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Devour Most of Chiko’s Funky Asian Cooking for $50

Evolving tasting menu is a steal

While sampling the Chinese- and Korean-inspired fare created by Chiko co-founders Scott Drewno (alum of The Source by Wolfgang Puck), Drew Kim (co-founder of Matchbox Food Group), and Danny Lee (co-founder of Mandu) piecemeal is certainly an option, adventurous diners should splurge on a $50 tasting tour that features just about everything.

The debut restaurant from the recently formed Fried Rice Collective (the name the trio of hospitality vets gave this collaborative venture) opened July 7 in the former DC-3 space on Barracks Row. Kim told Eater that switching things over from the gourmet hot dog stand to the self-styled Asian spot required little more than a fresh coat of paint and some new signage.

A menu board displays the 14 dishes, half dozen “snacks” (think: pickled and marinated items, a la Korean banchan), and solo dessert — produced in conjunction with fellow innovator Dolcezza — the trio of dining aficionados have come up with so far. Smaller plates, including double-fried, proprietary spice-crusted chicken wings and assorted dumplings, range from $8 to $11, while more substantial rice- and meat-laden selections reach $14 to $18 a pop. But during two seatings a night at the by-reservation stools parked in front of the totally open kitchen, patrons can give the chefs carte blanche to spin out whatever they like.

Expect to encounter tender chicken siu mai soaked in savory black bean sauce; puffy shrimp lacquered in tangy-sweet XO sauce; smoked catfish and sweet peas nestled into squid ink fried rice; bulgogi-style rib eye tossed with glutinous rice cake noodles and crisp bean sprouts; and falling-to-pieces Wagshal’s brisket and pickled hot peppers heaped atop steamed rice doctored with smoky-sweet compound butter.

“If people leave here hungry, we’re not doing our jobs,” Kim said of the parade of proteins that are delivered in shiny steel bowls, along with a mini-tower of the vinegary, numbing spiced accompaniments. The founders said daily specials could enter the rotation at any time.

According to Drewno the next step is adding brunch, which he expects to happen within “a few weeks.” After that the group wants to get delivery service going.

Status: Certified open. 423 Eighth Street SE; website.

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