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Yaku, Chinese-Peruvian in Courthouse - Closed

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I walked by Yaku today. It has a sign that there's a private party tonight, and they're opening to the public tomorrow. They didn't have a menu posted.

Some previous discussion:

Has any one heard about the restaurant Yaku being built on the first floor of the Odyssey Condos?

It is apparently going to be Peruvian and Chinese, are there any other restaurants serving this type of food in the area? I don't think I have ever heard of that type of food, any speculation on what they will serve?

The City Paper had an interesting article last year about Javier Angeles-Beron, a chef who would have been a chef and partner at Yaku but had left Latin Concepts.

This past May, the Washington Business Journal also had an article about the upcoming Yaku and said: "Fraga-Rosenfeld brought Chef Gisela Laos from Peru, where she ran a culinary school, to oversee Yaku's menu, which is still being finalized. He said it will likely include some of the Latin fare offered at his other restaurants, along with a mix of Chinese noodle dishes, known as 'tallarines,' stir-fries and soups."

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anyone been here yet?

Went there Friday night with a friend. Pretty space, moderately crowded. We shared 6 of their (small) appetizers, tuna tartar, a scallop special, crispy salmon roll, squid, lettuce wraps and fried rice. The dishes were fresh-tasting and pretty good, drinks were excellent also and they appear to have a large wine selection by the glass. We were very pleasantly surprised by the price point. They have an outdoor patio that was crowded. We would definately return. They are going for a younger/hip vibe, pretty clearly. I think it will succeed long-term, though it is in a somewhat out of the way location for the Courthouse/Clarendon throngs, notwithstanding the Clarendon Blvd. location.

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In his article last month, Tim Carman said the opening chef was replaced with Ismael Otarola. I went there soon after it opened. I'm curious about it again with the change in chef and danfishe's report.

Laos Mejia’s lack of experience in a working kitchen proved to be her downfall, and in short order, Fraga-Rosenfeld replaced her with Ismael Otarola, the Latin Concepts executive chef in charge of all restaurants, including Ceviche and Mate.
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A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of moving from Reston to the Courthouse area of Arlington. With a relocation to a new & unfamiliar area, I was excited at the chance to sample my new neighbor restaurants and develop my go-to list. Aside from Rays & The Italian Store, I knew absolutely nothing about the non-chain scene here.

Decided to try Yaku last week. The meal, and the experience as a whole was simply fabulous. First, the decor. The local operating company, Latin Concepts, is known for blending dining spaces with chic lounge & nightlife space. A concept that hasn't worked so well with other similar ideas in the city (nightlife/dining combo.) Yaku is definitely more food-focused, and the bar is secondary, a contrast to their other properties such as Gazuza & Maté. The design is modern & elegant with an open 2-level room, walls of glass & dramatic pendant lights. The bar area is off to the side with the obligatory flat-screen, but along the rear wall of the bar area is an 18 bottle (at least) by-the-glass "Cruvinet" wine system. Membership cards are available, and you swipe your card at the machine- your account is debited for your choosing of a 1, 3, or 6 ounce pour. Kinda gimmicky, but cool none-the-less. There's also a huge patio at the front which I can imagine will be host to a lot of my summer happy hours.

The food is a trendy latin-asian "fusion." A word that has become cliche, but it's well executed here and quite delicious. I had the tuna tartar with cucumber & a soy-lime drizzle, and the "Lomo Saltado" as an entree. Medallions of beef tenderloin with rice and red onion & cherry tomatoes cooked in a soy/vinegar sauce. The meat was perfectly cooked and seasoned and the sauce was amazing with the rice. I'll be back for this dish alone if nothing else. All of the entrees range from $16-$18 dollars, which is a surprisingly good value considering the ambiance, environment & service. I cannot stand when restaurants overprice their food to compensate for other financial "moments of poor judgment".

About the service, friendly & attentive- although the restaurant was fairly empty when we were there on a Thursday night. The staff is attractive and well... sexy. It's not the most formal service, and it's where the company's nightlife roots are apparent. However, non-formal doesn't = non-efficient, I felt well taken care of. The manager, casually dressed, came by twice to check on us.

I feel like after writing a review like this, I should disclose that I am not an employee of this restaurant or company, and I don't have any friends who work there either. This restaurant's location is tucked between the busy areas of Courthouse (where Rays & everything else is) and Rosslyn, and can easily go overlooked. It's worth a trip over-the-bridge, and will definitely be on my regular list here in Arlington.

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