2013 Fall Dining Guide
By Tom Sietsema
October 10, 2013
There are two ways to experience this restaurant across from Verizon Center. Soup nuts stay on the ground floor to sip the broth and slurp the noodles of Sapporo-style ramen in a spare, 40-seat shop. "Your attention should be on the bowl in front of you, not the surrounding design," explains co-owner and Tokyo native Daisuke Utagawa.
The second strategy -- my preferred -- takes diners upstairs to a tavern (izakaya) that is double the size and more colorful, thanks partly to Japanese fabrics on the wall. Customers order from a menu of fried, grilled, steamed and "unique" small plates inserted into Japanese fashion magazines; as with Spanish tapas, the food, from Katsuya Fukushima, comes out when it's ready.
Make sure your table sees Brussels sprouts alternating with pork belly on a skewer dusted with shredded bonito, and cod roe spaghetti made creamy with Japanese mayonnaise. Gouda-stuffed shishito peppers and dry fried chicken take back seats to golden crab croquettes filled with molten seafood chowder and a snack of plump fried garlic cloves so compelling we order a second bowl.
The bar dominates Daikaya, whose names means "house of big cooking pot." Indeed, what appears in a glass intrigues as much as what arrives on a plate; a moss-green cocktail with an undercurrent of tea proves a refreshing twist on a gin rickey.