Photo of banchan by Laura Hayes
Photo of banchan by Laura Hayes

Sometimes wishes are granted. The team behind Duke’s Grocery and Duke’s Counter is bringing Korean barbecue to Shaw (1924 8th St. NW). The restaurant will be the first in D.C. to feature open-air grills embedded in each dining table. Washingtonians have been commuting to Annandale and Centreville, Virginia for decades to get their fill of flame-kissed galbi and bulgogi. 

If you’re wondering what credentials proprietor Daniel Kramer, known for his British-style pubs in Dupont Circle and Woodley Park, brings to the table, know that he grew up near Los Angeles’ Koreatown. He says Korean barbecue was part of his diet, especially for special occasions.

“I’m in Los Angeles right now just driving around,” Kramer says, reached by phone. He’s spotting what sounds like a continuous string of Korean barbecue restaurants. “There’s one, there’s another, there’s another. That’s not new. But I come back to D.C. and say, ‘What’s going on here? We need to do this!”

There have been murmurs in the past of other restaurateurs attempting to branch out into Korean barbecue, but they say they ran into snags when it came to dealing with the city. Kramer says he hasn’t struggled so far and thinks D.C.’s agencies are some of the best in the country.

“Everything about opening a regular restaurant is a challenge, so this is just going to be a little more of a challenge than normal,” he says. “It’s an exciting thing, it’s experiential eating and Shaw has the most energy arguably of any part of town at the moment. We’re looking to add to that energy.”

The restaurant will have a wide array of banchan (small snacks to start the meal), plus a selection of Asian beers and spirits. 

The Korean barbecue restaurant doesn’t have a name yet and it’s scheduled to open in The Shay in the former Kit and Ace store in early 2019.