Chef Tim Ma, the culinary genius behind Maple Ave Restaurant in Vienna, VA opened Water & Wall in Arlington, VA last year and has received much-deserved praise. A hardware engineer-turned-Chef who went to the French Culinary Institute to pursue a burgeoning passion for the culinary arts has helped make the Arlington area more of a foodie destination. Water & Wall’s General Manager (and Chef Ma’s wife), Joey Hernandez is Chef Ma’s inspiration and rightfully so. Joey was the one who helped Chef Ma take the leap in becoming a culinary artist. The restaurant is beautifully decorated, incredibly well-managed and such a pleasure to dine at. The two together make a powerful duo and are probably the nicest, funniest and most humble couple I’ve met in the restaurant industry.
I first discovered Water & Wall last year. A good friend treated me to a dinner that will forever stay with me. So much so, that I recently returned and once again, had an amazing time and extremely memorable meal.
Here’s a little teaser snapshot of my recent drool-worthy culinary journey … You’ll want to continue reading to learn more about each dish.
I’ll start off with the two appetizers: Heirloom Tomatoes with Fresh Mozzarella and Seared Diver Scallops.
Heirloom Tomatoes and Fresh Mozzarella
I’ve always been a fan of the combination of tomatoes and mozzarella since I was a little girl, but these plump tomatoes, with a beautiful deep red color, tasted like they were infused with sunshine. The fresh mozzarella was firm and possessed great flavor. What brought the two together was the basil pistou, saba and olive oil; and these three simple ingredients made every bite more scrumptious than the last. Vegetarians will delight themselves with this dish.
Seared Diver Scallops
As soon as I saw scallops on the menu, a huge smile came across my face. I absolutely adore scallops and these were incredible. Seared to perfection and buttery in taste, these scallops were perfectly soaked in a melange of yuzu and dashi over cucumber-daikon noodles topped with crispy shiitake. Seafood lovers, make sure to get this! You won’t regret it. It’s a dish that radiates summer.
Next up two entrées that take it to the next level: Saffron & White Wine Fettuccine and Duck Confit.
Saffron & White Wine Fettuccine
I always love to see how restaurants’ dress up pastas, and this combination immediately peaked my interest. I will be up front and let you know that this dish is a tantalizing treat guaranteed to make any foodie drool. The saffron, white wine and sofrito run and swirl together amplifying each other’s flavor; and mixed in with a perfect balance of summer squash, mushrooms, paprika almonds and manchego, this dish becomes a pièce de résistance.
One of my favorite main courses! I had this the last time I came here and with such fond and savory memories, I had to get it again. Let’s just say my memory did not fail me 😉 The golden duck breast is crispy on the outside and tender and flavorful on the inside. On a bed of green tomato chow chow and summer vegetable farrow salad, this fusion makes for a signature dish that will excite even the most discerning palate.
If you’ve been before, I don’t need to convince you to go back ;-). If you haven’t been yet, I hope this post has given you the impetus to go out and try it for yourself. I can promise you that you won’t be disappointed.
In case you need another good reason to visit, head to Water & Wall for lunch Monday–Friday between 11am and 2pm and enjoy their new lunch pop-up concept called Uncle Paul Ma’s Kitchen Lunch Pop-Up (in honor of Chef’s Uncle Paul who originally inspired him to follow his passion in pursuing a career in the culinary arts). This unique and delectable Chinese-inspired menu will be available until August 29th.