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ChiKo - Danny Lee, Scott Drewno, and Drew Kim's Chinese-Korean Fast-Casual Chain - Barracks Row and Dupont Circle


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Went last night to ChiKo in Barracks. I had been interested in going, but just don't get to that area as much these days. It's "Chipotle-esque" inside, industrial look, done quite well. There isn't a whole lot of seating, you get in line, take a number and then hope a table opens up. 

There were 3 of us, so we went to town ordering. It's small plates-ish, but some of the items could definitely make a good size for lunch. It's not Chipotle as in customizable - you order items that are being continuously made fresh in the open kitchen. 

- Double fried chicken wings - spicy soy glazed - expertly fried, just a bit sweet for me, compared to BC, but these come right of the fryer and perfect crunch

- Pork and kim chi poststicker - really tasty, with a nice dipping sauce

- Kimchi stew - with pork belly, subtle, not very hard core on the kim chi, but well done

- Smashed salmon - with squash and korean red chili paste ... very good

- Wagshal's chopp'd brisket - this came most highly recommended by the staff member, but it was not the most loved - I didn't try it, since I don't eat the beef, there's a soft egg and you mix it in.

- Cumin lamb stir fry - with wheat noodles... this was one of my favorite dishes I've had in DC in a long time, really well prepped, noodles had good chew (not sure if made in house), spicy but not terribly so, braised tender lamb, pretty much everyone's favorite

- Chiko "shrimp and grits" - another WOW dish! Congee and garlic-sauced shrimp, so tasty. I think maybe I liked this better than the lamb. 

- Wok blistered Chinese broccoli - greens, a palate cleanser, done differently than at Chinese restaurants - it has thicker stems

$125 for 3 of us, including one adult beverage each. Not really "fast-casual" - it takes a bit of time to get your food, as it is made to order, and it's not exactly cheap to get full for dinner (what we had was a good amount, we finished almost all of it and were comfortably full). But, high quality. I really like it - I would go back for that lamb stir fry. The ingredients are all really good compared to most Asian places, I think that's why everything just tasted "brighter". And, as someone else on Yelp said, it's not really Chinese - Korean fusion - it's Chinese and Korean dishes, all on the same menu.

It's pronounced - "Chi" with a long I sound .. duh - "Chinese Korean". Got corrected when we said chee-ko. 

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5 hours ago, Simul Parikh said:

It's pronounced - "Chi" with a long I sound .. duh - "Chinese Korean". Got corrected when we said chee-ko. 

I would have said the same thing.

Given that "The Fried Rice Collective" consists of Danny Lee, Scott Drewno, and Drew Kim, and that all this experience is funneled into a restaurant flirting with being fast-casual (with 28 seats), and that their own website states, "CHIKO is the first restaurant from The Fried Rice Collective," it's a *very* safe assumption that their business plan is one of growth and expansion.

Screenshot 2017-11-19 at 13.21.07.png

In other words, go now while they're overstaffed to get the best experience.

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On 11/19/2017 at 1:24 PM, DonRocks said:

I would have said the same thing.

Given that "The Fried Rice Collective" consists of Danny Lee, Scott Drewno, and Drew Kim, and that all this experience is funneled into a restaurant flirting with being fast-casual (with 28 seats), and that their own website states, "CHIKO is the first restaurant from The Fried Rice Collective," it's a *very* safe assumption that their business plan is one of growth and expansion.

Screenshot 2017-11-19 at 13.21.07.png

In other words, go now while they're overstaffed to get the best experience.

Chiko will be expanding , and opening up a location in San Diego. Expansion way beyond the Beltway. Congrats to the "The Fried Rice Collective".

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10 minutes ago, curiouskitkatt said:

Chiko will be expanding , and opening up a location in San Diego. Expansion way beyond the Beltway. Congrats to the "The Fried Rice Collective".

Five Guys, SweetGreen ... why not? I'll say this much: Scott Drewno has certainly worked *very* hard in his life.

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57 minutes ago, DonRocks said:

Five Guys, SweetGreen ... why not? I'll say this much: Scott Drewno has certainly worked *very* hard in his life.

What ever they are doing, I dig it. I like how they have infamous Chefs through out the country, as well as local favs "pop" in and cook for the night. My inaugural stop at Chiko was when Sheldon Simeon was in town to lend his influence and cooking chops in the kitchen in the "After Dark" series.  I was hoping to snag a seat at the Chef's counter, but couldn't find anyone to be my +1. It all worked out for the best though. I happen to engage with chatty locals, and convinced a couple to dine with me in order to take advantage of the most the menu had to offer. Waiting in line wasn't so bad considering spam musubi was being passed out to everyone anxiously waiting.  A final bill of $80, this included 3 cocktails, provided an  absolute delicious feast. The most memorable bites were the little neck  clams. One would expect these to be served warm, but oh no, they were served chilled. Briny, spicy, fresh. What an incredible value at $3! Oh, can we talk about that furikake compound butter? So good. 

