100 Very Best Restaurants 2014: Daikaya

Photograph by Scott Suchman.

If any genre had its 15 minutes in 2013, it was the izakaya, a Japanese tavern-like restaurant that dishes up simple bites from the grill and fryer. And if any dish became so commonplace that it verged on cliché, it was ramen. Katsuya Fukushima, an acolyte of José Andrés, teamed with Sushiko owner Daisuke Utagawa to open this dual-minded spot: downstairs a hipster ramen bar, upstairs a manga-decorated izakaya, which liberally incorporates traditions from Spain, France, and South America. The ramen is as amped-up and porky as the best new-breed bowls are (the wok-charred bean sprouts are the real stars), while the small plates, from an escoviche-style monkfish liver to crispy turkey wings, make for a wild ride of a night. The best way to end your meal is with the onigiri—soft, seaweed-wrapped balls of rice filled with braised pork that call to mind, variously, a burger and a pork bun. You’ll walk out in a cloud of comfort.

Ramen shop open: Daily for lunch and dinner. Izakaya open: Monday through Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday for dinner, Sunday for brunch.

Don’t miss: Shio (salt) and shoyu (soy) ramen; mountain yam with salmon roe; grilled avocado; crab croquette; pork-belly-and-Brussels-sprout skewers; cucumbers with sesame; grilled oyster with sake. 

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Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.

Anna Spiegel
Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.