For His Next Act: Daisuke Utagawa's Next Restaurant Venture

The founder of Sushiko has exciting plans—keep an eye out for Daikaya, a soon-to-open izakaya, and Kiji Club, a Japanese-style cocktail bar.

By: Jessica Voelker

Daisuke Utagawa, co-owner of Washington’s oldest sushi restaurant, Sushiko, has a new project in the works with Eighteenth Street Lounge co-owner Yama Jewayni. Look for Daikaya (705 Sixth St., NW), a two-level ramen restaurant and izakaya, to open in Penn Quarter before the end of the year. Utagawa and Jewayni have teamed up with Katsuya Fukushima—a José Andrés protégé who has cooked at Minibar, Café Atlántico, and Jaleo—to oversee the kitchen, and the trio has traveled extensively through Japan. The trip included a visit to the factory in Sapporo that will supply noodles for the ramen—Utagawa says he toyed with the idea of house-made pasta, but nothing could replicate what they tasted in Sapporo, where the soup is traditionally made using a miso broth.

Upstairs at the 90-seat izakaya, Fukushima hopes to recreate the spirit of the snack bars he fell in love with in Japan, where dishes run the gamut from sashimi and yakitori (grilled-meat skewers) to simple vegetable preparations such as pickles, crudités, and fresh cabbage served with a side of miso. Once both restaurants are up and running, Utagawa and Fukushima will turn their attention to Kiji Club, a Japanese-inspired cocktail bar slated for a nearby space at 600 F Street, Northwest.