Dish of the Week: Astoria DC’s sober soup

Media Credit: Melanie Del Castillo Sequeira | Photographer

Astoria’s sober soup, the restaurant's most popular dish, creates a perfectly balanced sweet-and-sour broth.

For a taste of savory Sichuan-style food, rock and roll and exotic cocktails, head to Astoria DC in Dupont Circle.

Located at 1521 17th St. NW, Astoria is characterized by its lively outdoor seating and intricate interior designs. Astoria’s inviting atmosphere makes for a great spot to take a few friends at the end of the day or to bring a date to for a romantic evening.

The outdoor seating is decorated with shiny globe string lights, small cushions, greenery and a set of heaters, making the open space ideal for enjoying the fall weather. On the other hand, the inside of the restaurant resembles a train station, and its walls are decorated with blue mosaics and gold details, giving the restaurant a vintage feel, reminiscent of a 1920s speakeasy.

The dim lighting in the restaurant’s interior gives the space a particular romantic feeling, which is, at the same time, contrasted with loud, old-fashioned rock music that plays throughout the dining are. Altogether, the decorations and environment make you feel like you are on an exotic trip abroad rather than in the District.

Astoria can get pretty booked, even on weekdays, so be sure to make a reservation at least a couple days in advance.

As soon as I was seated, my server brought me a small bowl full of goldfish crackers, a distinctive treat on the house. Everything on the menu costs $15 each, including food and drinks. I ended up sharing three plates with a friend.

Astoria’s most popular dish, the sober soup, consists of a chicken broth with spicy pork and shrimp wontons. The flavors of soy sauce and hints of wine create a perfectly-balanced sweet and sour broth.

I opted for the spicy version, which includes a mix of roasted red peppers and complements the broth with an added layer of flavor.

Yet, my favorite element of the dish was the wontons, which are extremely soft and warm and feel like they could almost melt in your mouth. Biting into the inside of the wonton is like hitting a gold mine, where the distinct flavors of pork, shrimp and cilantro come together and create a savory mix.

My friend and I also ordered the veggie fried rice and the chili wontons, which were both thoroughly seasoned with garlic and chili peppers and, like most Sichuan cuisine, on the spicier side. The fried rice, made with carrots, corn and eggs, reminded me of homemade authentic rice, while the chili wontons, filled with spicy pork and chili oil, were characterized by the bold and rich flavor of the soft meat.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that the restaurant also offers a wide variety of plant-based options, making it a convenient spot for vegetarian and vegan diners. The mapo tofu, with chili, garlic and sichuan peppercorn especially piqued my interest.

Astoria DC also serves elaborate cocktails, including the garden state drink which mixes mint, lemon and passionfruit with gin and vodka. The restaurant also offers other non-alcoholic beverages, and the bartender was kind enough to prepare us some homemade ginger ale, a combination of club soda and ginger syrup, which was not offered on the menu.

The next time you’re in Dupont, stop by Astoria for some tasty food, novel drinks and a spirited D.C. nightlife experience.

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