Chiko co-owner Scott Drewno promises that the second D.C. location of the inventive Chinese and Korean counter won’t stray far from the dishes that built up its following for the past year and a half.
After officially opening with a Valentine’s Day prix fixe last night, Chiko’s Dupont Circle spot will welcome walk-ins for dinner tonight with a menu that’s “about 75 percent” the same as the original in Capitol Hill, Drewno says.
The new restaurant at 2029 P Street NW will begin serving lunch in a few weeks after the new kitchen finds it footing. That will represent the biggest departure from Chiko’s standard operating procedure in Southeast. But one change guests can see right away is the addition of a dish that Drewno has been thinking about since the start.
Chiko Dupont will serve a shrimp toast, but it won’t look like anything that comes off a dim sum cart. Drewno’s stir-fried version will keep the seafood and bread separate. He prepares the shrimp in a “velvet” marinade — a Chinese technique that incorporates egg whites, corn starch, and vinegar — before passing them through a wok with XO paste, garlic, and scallions.
Instead of being smeared on straight-up white bread, the shrimp gets paired with toasted Ciabatta dressed with a chile oil and roasted sesame butter. The menu board places a miniature ampersand between “shrimp” and “toast.”
Once lunch service begins, Drewno says the Dupont store will roll out sandwiches including co-owner Danny Lee’s bulgogi hoagie and Korean fried chicken as well as a lamb burger that Drewno’s been developing.
The four-seat tasting menu counter will stick to the “Eat the Menu” format full of Chiko’s signature dishes — think orange-ish chicken, cumin lamb stir fry with wheat noodles, and Wagshal’s chopped brisket with soy-brined eggs over rice. Over in Capitol Hill, Chiko has revamped its bargain format to incorporate large dishes fit for imperial royalty.
Last year, Chiko also expanded to San Diego, where partner Drew Kim has located to oversee operations.