Specialty Shop

Spice prevails at Chipotle's new ShopHouse

This city swoons for a good banh mi.

So it seems serendipitous that our new favorite sandwich almost didn't exist.

ShopHouse, the mix-and-match Asian restaurant from Chipotle, started as a place for Singapore-, Malaysian- or Thai-style street food, including chilled noodle salads and bowls filled with aromatic jasmine or brown rice.

In the weeks before opening, the team decided that their proteins, including chile-rubbed steak and organic tofu, would be excellent in crusty Vietnamese-style sandwiches.

Pork-and-chicken meatballs ($7) are our pick to puff out the sandwich. Seared to a crisp brown exterior, the meats are rolled with house-made tamarind-chile jam, minced ginger and cilantro. Each sandwich is then topped with vinegar-doused papaya slaw, a flash of herbs and crushed peanuts.

As for the original bowls, diners top the meats with vegetables like roasted eggplant with Thai basil, and sweetly spicy charred white corn with chile jam. The composition is finished with your choice of sauce. The amount of Thai chiles in ShopHouse's coconut-milk-based red curry sauce is fittingly liberal; it blossoms with garlic, shallots, lemongrass and slightly bitter galangal flowers to temper the heat.

Young-coconut water ($2) awaits for singed mouths.

ShopHouse, 1516 Connecticut Ave. NW (at Dupont Circle); 202-232-4141 or shophousekitchen.com