparossa di Castlevelio Lambrusco.  This slightly sweet effervescent red from Italy stood up well to the strong flavors of the meal.  The finish was overwhelmingly malty- a distinct nod to a dark Belgian ale.

Little Serow isn’t for picky eaters.  There is a set menu each week, and a no substitution policy. The staff is easy-going, and extremely knowledgeable about both the food and beverage programs- a plus for a cuisine that features items many are unfamiliar with.

All four diners had a different favorite from the barrage of dishes, but not one plate left the table unfinished. The naem khao tod and the bowl of pork rinds on the table took me right back to a recent trip to Chiang Mai, Thailand in the tastiest of ways!

Our table’s only quip with the food or service was the slightly rushed pacing of the menu- perhaps a necessary evil of the strict 2 seating policy, but our experience certainly lived up to the hype!

This is the menu from last week:

nam prik narohk

salted fish / tamarind / khi nu chilies


som tum khao pod
corn / snake bean / bla rah


ma hor
sour fruit / dried shrimp / palm sugar


                               gai laap chiang mai                                   
chicken liver / sawtooth / long pepper


naem khao tod
crispy rice / sour pork / peanuts


het grapao
mushrooms / holy basil / egg


si krong muu
pork ribs / mekhong whiskey / dill



Do you ever pair wine with Asian food?  Have you braved the lines and eaten at Little Serow?


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