Spread at Yoko and Kota Credit: Vina Sananikone

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There was one more spot up for grabs at Neighborhood Restaurant Group’s “culinary clubhouse,” The Roost.” Restaurateur Erik Bruner-Yang of Maketto, ABC Pony, and two restaurants inside The LINE DC Hotel called dibs. Yoko and Kota will open on Tuesday, Dec. 22.

Bruner-Yang named his latest restaurant after Yokota Airbase, where he lived from 2nd through 4th grade. Though he was young, he still has fond memories from his time in Japan and calls it the first time he really understood his “Asian American identity.”

On Sundays his family would let him ride his bike into town to pick up food at a market. “I was obsessed with motorcycle culture there,” Bruner-Yang says. “This is grade school in Japan—you could venture off into the city because it was so safe.” He adds that Yoko represents his younger self while Kota represents his bike.

A young Erik-Bruner Yang. Photo courtesy of Vina Sananikone.

The menu at Yoko and Kota is not Japanese. It’s pan-Asian and focuses on dumplings, noodles, and Chinese barbecue. Bruner-Yang brought over the crystal shrimp dumplings from Maketto, but most of the dishes are new. The noodles are vegan and gluten free, and customers can choose to add on various proteins like beef flavored with Chinese five-spice. Expect the menu to grow and change frequently.

Chef Mario Almeida, who has cooked at Spoken English and ABC Pony with Bruner-Yang, helped bring the restaurant to fruition.

The opening menu is as follows:

DUMPLINGS  

Pork Wontons chili oil, black vinegar, crispy garlic 
Crystal Shrimp Dumplings nuoc cham, cilantro 
Peking Duck Buns hoisin sauce, spicy cucumber relish 
Mushroom Curry Buns curry mayo, pickled radish & carrots 

NOODLES 

Wide rice noodles, mixed veg, cucumbers, herbs, crispy garlic, pickles  
Choice of sauce: peanut and citrus chili oil sauce, tomato sesame sauce, coconut black bean sauce. Protein add-ons: five-spice braised beef, ginger braised chicken, extra veg.
 
ROTATING WEEKLY CHINESE BBQ, MP

Half duck, quarter poached chicken, or smoked red pork with chili crisp, ginger, and scallion served over rice and dan dan broccoli salad.

Bruner-Yang was drawn to The Roost after growing close with NRG founder Michael Babin during the pandemic. NRG has been a key participant in Bruner-Yang’s Power of 10 initiative that has fought to keep D.C.’s vulnerable residents fed. “We purchase grocery boxes from them that we deliver to 30 or 40 families a week,” Bruner-Yang says. “We’d meet up at The Roost. It’s an amazing space.” 

Yoko and Kota will operate from 4 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, 4 to 10 p.m. Fridays, 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturdays, and 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays.