Chiko, the Eater Awards 2017 editor’s choice winner for Game Changer of the Year in Washington, D.C., is winging its way to North County, where it will open in Encinitas later this summer. Named for the two cuisines — Chinese and Korean — that the menu most represents, it’s been an out-of-the gate hit since its opening last July and remains one of the toughest tables to score in the nation’s capital.
The casual, counter-service restaurant is the debut project of The Fried Rice Collective, a hospitality group comprised of Danny Lee, who co-owns D.C. Korean eatery Mandu, and Scott Drewno, who spent a decade perfecting dim sum and other Asian dishes at The Source by Wolfgang Puck. The group’s third member, Matchbox Food Group co-founder Andrew Kim, lives in the San Diego area, which explains the cross-country move; he will be the West Coast location’s operating partner.
Chiko will take over the nearly 3,000-square-foot Bull Taco space on N. Coast Highway with a layout that spans a 30-seat dining room, an open kitchen, and an additional 30 patio seats. The menu ranges from snacks to larger plates, including spice-crusted chicken wings, garlic shrimp dumplings, and cumin lamb stir fry with wheat flour noodles and caramelized shallots; the restaurant tells Eater that dishes at the San Diego outpost will be modified to include local produce and other seasonal ingredients with a larger emphasis on seafood. A by-reservation, four-seat kitchen counter will offer a comprehensive ‘taste of the menu’ for a set price. Chiko will initially open for dinner, with the aim of expanding to lunch service in the first few months.