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Daikaya Izakaya, Chef Katsuya Fukushima Comes From Cafe Atlantico - 6th and G Street in Chinatown

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My boyfriend and I stopped into Daikaya Friday night without reservations hoping to get a table. At about 8:15pm, we were quoted a 45 minute wait. Fortunately, seats opened up at the bar after a few minutes so we started ordering. We mainly stuck to our usual order but for reasons I cannot explain, the food was much better than the last time we were there. It was as if the food was made with more care and attention to detail and that those making the food enjoyed making it.

The standout of the evening was the grilled avocado, the enoki mushrooms, the crab croquettes, and the tuna poke. We left completely stuffed with a bill around $80 for the two of us which included tax, tip, and two beers.

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Hubby and I went to the ramen section Sunday.  I had the shoyu and MK had the miso version with the peanuts (I forget the name).  His broth was really good, but I am not sure I would want a whole bowl of it, maybe just a little too rich, while I loved the whole bowl I had of porky, egg, noodle goodness.  The broth was deep and I really liked it.  We watched them make  a vegetable ramen which looked great too.  I also would like to try the spicy one, but was giving my stomach a reprieve after Saturday night Bangladeshi food.  Anyway not a ramen expert by any means, but I enjoyed my dish a lot.  Although if they poached an egg instead of the soft boiled egg it would be even better (thank stupid Toki Underground for getting me hooked on that).

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I am glad that I didn't re-read the decidedly mixed reviews, above, before dinner last night.

The food was delicious, the service was just the right degree of friendly, nothing felt rushed, and the music and vibe were great.

Totally agree that it is not at all like going to Seki - which is "better" in many ways, but really a completely different type of experience in terms of what it does to your head and heart.

But when you can get an old-fashioned-with-pony-MillerHighLife for $10 (special), and things like those fried little potatoes, grilled avocado, fried garlic, a neat yam special (described aptly by the server as a cross between a white yam and okra) - Daikaya is also something to be thankful for.

I realized yesterday how much things have changed.  In the morning I passed City Lights of China and remembered that when I moved here nearly twenty years ago, this seemed like good Chinese food to us.  Now it is so easy to say "this izakaya is not quite what I want in an izakaya ..."  Not to say that we shouldn't parse and even criticize when warranted, but we prosperous eaters are very fortunate these days.

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My boyfriend and I hit pause on our frequent Daikaya visits back in August because we realized the menu hadn't changed in a while and we always ended up ordering the same few dishes and the two of us wanted to switch things up for a few months. After a two month absence, we ended up back at Daikaya with one of the boyfriend's co-workers last night. I am so glad we did because we ended up having one of the best meals there in quite some time. Best of all, we ordered lots of new dishes and didn't lean on some of our "crutch" dishes.

There was an extensive list of specials, both printed and not printed and our meal was mainly composed of the specials although we also ordered from the regular menu. We started off with a miso soup with mussels which I happily got all to myself since the other two at the table are either allergic to or don't care for mussels. Tasted just like one would expect and the mussels gave the soup a much richer broth. Also, from the unwritten specials we ordered a deep fried mackerel collar with cheeks and eyeballs. My boyfriend happily attacked this dish and the bites I had were delicious. The fish was served with tamari sauce on the side but I felt it overpowered the fish and preferred it without the tamari.

From the printed specials list we enjoyed the "Rocky Balboa" which is a poached egg, cured roe, and uni in ponzu sauce. This was amazing and we were all fighting over the dish. We also loved the broccoli rabe, which was steamed and came in a dark sauce (ponzu? tamari?), skewered chicken skins, and mushrooms and tofu dishes from the specials. The one special that we didn't care for were the pork rinds, though in fairness we all expressed ambivalence for pork rinds in general but then proceeded to order them. Also, we ordered so much food, we just gravitated towards things we preferred and the pork rinds were left alone.

From the regular menu we had two orders of the grilled avocado which was spectacular as usual. We also ordered the chicken kara-age, which was better than a previous order and I think brought my boyfriend around to the idea of ordering these again in the future. The last time we ordered these, he just felt it was nothing more special than chicken nuggets but he really enjoyed the kara-age this time around. I think the difference is that after mentioning that my boyfriend doesn't like mayo, the chicken kara-age was served with a side of mustard dipping sauce rather than the kewpie mayo and chili sauce. Our friend had one of the onigiri balls which he thoroughly enjoyed. Finally, our great waiter, Tom, brought out an order of the brussels sprouts okonomiyaki style for us to try. We all really enjoyed this and were left wondering why we don't this more frequently.

