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Sidwell Friends School's Student Newspaper Since 1974


Sidwell Friends School's Student Newspaper Since 1974


Sidwell Friends School's Student Newspaper Since 1974


Popular Contemporary Vietnamese Restaurant Moon Rabbit Reopens

Moon Rabbit abruptly closed last year, shocking Washington’s culinary world. Photo: Rachel Paraoan.

Originally located at the Wharf in Washington, the contemporary Vietnamese restaurant Moon Rabbit quickly caught the attention of the culinary world. However, the restaurant unexpectedly closed last spring in “a stunning and sudden exit,” according to Eater DC. The restaurant was closed due to “a failed fight with IHG Hotels and Resorts to unionize [the] staff,” but the popularity of Moon Rabbit meant that Chef Kevin Tien “was flooded with offers from real estate brokers right after closing doors at the Wharf.” He announced the restaurant’s return just six months after its closure, relocating Moon Rabbit to the heart of Penn Quarter. 

Moon Rabbit’s revival marks a new beginning amidst the vibrant hustle of its neighborhood. “With a new location will come an all-new lineup of Vietnamese dishes accented with [Kien’s] signature modern touches,” Kien said in an interview with Eater DC. In the wake of the unforeseen closure, Tien’s vision for Moon Rabbit reemerged with renewed vigor.

Our aim is to offer originality and remind people of home while breaking away from stereotypes.

— Kevin Tien


“The hotel locale meant curating the menu to a clientele that was ‘maybe not as adventurous when it comes to the DC dining scene,’” Tien said in an interview with Washingtonian. “Now, I get to go 150-percent where I want to take Vietnamese food.” Tien expressed a deep dedication to genuine flavors blended with creative flair, and aims to propel Vietnamese culinary arts to unprecedented levels in Washington’s food landscape. 

“Our aim is to offer originality and remind people of home while breaking away from stereotypes,” Tien explained.

According to Tien, each creation at Moon Rabbit is a carefully composed homage to heritage with a contemporary twist. For example, according to the Washingtonian, Tien “plans to feature a number of pastas inspired by the many traditional Vietnamese soups,” such as a lasagnette, a Vietnamese beef stew layered between sheets of pasta. Moon Rabbit also offers a “secret” menu, where diners can taste an array of experimental dishes. 

Moon Rabbit champions the joy of shared dining, curating moments that resonate with the warmth of Vietnamese family gatherings. According to restaurant reviews, Tien has successfully created a restaurant where food is not merely sustenance, but rather the foundation for a community revolving around artisanal meats and house-cured specialties. 

“When dining with a party, there was a big main showpiece with all the sides. I liked the feeling of everyone reaching in to get food and that sense of togetherness,” Tien reflected.

More than just a restaurant, Moon Rabbit also stands at the forefront of the movement to protect Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. Washingtonian stated that Tien hopes “the space [will] give him another platform for Chefs Stopping AAPI Hate,” the movement he co-founded along with Tim Ma to combat racism and violence against the AAPI community. 

Though Moon Rabbit is Tien’s crowning achievement, he has explored cuisine beyond the lens of the high-end, fine-dining experience of Moon Rabbit. Tien owns multiple fast-casual locations serving Vietnamese food, such as Hot Lola’s, Doki Doki BBQ and Doki Doki Sushi. 

Moon Rabbit is open from 5–9:30 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday and 5–10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

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