“We’re not trying to pretend we’re authentic Chinese,” says Andrew Chiou. In fact, the food at Lucky Danger is firmly American Chinese. (The restaurant’s slogan is “American Chinese by a Chinese American.”) But don’t think of Chiou and co-chef Tim Ma’s restaurant as just another takeout joint. For one, the location that opens in Arlington’s Westpost on July 21 is a sequel to an already lauded concept in DC.
Both chefs come from fine-dining backgrounds. Chiou studied at the Culinary Institute of America before making his name at Momo Yakitori. Ma previously worked at Kyirisan and American Son. But Chiou brings expertise in American Chinese food that he gained from a stage with a Taiwanese chef he knows only as Tony at his family’s favorite takeout spot in Richardson, Texas.
Lucky Danger began life as a pop-up at Prather’s on the Alley in DC’s Mt. Vernon Triangle last November. Chiou and Ma’s goal for their menu was to approach quotidian American-Chinese fare from their craft ethos. The made-to-order dishes, sold at palatable prices, rushed out the door early on, often resulting in a sold-out restaurant.
The new Arlington location is larger than the one in DC, which allowed the chefs to expand the menu to include “more hands-on, labor-intensive dishes,” says Chiou. Those include a scallion pancake and dumplings that are made from scratch. Guest requests for General Tso’s and Orange Chicken are finally being met. There’s moo shoo pork with homemade pancakes, too. And while most dishes are simply more carefully crafted American Chinese classics, some are slightly more cheffed-up than Chiou might have you believe. The duck fried rice, for example, has gotten plenty of ink for its inclusion of both tea-smoked breast and legs that are confited. The photo above is of pig ear salad.
Like the previous location, the Arlington Lucky Danger is takeout- and delivery-only. But Chiou says customers are asking for sit-down options and future iterations might incorporate seating and service. Will those restaurants be in NoVA? “We do want to,” says the chef of opening more spots in Virginia. “But we don’t have any plans yet. Our next will be in the Foggy Bottom area [of DC]. Keep an eye out for that.” 1101 S. Joyce St., Arlington
Photo by Anna Meyer
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