Our time in DC is rapidly coming to an end, and we’ve been on a mission to make a most of every single minute. In between packing and generally freaking out over to-do lists, we’ve spent a lot of time with friends and family. To make the most of our limited time, we’ve been on several friend dates at DC restaurants we couldn’t leave without trying. We’ve had dinner with friends at Little Serow (it was so fantastic) and newly opened Unconventional Diner (really good as well). We also met up with my foodie partner-in-crime Lauren for a feast at CHIKO.
CHIKO has been high on my must-try list since it opened this summer. This trendy and quirky fast casual joint combines Chinese and Korean flavors as imagined by culinary masterminds Danny Lee of Mandu and Scott Drewno of the Source.
While the vibe is decidedly casual – you order at the counter and get a number – the food is next-level. Since we knew we likely wouldn’t be able to visit again before leaving DC, we went all out and sampled most of the menu. Luckily, since most items are very well-priced, this didn’t break the bank. Plus, we had tons of leftovers for the next day.
We started off with the full monty, a sampler of snacky goodies. This spread is an explosion of umami goodness and fermented flavors. My favorites were the turmeric pickled daikon and potato and egg salad. Tom and Lauren particularly enjoyed the marinated littleneck clams. There was actually plenty here for one person to make a full meal, were they so inclined.
Some of our other favorites included the day’s special of fried Brussels Sprouts, the pork and kimchi pot stickers, the “shrimp and grits” and the cumin lamb stir fry.
There were so many fun flavor and texture combinations in these dishes. We especially loved the rice porridge in the shrimp and grits and the tender lamb and noodles in the stir fry.
Our votes were split on the chilled acorn noodles. I loved the fresh, crunch veggies and spicy Gochujang, but Tom and Lauren were underwhelmed.
We also sampled the double fried chicken wings, which were quite tasty. But in a city saturated with spicy chicken wings, they didn’t stand out. The crispy chicken spring rolls were the only dish in our order we could have done without. They lacked flavor, although the crunchy exterior was nice.
Overall, it was a wonderful and easygoing experience. CHIKO is doing the damn thing, and I’m glad we got a taste before leaving the district.
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