If there's one dish that speaks to the style of cooking at Anju, opening next month, it's yukhoe. Korea's answer to steak tartare is typically made with raw beef, a sesame oil-based dressing, Asian pear, and an egg. "Our thought process is looking at the list of ingredients that go into a dish and then finding some method or technique we can tweak along the way to make it our own and a little more elevated," explains Danny Lee, one of the co-owners of the Korean pub and restaurant.
The yukhoe diners will try at Anju, which translates to food that goes great with alcohol, has a few twists. Instead of using granulated sugar in the sesame dressing, Executive Chef Angel Barreto uses palm sugar to increase viscosity. He also finely dices and then freezes the Asian pear so that it slowly melts once added to the tartare mixture, keeping it cold as you eat. This strategy mimics the chill of traditional yukhoe, which often utilizes barely-thawed beef. (Some restaurants must freeze their beef because they can't get it in fresh daily.) Barreto will also mix in sweet and spicy basil seeds and finish the dish off with grated egg yolk and crispy lotus root chips for scooping.
Anju replaces the original Mandu, which suffered a fire almost two years ago at 1805 18th St. NW. Mandu served bibimbap, chap-chae, dumplings, and sojutini cocktails for more than a decade. With Anju, Lee and his mom, Yesoon Lee, added to their team by bringing in Danny's partners at Fried Rice Collective—Scott Drewno and Drew Kim. The trio is behind the smash hit CHIKO.