In Tysons, Singaporean Fine Dining By a Michelin-Starred Chef

With the debut of Jiwa Singapura, Pepe Moncayo is the latest D.C. chef to cross the Potomac into Northern Virginia.
Beef Rendang

Beef Rendang at Jiwa Singapura in Tysons, Virginia (Photo by Scott Suchman)

Tysons Galleria has a new fine dining spot, centering on the diverse flavors of Singapore and helmed by a chef whose culinary pedigree spans continents. Jiwa Singapura, which opened Feb. 15, is the latest from Pepe Moncayo, the chef behind the Michelin-starred, Spanish kaiseki restaurant Cranes in D.C.

Chef Pepe 2

Chef Pepe Moncayo (Photo by Scott Suchman)

Born in Barcelona, Moncayo earlier in his career cooked at several acclaimed Spanish restaurants, including Michelin-starred Via Veneto and Can Fabes. He relocated to Singapore in 2010, where he worked alongside lauded chef Santi Santamaria, who died in 2011, as well as chef and partner Daniel Chavez.

Moncayo opened his first solo venture, Bam!, in the city-state in 2013. Singapore is also “where he met his wife, had his children, and deepened his love for cooking and the art of hospitality,” according to a press release. “He calls it his ‘home, forever.'”

Jiwa Interior

Jiwa Singapura’s contemporary space features an open kitchen and outdoor terrace dining (Photo by Scott Suchman)

Jiwa, designed by //3877, features 30-foot ceilings, an open kitchen, bar seating and a 3,000-square-foot terrace with a fireplace.

Salted Egg Shrimps

Salted duck egg with chili, curry and shrimp at Jiwa (Photo by Scott Suchman)

The menu at Jiwa presents a mix of Singaporean street foods, along with elevated dishes inspired by family recipes from the chef’s wife, Aishah Moncayo, who serves as the restaurant’s director of service. Choices include sardine curry puffs, laksa with shrimp and tofu, sweet and sour pork, and beef rendang (braised shank) with sambal and makrut lime. A signature crab dish features snow crab with chili sauce and mantou buns.

Chili Crab

Chili crab at Jiwa Singapura (Photo by Scott Suchman)

Wine and sake are available by the glass, and local beers include two selections from Caboose Brewing Co.: Rustic Love, a hazy IPA, and Jiwa’s house pilsner. Robert Gorman, who’s crafted drinks at Hank’s Oyster Bar in D.C. and Rustico in Ballston, serves as beverage manager.

For a quaff that’s nearly too stunning to sip, order If Merlions Could Talk (named for the mythical fish-meets-lion creature that is an emblem of Singaporean culture), which blends rum, apple brandy, pandan and orgeat cream. Or, for purple haze in a glass, opt for The Singapore Girl, made with cucumber-infused gin, ginger, lemon and ube.

If Merlions Could Talk

If Merlions Could Talk, a cocktail made with rum, apple brandy and orgeat (Photo by Scott Suchman)

Finish your meal with a digestif, such as Italian liqueur Nonino Amaro, or dig into one of seven desserts designed by pastry chef Gregory Baumgartner (whose credits include Trummer’s, Cranes and Baltimore restaurants Wit & Wisdom and PABU).

An especially decadent option is the ice cream loti featuring kaya spread, candied citrus, pandan ice cream and caramelized shortbread nestled between two slices of pandan brioche.

Jiwa Singapura is located at 2001 International Drive in McLean. It is open Wednesday-Sunday from 5 p.m.-10 p.m. Lunch service is forthcoming.

Categories: Food & Drink