The Source: An Inspiring Journey

One of my favorite sources for Chinese food is not really a Chinese restaurant.  It’s The Source, a Wolfgang Puck restaurant, where Executive Chef Scott Drewno exhibits a finesse for creating Chinese dishes such as dumplings, roast duck, and steamed buns.   Since my last visit to The Source, there has been a renovation to its menu and decor. We ascend a staircase into the sleek upstairs dining room, and step into an upscale dining experience, and a menu that may be described as Asian fusion or Asian inspired, or actually… just plain inspired.

I’m taking a break from a conference with five colleagues. We’re weary from a long day of work and uninteresting hotel food. A foamy Asian pear martini, with a thin slice of pear floating on top, is just what we need to transition ourselves into relaxation mode.

Spicy tuna tartare with sesame-miso cones are a long-standing popular starter at The Source, and I’m relieved to see they have made it through the revamped menu.  A selection of dim sum is a happy way to explore Chef Drewno’s exploration into China’s various tastes and textures.  Crispy chicken dumplings, lobster spring rolls, pork potstickers, and scallop siu mai square off on the appealing plate.  Deliciously warm scallion rolls are a well-seasoned companion to the dim sum assortment.

The Source dim sum

As spring approaches Chef Drewno is prepping new dishes, and we squeal with delight as we are treated to a preview.  A new star is about to emerge at The Source- a hot, crispy cumin lamb dumpling with a cooling side of yogurt sauce. As a single dumpling bite lingers on the plate, I sock it away and to savor so it’s my last bite of the night.

The Source cumin lamb dumplings

Wok fired blue catfish with fries is reminiscent of beach food, but with an Asian twist. (Ooh, anyone remember the television show China Beach with Dana Delaney?) Oops, I digress.

The Source wok fried fish

A main course, which is more of a main event, is whole roasted duckling for two. It’s actually three dishes in one. The first is an interactive serving of glistening sliced duck breast, which you portion into a steamed bun and slather to taste with garlic hoisin, apricot mustard, and 10 spice salt. This is accompanied by flavorful wok fried duck thigh and legs with chili black bean sauce and scallions. And, just when we think we can’t eat another bite, out comes aromatic duck bone broth with one perfect duck wonton that elicits an “oh my.”

The Source duck


The Source wok fried legs and wings with scallions

For those who prefer to duck out, poached Atlantic cod with fragrant chili oil is equally gratifying, if not quite as showy. The accompanying lobster fried rice and wok fired root vegetables provide jolts of flavor.

The Source has an array of offerings on the ground floor that transforms it from a fine dining venue to one you want to visit regularly.  I’m salivating over the idea of a hot pot experience for four (who wants to go with me!?)  There’s a lounge menu featuring a variety of dumplings, wok fried dishes, and bbq items including bao buns with roast pork or Chinese duckling. Mondays feature $5 dumplings all night long.

I recently attended a symposium entitled “Celebrating Food!” sponsored by Les Dames d’Escoffier, DC Chapter.  A session called “Rethinking Immigrant Cuisine” included a discussion about the words ethnic and authentic in describing restaurants. The Source comes up as an example.  Is it ethnic?  Is it authentic?  Does it really matter?

One of the things I love most about restaurants is how they can transport us away from hectic everyday life, and into a delicious new reality. The Source is the perfect source for an inspirational journey.


The Source, 575 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC

Washingtonian 100 Very Best Restaurants 2016, #11

Washington Post review by Tom Sietsema: “The Source review: Renovations brighten the room — and the menu”

Related Post:

The Source:  Finding A Great Source for Brunch

The Source Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


  1. My husband would swoon for the duck! Can’t wait to try the spring menu, hard to believe we’ve still never been to The Source–I have to stop cooking so much! Thanks for the shout out for Les Dames, Lori.

    • Aviva, yes you really must go to The Source.
      And the Les Dames session I mention was really a terrific one. Lots of food for thought!

  2. I’m reposting a comment about The Source posted on my previous post from 2012. But since this is from February 2016, it bears repeating here:

    Mim says:
    February 28, 2016 at 2:09 pm (Edit)
    Hey Lori,
    We went to The Source last night for Barry’s birthday. I know you have lots of restaurants to try on your list and probably somewhere you’ve been before doesn’t rank highest, but highly recommend that this restaurant is on your list for dinner. Tuna cones, lobster dumplings and 32-day primed beef appetizers were outstanding as was the crispy whole fish main course. Carrot cake with ginger ice cream was on the house for Barry’s birthday and was really good too. The restaurant gave us the tuna cones and also chive buns (not a great description of something else that was delicious) on the house because of Barry’s birthday. Of course, we wiped out whatever savings we could realize with the wine order! Anyway, check it out if you can


  1. […] The Orlando shootings dominated everyone’s thoughts. Chef Scott Drewno eloquently referenced the tragedy in accepting his award for Chef of the Year. “This industry is about love and acceptance.  We have a voice to make a change.  Eliminate hate.” “It doesn’t matter your sexual orientation, your religion. If you have passion, if you have heart, if you have desire, we welcome you on our team.” Drewno’s acceptance speech was a clear favorite of the night, striking an appropriate chord in an otherwise celebratory evening. This is the second Chef of the Year win for Drewno, who is Executive Chef of The Source by Wolfgang Puck. {My recent post:  “The Source:  An Inspiring Journey“} […]

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