ChiKo — Lunch on 6 November 2019



The original ChiKo, an upscale-casual restaurant that “pair[s] modern cooking techniques with traditional Chinese and Korean flavors”, opened in Washington in 2017. It was an immediate hit, landing on the Washingtonian’s “100 Very Best Restaurants” list and making it to the semifinalist round for James Beard’s “Best New Restaurant Award”. This year, the owners (aka The Fried Rice Collective) opened a second restaurant near Dupont Circle, about a 10-minute walk from my condo.

I finally tried it last week.



In an obscenity case in the 1960s, Associate Justice Potter Stewart wrote that pornography was hard to define, but that “I know it when I see it”. That line became famous.

I’ve eaten potstickers hundreds of times, but if you’d asked me what it is that makes a potsticker a potsticker, I couldn’t have told you, even though “I know it when I see it”. For the record, a potsticker is a crescent-shaped dumpling filled usually with pork, steamed, and then fried.

The potstickers at ChiKo were hot, but not fiery, which was fine with me.

Cumin Lamb Stir Fry

Cumin Lamb Stir Fry

The Cumin Lamb Stir Fry, with big thick wheat flour noodles and caramelized shallots, could have used a lot more lamb—what was here was barely detectable.

Overall, it was a good meal, but not particularly memorable. My opinion might have been influenced by the view from my table at the window. New Dynasty, my go-to Chinese restaurant for cheap eats, was across the street, and a satisfactory lunch there costs about a third of the price of my meal at ChiKo.

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