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Hazel, Neighborhood Restaurant Group’s newest spot, makes its debut in Shaw

Chef Rob Rubba's gnocchi bokki, an Italian-Korean mashup at the new Hazel. (Rey Lopez)

Name: Hazel
Vitals: 808 V St. NW. 202-847-4980.
Neighborhood: Shaw
Description: Contemporary fare with a global influence
Ambiance: Urban-cool hangout or date night
Previously: N/A
Owner: Neighborhood Restaurant Group
Chef: Rob Rubba
Open: Dinner daily beginning Monday (reservations now available on OpenTable)

The food

Like the late Tallula in Arlington, Hazel is a Neighborhood Restaurant Group property with chef Rob Rubba in the kitchen. Other than the participation of NRG's beverage team, the similarities pretty much end there. The setting is different but perhaps more significantly, so is the food. Rubba has changed gears from primarily American to more globally influenced fare, which also reflects his personal life. Rubba's wife is Korean, and "we've had an Asian mashup pantry for over 10 years." One dish that reflects the culinary marriage: The gnocchi bokki, Rubba's riff on a typical Korean rice cake dish with chili sauce that he first cooked up when he was stranded at his home one day without any tomato sauce. The version at Hazel will feature a pork-kimchi ragu and smoked pecorino.

"Everything is designed to be shared," Rubba said of the Hazel menu, much of which will be plated on custom tableware by local studio Cloud Terre. The dishes are "appetizer-plus," or more of a middle size, and the chef said a typical order would be two to three per person. Other options include foie gras served with toasted slices of zucchini bread (using Rubba's grandmother's recipe), hamachi crudo and crispy chickpea tofu with a Sichuan lamb sauce.

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Rubba will also offer two large-format options, called the "Lazy Susan" dinners for the specially made spinning apparatuses on which they will be served. The Duck Duck dinner ($50 per person) will consist of a variety of preparations from a whole duck, including a Peking breast, crispy wings and confit fried rice. The Chef's 7 dinner ($46 per person) is a, you guessed it, seven-dish meal that Rubba said will let him try out new and different dishes, since he doesn't expect a lot of turnover other than seasonally on the a la carte menu.

Desserts from NRG executive pastry chef Naomi Gallego lean a bit Asian as well. There's a black sesame panna cotta with sesame pound cake, and cotton cheesecake with yuzu coconut sorbet. That cheesecake is a Japanese specialty, Rubba said, so named for its light, melt-in-your-mouth texture.

The drinks

Wines and beer as curated by beverage directors Brent Kroll and Greg Engert, respectively. There will be 20 wines by the glass and 60 bottles from less appreciated regions such as Georgia and Serbia. There will be 25 beers by the glass, including 12 on draft, and 75 by the bottle, coming from around the local area, country and world. Cocktails, created by Rubba and Peter Koll, are divided into "delicate" (aperitif style) and "complex" (savory, herbal, spiced) categories.

The space

Hazel has a 38-seat dining room, a 16-seat bar and a 38-seat patio. The interior, created by Catherine Hailey Design, is flooded with natural light, punctuated with dark wood (spot the banister spindles on the divider between the bar and dining area) and tiles. A "layered pop collage" by creative director Kris Mullins takes up a large portion of the wall in the dining room, somewhat reminiscent of the flyers posted at the nearby 9:30 Club. Don't forget to look up at the stunning light fixtures by artist Rick Singleton. The somewhat enclosed patio is a mix of furniture for lounging and dining, enlivened by a stretch of bright green faux grass.

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