Chipotle Meets Southeast Asia: An Interview With ShopHouse


For those of you who don’t know, Chipotle has been opening restaurants nationwide under the name ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen. Recently, a ShopHouse has opened right on M Street, and tomorrow, April 22, all Georgetown students are eligible for a free rice or noodle bowl. In other words, free food from the brains behind Chipotle. This is an offer you cannot refuse.

To learn more about the restaurant itself, 4E spoke on the phone with Chris Arnold, a spokesman for Chipotle and ShopHouse.

What is the origin of the name ShopHouse?

In some Asian cities, a shophouse is a midrise walk-up building, and people operate restaurants and fresh markets in the apartments above the businesses. It would be typical to see a shophouse in southeast Asia. In fact, that’s why it’s called ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen.

So clearly the central theme of ShopHouse is southeast Asian food. Can you describe the menu?

Yeah, the restaurant draws influence from southeast Asian cooking styles. It very closely follows the Chipotle model, but it’s rice bowls and noodle bowls. The employees assemble your bowls and you pick what you want in them. You can start with either brown rice, white rice or cold rice noodles. You can add chicken, steak, tofu, etc. Then you add sauce. We have different curries, a choice of vegetables like green beans sautéed with chili paste. You can add something crunchy, and we have little herb salads. You can check out the menu at

That sounds delicious! I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.

Yeah, it’s pretty tasty.

What do you think sets ShopHouse apart from other chain restaurants?

We’re driven by the same things that make Chipotle so successful. We never thought our success was from tacos and burritos. It was from our unique food culture and people culture. Our food culture uses the best ingredients, and we use classic cooking techniques. Our people culture involves hiring really amazing people and empowering them to become future leaders of our company. We could apply the same driving forces to a restaurant serving any kind of food, which inspired ShopHouse. Basically, we’re translating the same culture to ShopHouse.

I’m sure you’re aware of the cult-like following Chipotle has among college students.

Yes, I am aware.

How do you plan on translating that success to ShopHouse?

Loyal customers are the products of a compelling unique dining experience. We try to earn their visit every time they come. We’re trying to offer an experience people find relevant and compelling, genuine and interactive.

Favorite menu item and why:

Cold rice noodles with pork and chicken meatballs, green curry sauce, green beans, peanuts, herb salad, green papaya slaw, just a great combination of flavors. Everything on the menu has flavors that are bold and pronounced. The ingredients are of great quality, there’s a painstaking attention to detail… You really can’t go wrong. People have favorites and will get the same thing every time, but if they mix it up with something new, they realize everything on the menu is good.

Your personalized bowl: What’s its name?

I’m too busy enjoying it.

Can the 4E bloggers get some free swag — T-shirts, coupons?

Let me get back to you on that.

And finally, I just want to run this name for a personalized bowl by you. We here at 4E are the Fourth Edition. What do you think about a bowl named the “Fourth Noodledition”?

It’s clever! But, you know, we stay away from actual menu items and names. We just focus on making great-tasting food and giving people exactly what they want. At Chipotle and ShopHouse, we want a focused menu that produces great variety.

Thanks for talking to us Chris Arnold, and thanks for being one of those awesome people with two first names! Also thanks to Stewart Wolfe for notifying us about the free bowls in the comment section of one of our articles.

Don’t forget to pick up your free bowl from ShopHouse on M Street between 3 p.m. and 10 p.m. tomorrow!


Georgetown Chipotle to Stop Free Drink Promotion

No more free drinksOnly three days after Chipotle founder and CEO Steve Ells delivered a lecture (which we live tweeted) on the Hilltop, tragedy has struck: The Chipotle restaurant located at 3255 M Street will no longer offer free drinks to Georgetown students.

The popular burrito spot is currently running a promotion in which Georgetown students do not have to pay for drinks, as long they present a valid university ID when paying for their meals. However, store manager Cisse Conde confirmed to 4E that the promotion will end on April 1, and soon, Hoyas will have to pay for their own beverages at the M Street location.

“We received an email this morning from our marketing strategies [department], saying that the drink promotion is culminating at the end of the month. It was not meant to go forever,” Conde said.