Overall, a wonderful time. The food was inventive and creative and reminded me of the first few times I went to Daikaya and was getting wowed by nearly every dish I tried. The service was friendly and fantastic. Dinner just reminded us why we were going to Daikaya so often earlier this year. Hope to have more of these experiences ahead.

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Went before the Stevie Wonder concert here recently.

Fried and pickled garlic - good but not amazing

Grilled avocado - nice and delicious!

Smashed potatoes - solid

eggplant & yogurt and lamb - this was a dud

miso salmon - yes, great

chicken liver skewer - perfect

chicken skin skewer - nice, could have be a smidgen crispier though

pork & brussel sprouts skewer - yum, really good

nigiri rice balls - ratio was way too much rice to the good stuff inside. Flavor was fine, but meh

hambagu with egg - ok, this was ridiculously good. I cannot imagine not ordering this every time I go there.

The service is a little sparse when you want to order more, but friendly. It's hard to move around there when it is crowded. It is loud. The chairs are not really comfortable, but you're not really going to be there THAT long, unless you get pretty drunk, which is easy with all of the sake and japanese (scotch) whiskey. Their ginger beer is very good, but more of a pickled ginger beer.

I'll be back.

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Went before the Stevie Wonder concert here recently.

...

I'll be back.

Say hi next time!

We also ate here before the DJ Tick Tick Boom show.  We actually had the opposite service issue, with a long wait to take our original order, but no problem getting additional stuff.  We chalked this up to an unexpected rush ahead of Stevie, so wouldn't hold it against them.

The pork and brussels sprouts skewers had some of the best brussels sprouts I've ever eaten.  Everything else was pretty good with the exception of a cabbage dish that featured whole uncut cabbage leaves.  Not an easy thing to eat when you only have chopsticks.

Mixed drinks were on the sweet side, but I enjoy the shochu list is nice and the bartenders are happy to chat about them.

My buddy claims he saw the very pregnant backup singer at the bar before the show, but I'm not sure I believe him.

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I've been spending a fair amount of time at Daikaya upstairs recently, Jamie MacBain is the bev manager now.  So categorically, you can't really go wrong with drinks.

Food wise, I'm partial to the Rocky ($9), which basically has 5 or 6 types of eggs (chicken, salmon, flying fish, caviar, uni, others?) in this dashi.  Awesome.  Chawan mushi is great as well.  I like the spaghetti with caviar too.  Staff favorites are chicken skin on a skewer ($2).  There is also a grilled octopus that I really like.  Pickled cherry blossom rice cake is nice too.

Trying to think of misses.  None really spring to mind.  I have personal preferences against donburis, and I'm not a big fan of their Filipino dishes either (but I'm picky there).  I have been remiss in sharing my experiences there.

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Any recent suggestions on things to order/not to order?

The grilled avocado and fried garlic are two things my boyfriend and I almost always get when we go to Daikaya. I also enjoy the beef tongue and the pork and brussels sprouts from the skewers section. The chicken kara-age is great and I like to round things out with an order of the soy and seaweed onigiri. I like the creamy tuna poke but my boyfriend doesn't care for the mayo.

I agree with DaRiv18 that the Pancit Udon was a miss, at least for me. And while the shishito peppers weren't bad, they are basically similar to every other plate of shishito pepper you can get around town except with an egg.

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So we went Friday night.  I really enjoyed the Drunk Kitty cocktail and the tea cocktail, I forget the name.  I also had the house sake.  We ordered some things, but they were out of a bunch of items I wanted to try- the angry wings, the grilled oyster and one other special.  I ended up having the chicken kara-age, which was good- a nice version of chicken fingers and I love chicken fingers.  I got a special which was octopus salad in dashi broth that I really enjoyed.  Mk got the smashed pee wee potatoes which I ate most of, those were good, I liked the accompaniments more than the potatoes, but again it was good, just not exciting.  I did get the grilled avocado, this was my second favorite dish after the octopus, it was lovely.  The salt grilled makeral was good and a little more traditional.  Mk got the beef and broccoli skewer which I didn't try but he said it was good, tasted like beef and broccoli.  He ended up getting the pancit udon, it was ok, but I didn't love it.  I also got the "taco" which was a rice bowl with essentially chili on top, which did make for good drinking food.  We ordered edamame which didn't come out for a long time, they ended up bringing out dessert menus and we ordered the cheery blossom soft serve.  I thought they would either time the edamame to come out first or they didn't put the order in, when the runner came out our server asked us if we still wanted it, apologized for the delay and we politely declined. The service was really good, there are some weird timing issues on the food.  I would have thought edamame would be one of the first things out.  I think in the end MK ended up liking the ramen part more than the izakaya, but we didn't order very traditional things, maybe he would have liked that more.  I thought it was fun, but for a casual place to eat while drinking it is fairly expensive, so the vibe just didn't seem to match up that well with the price, but I would go back and try some other things.  It just won't be a place I go to often.  

