There are at least two reasons you want to acquaint yourself with Zannchi: Its Korean repertoire adds a dash of diversity to Georgetown, and its mandu, available steamed or fried, represent one of the best bargains around.
Six bucks gets you two fat dumplings, swollen with fluffy ground pork and scallions, and shaped with a “handle” that makes them look like kettlebells from the gym. Eat both dumplings, and you might not have room for further exploration of the list. (So take one home, or, better yet, share.)
Zannchi popped up in March and marks the effort of Eunjung Kim, a May recipient of an MBA from Georgetown University. The 40-seat dining room is her debut restaurant, although not her first time serving meals to strangers. In her native Korea, Kim’s family owns a small chain of eateries called MyungDong, from which she borrowed the recipe for Zannchi’s eye-catching mandu.
The menu is small: a handful of what are described as “tapas,” including an elegant cheese omelet presented as finger food, plus a dozen rice bowls and kimbap, or rolls. The bowls are represented by a classic bibimbap that sputters on its way to the table and impresses the recipient with its cover of peppery crumbled beef, crisp bean sprouts, julienned carrot and sunny egg. The rolls include caramelized kimchi bound in rice and dried seaweed, a pungent meatless repast. Kim expects to be able to pour beer and wine next month. Yet there’s no missing alcohol when meals can be washed back with Zannchi’s refreshing house-made fruit drinks, one of which stars pineapple and orange juices swirled with fresh mint.
Your order might show up all at once, yet plates might be slow to be cleared. The service, in other words, could use some polishing. The room, on the other hand, shows attention. Slate-blue banquettes and wood-trimmed windows make a minimalist statement that’s balanced with whimsy near the entrance: a display of golden plates cascading from ceiling to floor.
Zannchi translates from Korean to “feast,” a billing that suits this small pleasure, a genial addition to its neighborhood.
1529 Wisconsin Ave. NW. 202-621-9162. zannchi.com. Rolls and bowls, $9 to $17.50.