Restaurant craziness on Feb. 14 is a given, but there will be a special sort of craziness tonight over at 705 6th St. NW. That's when Daikaya, arguably the most anticipated restaurant of 2013, debuts the ramen portion of the restaurant, starting at 5 p.m. Eater checked in with Brian Miller of Edit Lab at Streetsense, lead architect on the project, to learn more about the design of this part of the restaurant. Daikaya's izakaya portion will open in about a month.
1. The goal for the ramen part of the restaurant was to be "pretty simple and straightforward," said Miller, in order to match the same approach to the cuisine. Miller likened the design to a cafeteria. While the izakaya will be the sort of place where customers are encouraged to spend an evening, the ramen shop is geared more towards the customer coming in to enjoy a ramen and go.
2. Edit stuck with mostly neutral colors for the color palette of the ramen shop, with oak and plaster accents. Some colors are visible on the restaurants tiles, such as teal and citrine, providing a bit of an accent.
3. The real focal point of the restaurant is the kitchen where ramen chefs are cooking. The large picture window into the restaurant gives passersby a chance to see them in action. Flames will rise from the firing woks, and steam and smoke will lend to the restaurant's atmosphere.
4. Daikaya is a rarity for a restaurant: one that's built from the ground up. "It's incredibly rare," said Miller, who basically got the chance to begin with a clean slate when developing the restaurant. In izakayas (bars with food) in Japan, there's usually a lantern that hangs outside to indicate the restaurant is open. Here, Miller and his team designed the whole building to evoke such a lantern.
5. While the ramen portion of the area is small, at 40 seats, "In Japan this plae would be the equivalent of a Clyde's," said Miller. So attempts were made in the design to make the space feel intimate and personal. In Japan, many ramen counters have the customers facing a wall. Here, the space is more option, but table partitions allow customers to feel like they have some privacy for their own party of diners, while still being part of the action of the restaurant.
6. Miller and partners Katsuya Fukushima, Yama Jewayni and Daisuke Utagawa all took a trip to Tokyo together in order to get design inspiration for Daikaya. Originally, the ramen and izakaya portions of the restaurant were going to be more integrated. But when they saw many shops in Japan with entirely different concepts housed on different floors, that helped change the plan. The trip to Tokyo had an influence on everything from the restaurant's music to its aprons to its cutlery.
7. Where the ramen portion is light and open, the izakaya to come will be "dark and textured," said Miller. "It will be a place you want to linger," he said.
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