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Had a thoroughly enjoyable lunch here this week as much due to the company as the food.

Wanted to post because most of the reports upthread are about dinner and the lunch is a different, simpler and maybe more Americanized menu (for lack of a surely better label). At $14, the pork katsu Don was neither a phenomenal value or expensive but very satisfying. This may be the only place in DC I've seen that pours a miso soup table side like a 5-star might do with an especially complex consommé.

And, look what I found after the main dishes cleared! Not quite as "fresh off the roast" as you'd get from Joel directly but, for a restaurant, not too old by any means and way better than most given the beans and that they grind and brew (French press) to order.

post-2258-0-57011000-1430515065_thumb.jp

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MichaelBDC and I had another very good meal at Daikaya last night. We mostly stuck with our favorites, which can either be good choice (dishes we like done just as we like them) or a not so good choice (tired cooking from the kitchen) and last night was squarely in the "good choice" camp. We started with a few specials that included braised beets with pickled green strawberries. The dish was served cold and the beets and green strawberries turned out to be a fresh and welcome starter dish on a very hot and humid evening. We followed that up with a grilled head of saba served with a tamari dipping sauce. MichaelBDC, the proclaimed lover of face meat, really enjoyed the dish, as did I but not as much as he did. We then moved over to the regular menu and had our usual grilled avocado and fried garlic which were great as always. Next, we had the chicken kara age (we asked for and received a mustard dipping sauce rather than the chili mayo that the chicken was served with, the pork and Brussels sprouts okonomayaki and two servings of the abura miso onigiro ball. The chicken kara age and the pork and Brussels sprouts are the two dishes that can be middling at times, but last night they were as good as ever. The chicken was fresh out of the fryer and were incredibly hot but also light on the batter and the frying. The abura miso onigiri was my favorite of the night. The salty pork seemed to melt into the hot rice. It was a welcome comfort dish despite the hot weather outside.

I am really glad to have this place in the neighborhood. Between the downstairs ramen and upstairs izakaya, Daikaya, more than any other restaurant in the area, is our go to spot for a fun and delicious meal when we don't want to go far.

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The french toast here (brunch menu only, obviously) is my favorite in the city, consistency and the taste of a toasted marshmallow.  Just one of those random things you find here.

eatruneat, you make it sound like you consider it a neighborhood spot, but boy I think it of it as a worthy destination.  Maybe I have bistro-fatigue and am less tolerant of many other venues, and admittedly I haven't experienced any inevitable "tired cooking" here yet, but generally I find the food here to be excellent.  A new personal favorite is the spicy beef tongue ($4).  Drinks here are also vast and varied.

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I've been both here and at Two Amy's several times in the past two weeks as we contemplate moving into another school district, and I gotta say that Daikaya (when regarded as a combined entity) may be the closest thing to Two Amy's in Penn Quarter and beyond.  Both offer their staples, pizza and ramen, that for my money are my personal faves in the city.  You can certainly just order one of those and be done with it.  But each place also has some of the best small plates, to my taste, in the city.  And both have extremely strong beverage programs.

Two Amy's definitely has more of a neighborhoody feel, and Daikaya can range from the somewhat hipster to the first-datey.  But along with Boundary Road, maybe Rappahannock at UM, and *gasp* Sally's Middle Name, they are some of the least pretentious/highest quality venues where I feel totally comfortable showing up as-is.  No doubt there are other places that I don't frequent as much that share these qualities (e.g. Etto), but I feel Daikaya is really hitting on all cylinders right now.  Expansion will come soon for this outfit, and Momofuku will soon hit its stride too I'm sure, but I never leave disappointed.

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DaRiv:  Are you speaking of the ramen joint or the izakaya?  Because generally speaking what you can get upstairs you can't find downstairs, and vice versa.

I've been both here and at Two Amy's several times in the past two weeks as we contemplate moving into another school district, and I gotta say that Daikaya (when regarded as a combined entity) may be the closest thing to Two Amy's in Penn Quarter and beyond.  Both offer their staples, pizza and ramen, that for my money are my personal faves in the city.  You can certainly just order one of those and be done with it.  But each place also has some of the best small plates, to my taste, in the city.  And both have extremely strong beverage programs.