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Is anyone from this forum interested in joining me on Sept 28 for the After Dark pop up at CHiKo? I hear Jamie Bissonette from Little Donkey (Boston) will be slinging deliciousness in the kitchen that evening. I went solo last time, but thought I would give a shout out on the forum if anyone was interested in possibly joining me. Shoot me a message, or post to this thread. 

Thanks!

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Lunch service in Dupont seems to be going smoothly.

About 26 seats or so...it was about 2/3rds full when I went in around 1:00 today. 

Can't add a lot to the discussion, since I didn't have any of the lunch-specific items, but the kimchi/pork dumplings are delicious, and the cumin lamb is as good as advertised...one of the best dishes I've eaten in a while. 

The lunch bowls looked nice, as did the bulgogi sub...I'll have to go back and try more soon. 

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Went to the Capitol Hill location last Sunday for their kitchen counter.  The food is on par with P.F. Chang (i.e., nothing authentic or delicious, but edible).  One thing not on the menu is their version of Peking duck, which was served with 1 slice of meat attached to the skin and way too much other filling.  The rest of the meat and skin was wasted by being dumped into a fried rice.  Why would anyone waste Peking duck skin by stir frying it with rice and thus making it soggy?  The 9 treasures (another off menu item) include the tiny pancakes and the mustard sauce as 2 items?  The fillings were neither exciting nor tasty.

The kitchen was staffed with 3 hardworking line-cooks, with one working the fryer, one working the stove tops, and one on the wok station.  They worked independently and no one was supervising.  Had I known this was the set-up in advance, I wouldn't have bothered to eat there.  There's no reason to go to a fast-casual outlet for a tasting menu.

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Really delicious lunch today for my first time at this restaurant at the Dupont location. Me and my buddy thought 3 dishes were excellent and the 4th good. The excellent were the half-a-cado salad (which a different friend had recommended as her go to dish that she gets every time she comes) - this was nice as a vegetable, lighter balance to the meatier/spicier other dishes. I agree though with my friend I could easily eat this by myself for a light lunch. Also excellent was the wok friend green beans with the best garlic ssamgjang sauce, and my other favorite was the cumin stir fried lamb noodles - good chewy noodles, lots of tasty lamb (some crispy bits and mostly soft braise) with nice slow creeping heat. The 4th only good was the smoked salmon rice bowl which comes with gochujang on the side. The ingredients were good quality but the flavors weren't as exciting as the other 3 dishes. Also the egg in the rice bowl looked good but wasn't very great - just tasted like hardboiled egg, not the soft soy poached egg I expected and it looked like. Can't wait to go back and try more. The people next to us ordered the huge fried chicken sandwiches - really thick pieces of chicken. Easily enough for 2 to share.  

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Chiko is a pretty good delivery option for dining in the time of the coronavirus. My cousin stopped by to drop off a bunch of stuff after closing down her dorm room for the semester so we ordered Chiko via Caviar for lunch. Between the three of us, we had the pork and kimchi potstickers, cumin lamb stir fry, the crispy chicken rice bowl, and the Sichuan hot fried chicken sandwich. We all enjoyed our food, but I think I enjoyed my chicken sandwich the best. The potstickers were tasty but I would eat nearly any kind of dumpling at anytime so it's a pretty low bar for me. My cousin said she liked her crispy chicken rice bowl. @MichaelBDC thought his cumin lamb stir fry was all right, but in his view, the cumin lamb we make at home is better. Happy to support local businesses during these extraordinary times, so we'll keep them on our list of delivery options while we balance cooking at home and supporting local restaurants.

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I really love Chiko and as long as you can handle some heat it is a great option. It started to get in my regular rotation before Covid and has continued during the pandemic (they have really upped their carryout/delivery game). Still wonderful are the half-a-cado salad (one of the few non-spicy dishes), cumin lamb noodles, and pre-covid I had in-store a great spicy fried chicken sandwich (which was rather large too). Our favorite dish is the brisket rice dish. They take Wagshal's great brisket and season it well and scatter over rice with some veg and a soft-center shoyu egg with some nori slivers. My wife calls it true Jewish fried rice. So good. I've also enjoyed their potato salad and some of their pickle sides. Definitely worth it to bring home these days.

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