Chef Tim Ma shares how he risked everything in search of the American dream. Eun Yang reports for our News4 Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month special.
Want to know the secret behind our creme fraiche wings? Check out the article that Bonnie Benwick wrote in the Washington Post Food Section.
Photograph by Renee Comet for The Washington Post
MAY 2, 2014
These wings have become a signature dish at Maple Ave Restaurant in Vienna. The no-cook sauce relies on the smooth blending of creme fraiche, gochujang (Korean red pepper paste) and the sour tang of sudachi juice, a Japanese citrus.
It’s preferable to have an instant-read thermometer for monitoring the oil as well as the doneness of the wings.
Make Ahead: Leftover sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 month.
Where to Buy: Sudachi juice is available at Japanese grocers such as Hana Market in the District. Gojuchang is available at Asian markets and at some Whole Foods Markets.
Tested size: 4 servings
- 4 to 6 cups canola oil, for frying
- 2 cups good-quality creme fraiche
- 3 tablespoons oyster sauce, preferably Sky Dragon brand
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce, preferably Squid brand
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup gojuchang (Korean red pepper paste; see headnote)
- 3 tablespoons tamari (wheat-free soy sauce)
- 3 tablespoons sudachi juice (see headnote; may substitute yuzu juice or fresh lime juice)
- Pinch kosher salt, plus more as needed
- Pinch freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
- 1 pound chicken wings and drumettes
- Finely chopped chives or scallions thinly sliced on the diagonal, for garnish
Heat the canola oil in a deep pot over medium-high heat, so the oil reaches 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a few layers of paper towels, then place a wire rack over them.
Combine the creme fraiche, oyster sauce, fish sauce, 1/2 cup of the gojuchang, tamari, sudachi juice and the pinches of salt and pepper in a mixing bowl. Whisk to form a smooth, well incorporated sauce. Taste; if you like spicy heat, add some or all of the remaining 1/4 cup of gojuchang.
Working in two or three batches, fry the chicken wings and drumettes to an internal temperature (taken away from the bone) of 200 degrees; this should take 7 or 8 minutes. They will be lightly golden brown. Immediately transfer to the wire rack to drain; season lightly with salt and pepper.
While the wings are still warm, transfer them to the bowl. Use your clean hands to toss and coat them evenly. Stack or arrange on a plate; garnish with the chives or scallions.
One Of D.C.’S Hottest Chefs Follows His Passion, Changes Careers
“One of D.C.’s hottest chefs follows his passion changes careers”
By: Marlena Chertock
Years ago locals came to 147 Maple Ave W. looking for a doughnut. Now, the restaurant at the same location serves American food with a flair. There’s beet salad, scallops and duck.
Tim Ma, the chef and owner of Maple Ave Restaurant, opened the restaurant almost four years ago. Last month Ma was voted one of the hottest chefs of 2013 in the D.C. region byEater.com and Northern Virginia Magazine named Maple Ave Restaurant as the best restaurant for both 2011 and 2012.
The restaurant is surrounded by shops, apartments and other restaurants on a small main street in Vienna, Va. It seats 28 and serves about 600 people a week.
Ma and his co-owner and wife, Joey Hernandez, went from bankruptcy four months after opening the restaurant to having extra seating in the back during brunches or Friday and Saturday night dinners. There are high tables with stools and a bar in the back.
Ma didn’t start out as a successful chef. For eight years he was as an engineer, working on construction projects in the Virginia area that sometimes took four years to complete. “I never saw the end product,” Ma said. “I never met the people who were using the things I was building.”
It’s the opposite with cooking, which is what draws him to it. “Here, what you’re working on you see an immediate reaction,” he said. “Your end-user is immediately able to tell you if what you made is good or bad. It takes 10 to 15 minutes a dish, not four years on a project.”
Ma knew he eventually wanted to open a restaurant. It’s in his blood. Many of his family members owned Chinese restaurants in New York and Arkansas. But he knew nothing about cooking.
