One of my favorite chefs in D.C. is Scott Drewno, aka one of those good guys in the restaurant industry. Along with his business partner, Danny Lee (owner of Mandu and a great Korean-American!), Scott and Danny have successfully operated ChiKo in Eastern Market for the last few years.
Recently the team opened a location in Dupont Circle, just down the street from Pizzeria Paradiso. Each of the three times I went to ChiKo Dupont, it was always packed with long lines, proving to me the point that ChiKo is a Chinese/Korean food infusion of fun. Delightful Korean favorites like Bulgogi and Kimchi Chiage anchor more American-friendly items such as Double-Fried Chicken Wings. I swear the Spicy Soy Glazed version of the Double-Fried Chicken Wings has an amazing density and powerfully delicious flavor, which could make anyone a believer in Chinese/Korean hybrid food!
But it's not just Korean and Chinese classic, or even more American friendly food, which makes ChiKo's newest outpost in DuPont so worthy of a visit. The above is the Cumin Lamb Stir Fry and it is certainly the best dish I have had in any restaurant in the DuPont Circle grid. The wheat noodles are thick yet not so dense to become a challenge to eat. The lamb is cooked to falling perfection while the cumin provided just enough heat to make the dish interesting. I loved it so much I went back the very next day to have another round.
ChiKo Dupont also does great happy hour special such as this Kimcini, a blend of the Italian favorite Arancini. Typically, as those of us Silician food fans know, Arancini are stuffed with cheese and rice, shaped into a ball, and then coated with bread crumbs before being deep fried. ChiKo version includes kimchi and the three balls which come together (as photographed above) had a finish so you couldn't really tell it was kimchi but rather a spicy lettuce. I absolutely loved it and, since, it was $5 for three balls I ordered two rounds.
Plus the small venue -- just 28 seats -- has a tremendous energy! I love being in a small space like this with people who love Korean food! Makes me feel like I am back in my parent's home country of Korea eating at one of the countless terrific street food vendors!!