A tri-level Japanese restaurant in Adams Morgan specializing in udon, kushiyaki, and shabu-shabu had already been delayed when Covid hit. The pandemic meant chef/owner Darren Norris and wife/partner Candice Wise-Norris had to wait even longer for permits, while totally reimagining the highly anticipated debut. But now, finally, Shibuya Eatery will open—at least in part—on Monday, July 27.
Norris previously ran one of DC’s pioneering izakayas, Kushi, which closed in 2014. His plans for Shibuya Eatery are even more ambitious—but he’s starting simple. The restaurant will first open only for pickup, delivery (Grubhub, UberEats, DoorDash), and outdoor dining on a street parklet. The initial menu will focus on handmade udon noodles and buckwheat or matcha soba. Diners can order them hot or cold with toppings that include pickled prawn with edamame, shaved beef with simmered onion, or broiled eel with ginger.
A binchotan charcoal grill will turn out at least 15 types of kushiyaki (meat and vegetable skewers), including chicken meatballs, pork belly, and baby leeks with ume plum. There will also be a selection of simple small dishes: onigiri (rice balls), cucumber with fermented miso, and homemade tofu. Sake, Japanese beer, and a handful of cocktails will be available to-go and on the patio.
Two to three weeks later, Norris plans to open the top-level Death Punch bar—though it will be less like a bar than originally intended. The space will accept reservations and allow sit-down dining with the same noodle and kushiyaki menu plus Japanese raw bar items. Get a shellfish platter or opt for a la carte dishes including live uni, lobster sashimi, oysters, and a ceviche-style scallop marinated in sake, mirin, and yuzu. Norris will highlight sashimi specials—though no sushi—flown in from Japan a few days a week. The food will be accompanied by a substantial sake and shochu list plus a cocktail menu with a “Japanese feel to it.”
The second level of the restaurant was supposed to be a shabu-shabu destination called Shabu Plus. But given that summer isn’t an ideal time to start offering hot pot, those plans are on hold. Instead of serving a modern kaiseki tasting menu, Shabu Plus will instead focus on seasonal small plates. That menu will become available a few weeks after the Death Punch opening.
While this is not the way Norris intended to open, he’s actually thankful the restaurant was delayed and didn’t debut before Covid hit.
“We didn’t hire a bunch of people and then have to lay a bunch of people off. I didn’t invest in all my food inventory and then have to throw it away,” Norris says. “It still cost us a lot of money since then, but we didn’t have to lose anything. It’s a little scary to open up in this time, but I feel good about what we’re doing.”
Shibuya Eatery. 2321 18th Street., NW; 202-450-2151.