Like Ma, chefs all around D.C. are telling their personal stories through food. For Javier Fernandez at Kuya Ja’s Lechon Belly
in Rockville, Maryland, that’s slow-roasted Filipino-style pork belly and spring-roll-like lumpia
as thin and crisp as pirouette cookies. For Sebastian Oveysi at Amoo’s Restaurant
in McLean, Virginia, it’s four different Iranian styles of rice, plus tahdig
, the golden, buttery, bottom-of-the-rice-pot specialty. Daniela Moreira at Timber Pizza Co.
, a pizzeria with a cultish following in D.C.’s Petworth neighborhood, makes flaky empanadas based on a dough recipe and technique her grandmother taught her in Córdoba, Argentina.
And for Ma, it’s a pastiche of Asian and American culinary traditions that converge in dishes such as spaghetti squash ssam
– a nest of roasted squash threads served with ssamjang
and peanut sauces, fried garlic and shallots, “everything” bagel and togarashi seasonings, limes, and butter lettuce cups for DIY wrapping – which I devoured at American Son’s bustling bar. The dish references Korea, Malaysia, Japan, and Jewish deli tradition, all in one frilly green bundle.