Here at 4E, we aren’t ones to wallow in such sadness. There are only nine days left until Chipotle’s free drink promotion ends, so until then, you’ll find us down at the M Street eatery, guzzling down as many free beverages as humanly possible.


A Eulogy For Our Fallen Comrade, Qdoba

EulogyEarlier today, The Hoya reported that the Qdoba on M Street and 33rd Street NW has closed permanently. 4E has put together these words in its memory:

We have gathered here today to mourn the loss of one of Hoyas’ favorite Tuesday (formerly Monday) night restaurants. Qdoba was the place to be every Tuesday night for cheap, not-quite-Chipotle-quality Mexican food. But alas, it couldn’t survive by selling mass amounts of burritos to us for $4 once a day every week, and so it has left us.

We would not be where we are today without Qdoba and its long-term commitment to provide Hoyas with cheap food. And for that, we thank you. We will continue to celebrate your life on M Street. For your death is not really an end, but a beginning – specifically, the beginning of Chipotle’s burrito monopoly. In your wake, we are only left with Chipotle to satisfy our hunger. Eating there and only there will be an adjustment that we will have to make. In the end though, we will persevere, and we will do it with the grace and dignity that you always had until your untimely passing.

Farewell, Qdoba. Gone, but not forgotten.




What would you do with a $25 gift card to Chipotle, Qdoba, Safeway, Starbucks, Ticketmaster, or Wisey’s?

Well you can find out if you take The Hoya’s feedback survey! We truly appreciate all of our readers, whether is here on the blog, on or the print paper and The Guide. We would love your feedback to help us service you in the best way possible! Please take a few minutes to take the survey here, because we all know you don’t really want to pay attention to your Bio lecture today.

As an incentive, you will be automatically entered to win a $25 gifts card to one of the locations mentioned above! And just think of the possibilities:

Chipotle You could get THREE steak burritos WITH GUACAMOLE.

Qdoba You could feast for free every Monday for a month! What a great way to get over those Monday blues knowing you wont have to go to Leo’s or pay for food.

Safeway Nutella. Pretzels. All of them.

Starbucks That’s either a few Venti Lattes or one super elaborate Venti, septuple shot, three flavors, soy milk, and flakes of gold.

 Ticketmaster Your favorite band is coming to The Verizon Center? Well subsidize that ticket with this gift card and feel less guilty about buying a shirt at the show!

Wisey’s I don’t even think this needs explanation. Burger. Madness. (You should all know that I personally believe that Burger Madness > Chicken Madness)

Shophouse Moving into M Street

Salad, bowl, taco or burrito? Throw in black or pinto beans. Take your pick of meat or go vegetarian. Top it with your choice of salsa. And finally, finish it off with the typical sour cream, cheese, lettuce and guacamole. Oh, and don’t forget your chips.

That’s your typical Chipotle adventure.

Now, what if you’re in the mood for Asian cuisine but don’t really have an hour and a half to sit down and be served and waited on? Well, you’re in luck. The same company behind Chipotle recently launched its Shophouse branch. Most people would throw Shophouse under the “fast casual” category of restaurants. If you really wanna think about it this way, it’s kinda as if fast food and casual dining had a baby.

The first Shophouse was opened last fall in Dupont. Word on the street is another Shophouse will be taking the space vacated by Furin’s bakery, a family-owned and operated bakery that closed last summer after 27 years at 2805 M Street.

Shophouse derives its name from the architectural style of Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Hanoi. A shophouse is essentially a building that serves as a residential apartment on the upper level and then on the lower level, houses the family’s business whether it be a family-run restaurant or convenience store. To see a real Shophouses, take a look at these 19th century Singaporean shophouses.

This “fast casual” southeast Asian kitchen boasts tastes inspired by Thai, Malaysian, Vietnamese Singaporean cuisine. If all goes well, pretty soon Georgetown students can take their pick of rice, noodles or bánh mì. Choose between meat or tofu. Sprinkle on stir-fry vegetables, curry choices and garnishes and voilà, the meal is complete—quick, easy, full of variety and within the single-digits price range.

How do you feel about having the convenience of “fast casual” Asian food right on M Street?

Photo credits: The Georgetown Metropolitan