Two Amy's definitely has more of a neighborhoody feel, and Daikaya can range from the somewhat hipster to the first-datey.  But along with Boundary Road, maybe Rappahannock at UM, and *gasp* Sally's Middle Name, they are some of the least pretentious/highest quality venues where I feel totally comfortable showing up as-is.  No doubt there are other places that I don't frequent as much that share these qualities (e.g. Etto), but I feel Daikaya is really hitting on all cylinders right now.  Expansion will come soon for this outfit, and Momofuku will soon hit its stride too I'm sure, but I never leave disappointed.

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DaRiv:  Are you speaking of the ramen joint or the izakaya?  Because generally speaking what you can get upstairs you can't find downstairs, and vice versa. 

By "when regarded as a combined entity", what I was attempting to mean was both the ramen and izakaya together.  It's true, you can't really get anything from the other (except for maybe upstairs sake when slurping downstairs).  If you have a party where people want sychronized dining from the different menus, then it won't fly.  But you can start upstairs, put your name in for downstairs, and get the best of both worlds (which is the approach of many of their guests).

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MichaelBDC and I were able to grab two seats at the bar on a Friday earlier this month. It had been another long absence since our last time there and we ended up ordering too much food between our desires to order off the specials and re-visit some old favorites. Unfortunately, I can't remember everything we ate that evening but highlights include the carrot and kimchi Bolognese with udon noodles and a fried fish of some sort that was a play on fish and chips. Both enjoyable and fun dishes that show off the creativity and skill of the kitchen. From the regular menu we went with the usuals: grilled avocado, chicken kara age, abura miso onigiri, Brussels sprouts okonomayaki style, fried garlic, and the rocky. We enjoyed all of them very much, especially the chicken kara age. There might be places with better food, more refined cooking, or more hype, but in my opinion, Daikaya is the funnest place to eat and drink.

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Hung out at the bar for a quick happy hour snack before a Wizards game. The bar was buzzing for a chilly Wednesday night; dining area, not as much..Had a taste of their draft moscow mule ($6 HH special), which tasted like yuzu-infused Hawaiian punch, with nary a taste of alcohol. Also, not sure how you can call something a mule but not serve it in a copper mug. In any case, I would skip this drink and stick to their draft beer specials. I had the Victory black forest cake stout with cherry, which tastes exactly like it sounds. 

Bar snacks were...interesting. A miso-glazed camembert dish was literally a small wedge of cheese with 5 ritz crackers..and that is it. I mean, even for $6, this was an insult, when i could order a yakitori skewer for $3/$4. I have no idea how a professional kitchen could ever serve something so pathetic looking. On the other hand, the kimchi wrapped porkbelly was beautifully presented and looked a piece of meat nigiri. Albeit, it was only a single piece and felt really out of place next to that sad cheese dish. Simply put, skip the bar snack specials and stick to the regular izakaya menu, which is already at a low price point anyway due to the small portion sizes. 

 

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My not-so-little cousin started school at Georgetown and between the subpar cafeteria at Georgetown and instructions to call me whenever she is within a half mile radius of our place, @MichaelBDC and I were able to take her out to dinner at Daikaya last night before she went to see Michelle Obama at the Capital One Center. Between our frequent visits to Bantam King and Daikaya Ramen, we had left Daikaya Izakaya out of the rotation, but it seemed like a great place to take a hip teen. 

We ordered all our favorites and then some: grilled avocado (x2), pork and brussels sprouts okonomiyaki (x2), fried chicken skin, beef tenderloin (x2), the rock balboa, chicken karaage, fried garlic (now a special), takoyaki dashi, and abura miso onigiri (x2). For the most part, food was very good. Chicken karaage could have been executed better, especially because one piece was essentially fried chicken skin. I love chicken skin as much as the next gal, but the piece I had was basically deep fried flour and nearly burnt. The beef tenderloin, while cooked well, needed more seasoning. Otherwise, everything was very very good. The three of us left full and the bill was "only" $87, which we felt was a pretty good deal. We had really missed the avocado and the onigiri and there were a few other things on the menu we had wanted to order, so we won't wait too long before our next visit. 

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Hit up the izakaya recently. Enjoyed most of it. Stand outs were the beef tongue and the chicken kara-age, but enjoyed everything else too. Except the cacio e pepe udon - that was bland, boring and mushy and even on first taste. Very weak dish.

Interesting and extensive selections of Japanese beer, whiskys and so on. Rather uninspired cocktail choices overall so I passed. Acceptable by the glass selections of wine though, which is a plus. I'll be back.

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