Debuting a new restaurant to a crush of Valentine's Day diners with high expectations sounds, well, a little insane.

But after a few pop-ups last month at Living Social's 918 F Street space and two long years of buzz, that's precisely what Daikaya, a Japanese izakaya and ramen restaurant,  will do this Thursday. The restaurant was built from scratch in what was once a vacant alley at 705 Sixth St. NW in Chinatown, next to Graffiato.

Slug: FD/Vegetarian Date: Feb 20th, 2005 Photographer: Mark Finkenstaedt FTWP Location: Cafe Atlantico, 8th Street NW. Washington, DC Caption: Chef Katsuya Fukushima and some of this vegetarian dishes. Chef Katsuya Fukushima and the Daikaya team (including the restaurant's designers, traveled to Japan for inspiration. (Mark Finkenstaedt for The Post)

For now, Daisuke Utagawa (of Sushiko), Yama Jewayni (an Eighteenth Street Lounge co-founder and onetime Dragonfly partner) and Katsuya Fukushima (late of ThinkFoodGroup, Cashion’s Eat Place and Vidalia) will open only the street level ramen shop, a 40-seat space that will serve four kinds of ramen -- miso, shio (salt), shoyu (soy) and vegan. A bar will offer sake, shochu and cocktails. [Clarification: The bar will be part of the izakaya opening at a later date.] No opening date has been announced for the 90-seat izakaya space that will operate upstairs.

Brian Miller of the bar and restaurant design firm Edit, which made American Ice Company, the Gibson and Rogue 24 such eye candy, is behind Daikaya's look, so you can bet it'll be gorgeous. So far, plans hint at a relatively open kitchen that will give diners in the ramen shop a full view of the action.

Willing to brave the crowds? The shop will be open Thursday from 5 to 11 p.m.