So he went to the French Culinary Institute, now the International Culinary Center, when he was about 30. He survived long hours in the kitchen and criticism. “A lot of people don’t realize the true reality of being in the kitchen,” Ma said. “It’s not TV, it’s not “Top Chef,” it’s not even “Hell’s Kitchen.” Yes, there’s yelling. But in a real kitchen when you do something good you don’t get acknowledged for it. You just understand that if you’re not getting yelled at you did something good. It takes a certain personality to be able to withstand that.”
Ma credits his methodical, meticulous and patient personality to his engineering background. He enjoys the repetition in professional cooking.
“A lot of people take that for granted in this business,” he said. “Success is defined by your methodical and meticulous repetition and being able to convey that to other people. Because you’re not the only one cooking back there and you have to rely on other people’s skills.”
Ma said he is grateful he can rely on his counterpart and wife to help run the restaurant. Hernandez manages the front of the restaurant, marketing and public relations, while Ma usually manages the back and the kitchen. That’s the structure for most mom and pop restaurants, he said. And Maple Ave Restaurant is a true mom and pop — they opened on a few credit cards and money from Ma’s parents.
“I think most people speculate that it would be extremely hard (to work with your spouse) but if you both have a passion it makes it easier,” Hernandez said. “Lucky for us this was a dream that we both share.”
Hernandez is so determined in this dream that she sent wine orders to the restaurant from her BlackBerry while she was in the hospital after she gave birth to her daughter. She also plans to have her daughter, 2, and son, 8 months old, help out as soon as they can hold menus.
“We’re both perfectionists,” she said. “We will literally give every single thing to make it work. You just learn to adapt to a new lifestyle. Our life is just a little bit different than your average 9 to 5 person.”
That is one of the hardest parts of owning a restaurant — trying to balance family, personal life and being their own bosses. They spend their weekends and holidays cooking for others.
But connecting with people through food is also rewarding. “I can’t tell you how many people we’ve met since we’ve opened,” Hernandez said. “We’ve seen their kids grow up, or now they have grandkids, or their kids got married. Being able to be a part of that is great.”
Ma and Hernandez will have to learn to balance a bit more since they’re opening a second restaurant in Arlington later this year. They won’t abandon the Maple Ave restaurant, since “it’s our baby,” according to Ma. But they are excited for another.
“There’s a lot of things that we’re going to learn,” Hernandez said. “That’s one of the things I love about this business. There’s always something new.”
She’s also happy that Ma will get a proper kitchen and more space to create. The kitchen in the current restaurant is small. “It’s amazing how much food goes out of that tiny kitchen,” she said. “The more amazing part is people enjoy it and keep coming back.”
Daphne Domingo contributed to this report.
For full article click here
Thank you WaPo Express for including Chef Tim Ma in October’s article “The Tastemakers”
Secret Ingredient: Perseverance
Maple Avenue Restaurant (147 Maple Ave., Vienna) was days away from bankruptcy when Tim Ma figured he might as well start cooking whatever he wanted at the nine-table eatery he opened in 2009 with a credit card. “There’s a brunch dish we serve with eggs and kimchee that I literally make for myself every morning,” Ma says. “I was like, ‘Screw it, let’s just put it on the menu.’ ” Following some positive local press, diners flocked in droves. Now the reservation-recommended restaurant is busy slinging plates of eclectic American cuisine influenced by Ma’s classic French training. The little restaurant that could is doing so well, in fact, Ma is opening a second outlet in Arlington, named Water & Wall, on Nov. 1. “It’s going to be an expansion of Maple Avenue, with the addition of a tasting menu.”
For full article click here
Family and Friends,
Excited to share that Tim was nominated for RAMMY under the category Rising CulinaryStar of the Year! The nominee is an “up and coming” chef who demonstrates exemplary talent, shows leadership and promise for the future. The nominee must have been based in the Metropolitan Washington area for a minimum of two years. Winner will be announced at the RAMMY Awards Ceremony on June 23rd.
RAMW Announces 2013 RAMMY Award Nominees
Hundreds of the Washington, DC metropolitan area’s restaurant industry players gathered tonight at The Hamilton as the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) announced the nominees for its 31st Annual RAMMY Awards, which honors the exceptional ability and accomplishments of the DC area restaurant industry. The nominations party is a highly anticipated yearly event, second only to the restaurant awards gala, The RAMMYS, where winners are announced which will be held on June 23, 2013 at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel.
