Photos by Clarissa Villondo, Words by Kaylee Dugan
Chez Billy may be long gone, but Petworth seems to have gained something even better. Ten Tigers Parlour is a combination bar, restaurant, tea house, and event space that plans to cater to the many whims of the neighborhood. Named after the Chinese martial artists, the Ten Tigers of Canton, the space is warm and cozy, with two long bars, lots of lounge seating, and some insanely flattering lighting.
Gone are the tall ceilings and large chandeliers of Chez Billy, instead Eric & Ian Hilton’s design team has opted for smaller spaces, with warm color palettes and exposed walls. In the not so traditional dining room (more on that in a second), designer Joe Reza has transformed the walls into beautiful, crumbling foundation that’s dotted with faux ancient Chinese paintings, making it seem as if they pulled off the drywall and discovered a wealth of art. Not to mention, they’ve clearly put a lot of thought into the varying textures. There’s exposed brick, velvet couches, intricately carved wooden benches, and a smooth tiled floor.
During the day, they plan to operate the downstairs like a tea house, with wifi, boba tea, Thai iced teas, french press coffee, and eventually, pastries. At night they’ll go full lounge. There’s no host stand, but servers will be on hand to take your order. Thursday – Sunday, the upstairs bar will be open, which includes an event space manager Scott Herman wants to lend out to the community. With a DJ booth already installed, Herman is interested in having yoga classes, kid friendly activities, and whatever else the community would be interested in.
Ten Tigers is also one of the few places in D.C. that serves xiao long bao, or soup dumplings. Chef Tim Ma (who is also the brains behind Kyirisan) understands that D.C. will need a little bit of education when it comes to successfully eating the dumplings, but he’s excited to share them nonetheless. The ground pork dumplings are made with Chinese chives, a pork chicken broth, and come with black vinegar for dipping. Like most of the things I was lucky enough to try at Ten Tigers, the dish is both refined and incredibly home-y. It’s exactly the kind of dish you want when it’s pouring outside, or when you’re deeply hungover.
Of course, a few Singapore Slings could help cure your hangover problems as well. Made with gin, cherry brandy, sweet and sour, club soda, and grenadine, the drink is light and refreshing, with some welcome complexity from the herbaceous gin. If you like your drinks especially boozy, go for a Mehkong Manhattan, which combines Thai whiskey, sweet vermouth, honey, and bitters. Cocktails run $10 each, so feel free to get two.
Ten Tigers also has more substantial dishes, like the Marco Polo noodles. Based off of a recipe that Ma’s uncle Paul used in his own restaurant in New York, the dish is hearty, with a broad bean ragu, thin spaghetti, shitake mushrooms, and cucumbers. It’s a little on the spicy side, but that’s exactly the kind of thing you want on a cold D.C. day. Another option is the pan fried dumplings, made with either ground pork or chicken, they’re an excellent snack to go along with a drink.
Between the beautiful space, good cocktails, and home-y food. I have a feeling we’re not going to miss Chez Billy at all.