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An Anticipated Spanish-Japanese Restaurant Opens Next Month in Penn Quarter

Cranes is scheduled to start serving dinner Saturday, February 8

A Spaniard’s take on seasonal kaiseki plates debuts in Penn Quarter next month.
Rey Lopez/Cranes
Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

Cranes, a high-end small plates place that focuses on the atypical combination of Spanish and Japanese cooking techniques, will open next month in Penn Quarter. The anticipated restaurant announced today that Saturday, February 8, will be its first night.

Chef Pepe Moncayo’s first U.S. restaurant replaces the sprawling, 12,000-square-foot space that formerly housed Ruth’s Chris at 724 Ninth Street NW. The native Spaniard’s prix-fixe menu will feature a rotating selection of “Spanish kaiseki” plates made out of Mid-Atlantic ingredients. Kaiseki refers to multiple course tasting menus in Japan that draw from specific seasons and environments.

“A mentor told me [wherever] you go, find ingredients that are the freshest and best you can get,” Moncayo told Eater last year. “I don’t believe in recipes that work everywhere.”

Moncayo moved to D.C. a year ago following a 10-year stint in Singapore, where he opened a popular omakase-style restaurant called Bam!

A steamed bun houses beef short-rib, ikura (salmon roe), avocado, and sea grapes.
Rey Lopez/Cranes
An octopus dish at Cranes.
Rey Lopez/Cranes

Cranes boasts a 50-seat bar and sake lounge, a 175-seat raised dining area, an open kitchen, and a private dining room for 25. It will open daily, offer a weekday happy hour, and eventually serve lunch.

Examples of Japanese-Spanish dishes include a baby shrimp torta with aioli and tamarind romesco or a nameko mushroom rice with burrata that comes alongside a salad of enoki mushrooms, shallots, and porcini oil. Fried baby squid with soft-boiled egg, chorizo, and white onion puree is another dish. Ponzu and espelette pepper stand in for mignonette in a dish of fresh oysters.

Cranes pastry chef Jonni Scott, who hails from Junction Bakery and Bistro, will make dishes like a yuzu tart that pairs with yellow tea from China.

Instead of wine, the restaurant will offer optional sake pairings. Daikaya Group alum Monica Lee curated a sake collection that includes rare Japanese labels like Yamada “Everlasting Roots” Tokubetsu Junmai.

The chef’s resume includes working under three-Michelin star Catalan chef Santi Santamaria at Santi in Singapore, Can Fabes, and EVO. He worked as executive chef at two-Michelin-starred Dos Cielos with Javier and Sergio Torres.