“We’re pleased to be able to honor the individuals who work hard to provide area residents and visitors with exceptional, world-class hospitality,” said Kathy Hollinger, RAMW’s new President. “Their dedication to the world and work of food and beverage adds an incredible vitality to the entire Washington Metropolitan Area. This year’s theme – ‘Restaurants in Bloom’ – acknowledges their creative contributions to the region’s burgeoning restaurant scene, and credits their talent which has earned DC recognition as a dining destination.”
The RAMMY Awards recognize excellence in 16 categories, including “Casual Dining”, “Chef of the Year”, “New Restaurant of the Year” and “Beverage/ Mixology Program of the Year”. Selecting the RAMMY nominees, and ultimately the winners, involves two separate panels of judges, the voting public and, for just one award – the Joan Hisaoka Associate Member of the Year – the RAMW Executive Committee. Any RAMW member is eligible for nomination as long as they meet the qualifications of any given category. The nominees are then reviewed by the appropriate anonymous panel of judges comprised of food/restaurant writers, educators and HR professionals who ultimately select the five finalists in each of the categories announced tonight.
For complete DC Dining article, click here.
The MAR crew is excited to share with you that Maple Ave was included in the 2013 Washingtonian’s Top 100 Very Best Restaurants. Also, thrilled to be included in this years Top 10 HOT LIST. This is what they said:
Who wouldn’t be skeptical of a suburban restaurant that charges upward of $20 for entrées and looks to be housed in a ’60s-era doughnut shop? And the menu’s crazy quilt of influences—Korean, Thai, Americana, Mediterranean, and Moroccan—doesn’t do much to convince you to chance it. But you should. Chef/owner Tim Ma doesn’t take shortcuts and puts his heart into everything he sends out. His rendition of shrimp and grits could persuade a Louisianan that the chef grew up in Bayou Country. A bowl of mussels in a saffron-coconut broth bests the work of most Thai kitchens. And pork-fried rice tastes like what a Chinese or Korean chef whips up when he’s off his shift. Don’t miss:Crème fraîche chicken wings with Korean chili paste; scallops with coconut-scallion risotto; braised beef cheek; whole branzino; beer-battered fries; chocolate dumplings; yuzu-lime pie; mochi.
For complete article click here.
“For the Perfectionist: Maple Ave. Vienna is packed with great, local restaurants, one of which serves some serious mac. Maple Ave‘s baked mac comes with Gruyere, Vermont cheddar mornay, fusili, and herbs de Provence panko crust. Though the pasta, in writing, looks very similar to Cheesetique’s mac and cheese, the al dente noodles are larger and the dish—noodles, cheeses, crust—are thrown together and then baked. It’s glorious. /147 Maple Ave., Vienna.” Lindsey Jenkins, Northern Virginia Magazine
For complete blog post click here.
“This is one of Chef Ma’s latest creations. I have my brunch go-to’s at Maple Ave, but Maple Ave is one of the few restaurants in NoVA with rotating dishes you won’t regret taking a chance on. The basil ice cream melts into the creamy risotto when the dish arrives, creating a rich, gold-colored sauce that bonds the sweetness of coconut to the saltiness of the seared scallops, and creates the image of an oozing egg yolk on a sunny-side up egg.” Jennie Tai, The Hungry Muse
For complete blog post click here.
9 Things To Love About Maple Ave by The Hungry Muse
|1) Indian In The Cupboard
At the Maple Ave Market, you’ll find boxes of fresh produce, shelves of local honey and peanut butter, refrigerated glass cases of cheese and meat; and much more. Around the corner, by the freezer of Trickling Springs ice cream–you’ll find an old cabinet full of various hand-crafted spices made by scientist-turned entreprenuer, Deepa Patke, owner of Aromatic Spice Blends in Vienna. Inside the cabinet, you’ll find packs of garam masala (one of the basic spices for Indian butter chicken), dhansaak, and vindaloo.2) Sous Vide Magic
“It’s kind of like our third baby,” Joey–Chef Ma’s wife–says of Chef Ma’s beloved sous vide machine, “If there’s one thing that gets ‘babied’ in the kitchen, it’s this!”After taking his first bite of the short rib (mentioned in #7), my boyfriend looked over at me and asked me what it was, how Chef cooked it, and told me to take notes. Unfortunately, I don’t own a sous-vide machine, so it wouldn’t matter anyway–but the point is, Chef Ma didn’t braise short rib (like the rest of the world would) and made it even more delicious.
