© Nigel Parry
Johnny Monis has a new restaurant: Little Serow.
Fans of Johnny Monis's cooking, myself included, have wondered if the intensely focused chef would ever branch out from his kitchen at the tiny Komi near Dupont Circle. About eight years to the day since he opened Komi, Monis quietly unveiled his latest project, Little Serow.
Distance-wise, he didn't go far—the new restaurant occupies the basement of the brick rowhouse right next to Komi—but cooking-wise, the two restaurants are worlds apart.
Komi strongly reflects Monis's Greek heritage, but the casual new spot is devoted to the spicy, sour flavors of northeastern Thailand's Isaan cuisine. His set menu of communal dishes is $45 for walk-ins only. At a recent meal, I had delicious pork skin, still crackling from the fryer, with nam prik num (green chile) sauce, plus spicy cucumber salad with dried shrimp and lemongrass-flavored pork sausage.
Why Isaan cooking? "Isaan food has a flavor profile that I love eating on my days off, and it's what I've been cooking for staff meal and behind the scenes for years," Monis says. He has another connection to the region: He got married to his wife, Anne, on a trip there earlier this year. (Little Serow: 1511 17th St. NW, Washington, DC)