Magpie and the Tiger Will Make a Comeback With Pop-Up on H Street Northeast

The month-long residency will feature a set menu of all new Korean-inspired dishes.

Magpie and the Tiger will serve an assortment of traditional and untraditional banchan at their pop-up. Photograph by Rebecca Hattery-Khan.

Magpie and the Tiger seemed like one of the dining scene’s most promising newcomers when it opened at the start of the year. The Korean-inspired spot in Petworth was a partnership between Moon Rabbit’s Kevin Tien and his longtime right-hand chef Caleb Jang, who turned out showstoppers like stir-fried lobster with ginger-scallion noodles and sweet-spicy garlic fried chicken.

But after seven months in business, the restaurant closed. At the time, Tien cited inconsistent traffic alongside rising costs and staffing issues. Jang, speaking about the closure for the first time, says the two didn’t see eye to eye on the operation: “That’s basically all that I can say about that. We just didn’t really agree on what Magpie in the Tiger was.”

Now, though, Jang and his wife/business partner/co-chef Roren Choi are bringing back Magpie and the Tiger with a month-long residency at the H Street Northeast kitchen and event space of catering company Please Bring Chips. The pop-up dubbed “Gachi Gachi!”—meaning “together”—will offer a set menu featuring an array of banchan, a choice of plates, and dessert from November 11 through December 11. Tickets, available here, are $195 with alcoholic drink pairings or $125 with non-alcoholic drink pairings.

“Our goal with this residency is to continue what Magpie and the Tiger was doing, exploring what Korean American food is,” Jang says.

Magpie and the Tiger chefs Roren Choi and Caleb Jang
Couple Roren Choi and Caleb Jang will prepare many dishes that were never featured at the original Magpie and the Tiger. Photograph by Rebecca Hattery-Khan.

The menu brings all new dishes, starting with traditional and untraditional banchan highlighting what’s local and seasonal. Winter persimmons are stir-fried with walnuts and anchovies for one sweet-salty-umami side dish. Another combines kabocha squash with garlic, onions, and kale.

From there, each diner will choose from one of four small plates and one of three medium plates (with an option for add-ons). Among the highlights: grilled kimchi-wrapped sausages and tteokgalbi—minced and grilled short rib patties that were historically enjoyed by Korean royalty. For dessert, a sundae with hotteok, a popular pancake-style street food, and misugaru (roasted grain powder) ice cream.

Kimchi-wrapped sausages will be featured on Magpie and the Tiger’s pop-up menu. Photograph by Rebecca Hattery-Khan.

For Jang and Choi, the pop-up is a chance to finally serve dishes they didn’t always have the capacity to execute while running their own space. “You’re the plumber, there’s permitting issues… You don’t have time, honestly, to put all creative ideas into the menu,” says Choi, who previously worked in the kitchens of Tail Up Goat and Reveler’s Hour. “This is really an outpouring of a lot of the different items that we had on our backburner.”

Please Bring Chips launched six years ago, but moved into the H Street space previously occupied by Burmese restaurant Thamee earlier this year. The company will provide the drink pairings. Co-Founder Chad Drummond says they’ll feature natural wines, makgeolli, sake, and a cocktail highlighting one of the only gins made with all Korean ingredients.

The pop-up is the first in a series of chef residencies for Please Bring Chips. Coming up next: Muchas Gracias founder Christian Irabién (Dec. 15 – Jan. 22) and Shababi Chicken chef Marcelle Afram (Jan. 26 – Feb. 26).

As for what’s next for Magpie and Tiger? Jang and Choi have been doing private dinners and one-off events (including a Monday Night Football Korean bar snack pop-up on November 7 at Baltimore brewery Wet City). They’re not currently seeking another permanent space.

“I think we’re kind of at a crossroads right now,” Jang says. “We’re sort of exploring through this pop-up what we want to do moving forward.”

Please Bring Chips. 1320 H Street, NE. 

Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.