Days before chefs Danny Lee and Scott Drewno opened Chiko last summer, the Lee family’s 11-year-old Korean restaurant Mandu burned in an electrical fire. The original 18th Street location has remained closed since, as Lee and his mom Yesoon Lee have dealt with the damage and tried to decide whether to shut down or rebuild. (Another K Street branch remains open.)
Ultimately, they decided to stay. Along with Fried Rice Collective (the restaurant group started by Lee, Drewno, and Matchbox co-founder Drew Kim), they’re transforming the space into something new: Anju, a Korean pub with grilled meats, fun snacks, and plenty of soju.
If the name sounds familiar, that’s because the Lees hosted a late-night Anju pop-up series in 2014 with a rotating cast of top chefs serving Korean-fusion drinking snacks. The name literally translates to “food consumed with alcohol,” Lee says. But it also connotes places where you can find fun drinking food in a lively atmosphere. “You’re not held down to being the most traditional restaurant,” he explains.