MALDEN – If a Burger, Poutine, Spaghetti, and Steak do not sound like your ideas of Asian cuisine, then you have not been to District Kitchen. Brand new to Malden, District Kitchen is the latest creation of restauranteur Douglas Tran.
He already owns the popular All Seasons Table right down the road, where the food leans towards traditional Asian eats. At District Kitchen, Douglas wanted to switch things up by offering a menu filled with dishes that infuse Southeast Asian flavors into Western favorites.
Manager Jackie Bouley oversees the 54-seat dining room, which is sleek and modern, with warm woods, concrete floors, and plenty of friendly faces.
“This is a very casual setting,” she said. “The interior is so beautiful, but we wanted it to be comfortable too. It’s airy, it’s roomy, it’s nice.”
Some of the most popular seats in the house are right by the open kitchen, where diners get an up-close view of Chef Peter Nguyen’s insta-worthy eats.
“It’s a great, comfortable, relaxing place. Great place to have cocktails and food. Shareable apps. Great atmosphere. Great music. It’s a great place to be.”
The menu at District Kitchen is a mix of small plates and family style entrees. Just about everything is meant to be shared, like the over the top Arirang Poutine.
“It’s smothered in bulgogi beef, onions and a homemade cheese sauce. The fries are also made in-house,” Jackie explained. “The reason why we called it Arirang poutine was because arirang is a traditional Korean feel-good folk song, so we wanted to serve something that made everyone feel good.”
Another feel-good food that looks even better, are the crispy wonton cups filled with mango salsa and topped with honey caramelized shrimp. Sort of an Asian take on nachos, these perfect bites are a delicious contrast in texture, flavor, and temperature.
“The shrimp is warm, served over the top, but the mango salsa itself is cold inside, and the shells that they’re in are the wonton shells that we make homemade here in the restaurant,” Jackie described.
If ribs and wings are more your thing, District Kitchen has some you have to order. The House Chicken Wings are fried crispy, and tossed in a hot and tangy sriracha lime sauce. The so-called Drunken Ribs are slow roasted, then grilled and finished with a hoisin glaze.
“Cannot keep up with the demand on these ribs,” Jackie said. “They are a gooey, finger licking, delicious sauce. They melt in your mouth. They are so tender. One order is just not enough.”
Another dish that might have you ordering extra is the Taiwanese Pork Belly Bun, as long as you aren’t afraid of a little fat.
“Do not expect it to be lean,” Chef Peter cautioned. “Pork belly is meant to be very fatty. It’s more fatty, it’s more flavorful. It’s a flavor bomb. It’s delicious.”
Even some all-American classics get an Asian twist at District Kitchen, like a Grilled Ribeye with Roasted Potatoes served with a cilantro, basil, and mint chimichurri; or their unique spin on a burger, featuring Korean flavored beef topped with gojuchang aioli.
“We call it an umami bomb. There’s no cheese on the burger either, because you don’t need it. A lot of people love cheeseburgers, but no one ever asks for cheese on the DK burger because it’s not necessary,” Jackie said. “It’s served with caramelized onions on a miso buttered brioche bun that will melt in your mouth.”
The ultimate attention getter has to be a noodle dish known as the Teppanyaki Sizzle.
“We have the spaghetti; we toss with a medley of vegetables, peas, carrots, corns. And then we have a sizzling platter. We put butter on there, we put the pasta right on the sizzling platter. Creates a lot of noise, and crack an egg right on the side. The egg cooks right on the sizzling platter,” Chef Peter described. “We put a protein of choice on top, which is salmon, chicken, pork chop or ribeye. It’s a crowd pleaser.”
So are the desserts, like the Chocolate Mousse Bomb, or Thai Tea Crème Caramel.
“All our desserts are made in-house. If you have nothing else at District Kitchen, you have to try the desserts,” Jackie declared. “The Thai Tea Crème Caramel is to die for. It’s a delectable, sweet, oozing with caramel dessert. Soft and smooth. Absolutely delicious.”
And it’s the perfect way to end a deliciously different meal at District Kitchen. You will find District Kitchen at 2 Florence Street in Malden, and online at district-kitchen.com.
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