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A Korean Pub Is Setting Up Shop Inside the Shuttered Mandu Space

Anju will bring grilled meats and soju to 18th Street NW

D.C.’s original Mandu has been dark since its damaging electrical fire last summer, and now it’s getting a second life as a cool Korean bar and grill from Team Chiko, reports Washingtonian.

Danny Lee, who owns the 11-year-old Dupont Circle site (1805 18th Street NW) with his mom Yesoon Lee, is roping in his partners at critically acclaimed Chinese-Korean fusion Chiko on Barracks Row (Fried Rice Collective’s Scott Drewno and Matchbox co-founder Drew Kim) to reopen as Anju.

The new restaurant pays homage to its late-night Anju pop-up series days back in 2014. The name means “food consumed with alcohol,” Lee tells Washingtonian, but it’s also about enjoying drinking food in an upbeat setting. Mandu maintains a second location on 453 K Street NW, which opened in 2011.

Anju’s bar will grow a bit as part of the renovation, serving rice wine-based cocktails, Korean beers, and soju concoctions, alongside an open kitchen with custom wood-fired grills designed for Korean barbecue. Cooked meats will be paired with kimchi and small seasonal sides, and few of Mandu’s greatest hits like bibimbap are expected to make a comeback.

While the downstairs space will cater to walk-ins only, its upstairs component will accommodate reservations and private events. Two exclusive prix-fixe tables will focus on customizable meals and communal feasting around hot pots.

The design, from Lee’s wife Natalie Park, calls for keeping as much of the original brick and exposed wood rafters as possible. Park, who helped bring Matt Baker’s bright and airy Gravitas project in Ivy City to life, plans to install greenery planted in kimchi fermentation pots, adds Washingtonian. Chiko’s rep confirmed the news about Mandu’s replacement and says more details will be available in the coming months.

D.C. is getting another Korean barbecue option next year from Daniel Kramer, co-founder of burger haven Duke’s Grocery, inside the Shay apartment building at 1924 Eighth Street NW.

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