21 Aug 2018

For Scion’s Joanne Liu, it’s a labor of love

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Scion RW 2018

For Scion’s Joanne Liu, it’s a labor of love

Joanne Liu loves the restaurant business.

That’s not too surprising, considering she practically grew up in her parents’ Chinese restaurant on the Wharf in Washington, D.C., and has fond memories of her days there.

Jenny’s, named for her mother, a Chinese immigrant, “was like our living room,” Liu said. “We spent holidays there, all our family time there.”

So after working 10 years as a forensic accountant — like many immigrant parents, hers pushed her and her sister to pursue college and white-collar careers, she said — “I was drawn back to what I love.”

Five years ago, Liu opened Scion in downtown Silver Spring. During a recent weekday lunchtime, she was part-bartender, part-hostess, part-server.

“Everything about this business is hard,” she said. “But I like to make people happy. It’s challenging, but it’s rewarding.”

Why Silver Spring?

“I love the neighborhood,” Liu said, “and I wanted a neighborhood restaurant, where you see the same people every day.”

In fact, one regular patron compared Scion to “Cheers” of TV fame.

Scion is again participating in the annual Silver Spring-Takoma Park Restaurant Week, organized by Montgomery County Councilmember Tom Hucker and his staff. Now in its fourth year, it will run from Tuesday, Sept. 4, through Sunday, Sept. 9.

“Why wouldn’t I participate?” Liu asked. Restaurant Week is “about the neighborhood and I want to support it.”

“It’s important to do it for the community and it’s a good time to debut new menu items,” she said.

This year, that means a lemon-garlic shrimp and pasta dish, among others. Liu may have grown up in Chinese restaurant, but Scion’s menu is eclectic, with appetizers such as fried pickles and jambalaya croquettes and entrees including salmon picatta and spicy yogurt chicken.

Liu also owns NaiNai’s Noodle and Dumpling Bar next door, which also is participating in Restaurant Week and will be introducing new rice bowls and baos — which she described as “Asian tacos.” NaiNai’s opened three years ago.

“I love the restaurant scene in Silver Spring,” Liu said. “It’s why I got out of D.C. and am here now.”

Scion is at 1200 East West Highway. Its phone number is 301-585-8878 and its website is www.scionrestaurant.com.

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