|3) Words of Wisdom
Maple Ave Market makes it easy for shoppers who want to pick up groceries from local producers at a one stop shop that’s open seven days a week–not just on Saturday mornings!
|4) Daily Farmer’s Market
As mentioned in #3, Maple Ave Market brings together all of those favorite things you wake up to grab from your local Farmer’s Market every Saturday morning in one little shop in Vienna. They even allow you to pre-order different meats ahead of time (like organic turkeys for Thanksgiving).
|5) Naked & Delicious
Sometimes, a simple salad of incredibly fresh ingredients is worth savoring slowly, like a bowl of lobster bisque. Chef Ma claims he lightly dressed the salad in a simple vinaigrette, pepper and salt–but fellow diners and I couldn’t believe it. Sliced carrot, radish, spinach and pomegrante seeds never had us wanting a salad to never end before.
|6) Farm To Table
I know, I know… I’ve mentioned the term several times now–but farm-to-table doesn’t just mean eating dishes with farmed ingredients. Sometimes it also means being able to share a connection with someone else who values the same things you do when it comes to delicious, responsibly sourced food from growers you can actually chat with. At Maple Ave’s ‘Meet The Farmer, Meet The Chef’ dinner, it meant being able to eat food cooked by someone who could talk to you about how it was prepared, and someone who could tell you where each ingredient came from.
|7) Short Rib Double-Take
As mentioned in #2, Chef Ma didn’t braise short rib like most people would, and instead cooked it in a vacuum packed sous-vide machine that sealed in all of its flavor as it cooked slowly over time. As a result–the sliced short rib was soft, flavorful and unforgettable… just ask this guy.
|8) Four Squash Soup
And none of the four were butternut! The four squash soup was made of peanut, seminole, and acorn squash with a savory spoonful of chopped spaghetti squash at the center to pair with the sweetness of the soup. No fancy pomegranate seeds or popcorn toppings here–just simple, delicious flavors from the market’s selection of squash that day.
|9) Praline + Persimmon
Candy, crack and cream, actually. The peanut-brittle like praline crackers were so addictive, I would have stole my neighbor’s piece if he hadn’t gobbled it up so quickly. The salty praline brittle, slices of mildly sweet persimmon and mellow vanilla ice cream was perfect for a salt tooth like me. It was another dish of the meal I really didn’t want to end.
For complete article click here.
50 Best Restaurants 2012
By Stefanie Gans / Photos by Jonathan Timmes / Illustrations by Matthew Hollister
Maple Ave – Ranked #6
Modern American | $$
147 Maple Ave. W, Vienna; 703-319-2177; mapleaverestaurant.com
The doctrine of today’s urban kitchens managed to zip around the Beltway, 30 miles out and around and into a humble space on Vienna’s main strip.
The menu can stay grounded in classics, like a baked mac and cheese, but finesses the outcome with nutty (Gruyere) and sharp (cheddar) cheeses with longer, funkier, twisting noodles and salty panko crumbs that tear into the creaminess below.
Firey, little wings (this is what a chicken wing looks like without growth hormones, by the way) bathe in creme fraiche and chili paste for a bar snack that belongs nowhere near unappreciative drunkards.
Larger plates can offer delicately spiced scallops with an overlay of barely wilted peashoots or a leg of lamb, inspired by Morocco, that arrives deboned for eating ease.
A tangy yuzu (Asian citrus) key lime pie-in-a-round delights with singed housemade mini-marshmallows.
The room is tight—with an even more snug parking lot around back—and provides little atmosphere, but Vienna is better for the arrival of this scrappy mom-and-pop shop with an eye toward honesty and ingenuity.
MUST TRY: Crème fraiche wings
For complete list, click here