Culinary visionaries bring the best of Japan to DC
Formed in 2013, Daikaya Group comes from chef Katsuya Fukushima and longtime restaurant visionaries Daisuke Utagawa (the influential Sushiko) and Yama Jewayni (the iconic Eighteenth Street Lounge).
Fukushima is one of the D.C.-area’s most celebrated chefs, rising to fame as the culinary talent growing José Andrés’ restaurant empire. He moved from (the now Michelin-starred) minibar to a ramen bar, from perfecting tweezer food to perfecting broth.
As the flagship, Daikaya ushered in the reign of ramen in Washington D.C., and it became the standard bearer of authentic Sapporo-style noodle soup. The Izakaya, just upstairs, was an instant hot spot, combining Fukushima’s interpretation of Japanese bar food influenced by modern American cuisine.
The group expanded its collection of restaurants to include: Bantam King (fried chicken and chicken ramen), Haikan (small plates and ramen), Hatoba (Asian pub fare and ramen), and Tonari (wafu-Italian restaurant). Tonari combines Japanese-style (wafu) Italian food in the form of deep-dish pizzas and pastas, plus other imaginative dishes and largely introduced this cuisine to the city.
In the summer of 2021, TAA PR was pleased to begin representation of the Daikaya Group and has since brought the team exposure both nationally and locally, and helped orchestrate its campaign around Daikaya Ramen selling its one millionth bowl and its giveaway of a trip to Japan. // Daikaya; Bantam King; Haikan; Hatoba; Tonari.
Haikan serves an old-school style of ramen, one from 1960s Japan, and rounds out its offerings with kozara, Japanese-style small plates. Embedded in D.C.’s Shaw neighborhood right next to the 9:30 Club, Haikan’s approachable, friendly menu makes it a staple for bites and drinks before (and after) shows.
A seamless match of Japanese heritage and island vibes, Hatoba serves Sapporo-style ramen and reimagined Hawiian dishes by Fukushima, whose family has lived on the Big Island for generations. In D.C.’s Navy Yard, Hatoba highlights the many cultures contributing to Hawaii’s cuisine—Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Filipino, Spanish, Portuguese and its native population—while also blending modern American-mainland touches.
Tonari, an Italian-Japanese restaurant specializing in pastas and pizzas using Hokkaido-milled flour, opened mere weeks before the pandemic shut down operations. The team is working on its return.