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“Do you want chopsticks or silverware?” the cashier asks. A good question. What is the proper etiquette for utensil usage when dining at the local outpost of a Midwestern-founded New York-based national fast food seafood chain that also inexplicably serves Korean barbecue?

I’m standing inside the vibrantly painted Arthur Treacher’s along Florida Avenue NW in Shaw, partaking of the advertised special—-bulgogi with rice for $6.95. Yes, you can also get the typical Arthur Treacher’s fish ‘n’ chips and other various fried seafood items. But the place also offers a separate menu (pictured below) of some non-traditional Arthur Treacher’s dishes. In addition to bulgogi, the offerings include bibim bab (also $6.95), udong ($4.95) and ra myun ($2.95). You can also order a quarter-pound burger with cheese ($3.99).

Initially, I order the bulgogi sub ($5.95) but the cashier tells me that it’s better with rice. Guess I’ll go with the chopsticks.

When I ask the gentleman behind the counter about the unusual fusion of these two starkly different culinary traditions in one location, he simply embraces the diversity: “More items!”

After digging into the sticky sweet beef and julienned-veggie dish—-roughly on par with your average Chinese takeout—-I call up the New York headquarters of Nathan’s Famous, the sort of parent company of Arthur Treacher’s, to get some corporate perspective on D.C.’s bizarre new franchisee. I’m told the woman I need to speak with is out, so I have to leave a message. I also leave a message with the marketing manager at TruFoods, LLC, described in a Wall Street Journal article as the master licensee and co-brand partner of the fish ‘n’ chips chain. The same article quotes another Arthur Treacher’s franchisee in Central Islip, Long Island, about his own hybrid restaurant, a co-branded Arthur Treacher’s/Pudgie’s Homemade Chicken. “The recession taught us to do more with less,” he says in the piece, “and combining two or more of our brands maximizes rental space….”

I’m suddenly reminded of that Das Racist song about the “Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell.”

So I ring up a few other Arthur Treacher’s locations to see if anyone else is embracing this new hot trend of blending bulgogi and fried cod.

First up, the next closest franchisee on my Google search, located along Saint Barnabas Road in Temple Hills, Md:

Y&H: “Do you serve Korean barbeque?”

WOMAN WHO ANSWERS THE PHONE: “No—-not up in here.”

Next on the list, Lee Highway in Fairfax:

Y&H: “Do you serve Korean barbecue?”

WOMAN WHO ANSWERS THE PHONE: [long pause] “Uh…this is a fish store.”

OK. So it doesn’t seem to be catching on in the D.C. suburbs. What about the outskirts of, say, Cleveland? I call up Arthur Treacher’s along Center Road in Brunswick, Ohio:

Y&H: “Do you serve Korean barbecue?”

GUY WHO THE ANSWERS THE PHONE: “Korean barbecue? This is Arthur Treacher’s Fish & Chips. We’re a seafood restaurant.”

Y&H: “Yeah, well, there’s an Arthur Treacher’s here in town that serves Korean barbecue. That’s why I’m asking?”

GUY: “Where are you at?”

Y&H: “Washington, D.C.”

GUY: “Oh no, they must be doing that on their own. I’ve never even heard of that, to be honest with you.”

Photos by Chris Shott