Casual Fast-Food Chinese Restaurant, Chao Ku, coming to the ever changing 1414 9th Street, NW

1414 9th Street, NW

Back in September we noted there was again action at the former home to Vegetate, Cafe Eagle, Taqueria Mexicana, Eagle (again), Northern Restaurant and Secret Lounge and Sports Bar. At that time a commenter told us some scuttlebutt:

“the space has been leased by John Fielding, whose industry pedigree is pretty great (Broad Branch Market, Tabard Inn, etc.). He’s going to be opening a fast casual restaurant on the 1st floor with upstairs bar. Upscale Chinese cuisine is the rumored theme.”

Ed. Note: Props to the tipster for being 99% correct. Send more tips to [email protected] 🙂 thanks.

A liquor license placard has now been posted for Chao Ku saying:

“A casual fast-food restaurant serving Chinese food. Seating for 56 and a total occupancy load of 56.”

Hours of operation are listed as Sunday through Saturday 10am – 2am.

Here’s lots more info from their Kickstarter page:

“Chao Ku, which means “super cool” in Mandarin slang, is a fast casual Chinese restaurant set to open in 2015 in the historic Shaw neighborhood of Washington, DC, serving fresh, traditional Chinese dishes and craft beer.

The Concept

This concept is the brainchild of John Fielding, founder of Broad Branch Market in Northwest DC and Paul Pelt, former head chef at the Tabard Inn, a longtime culinary landmark in the district.

John and Paul love to eat. So much so that they’ve made it a lifelong quest to find tasty, affordable food wherever they go. After years of restaurant-hopping around DC, they found themselves, more often than not, ending up in ethnic Chinese joints in the suburbs outside of the city. Through these expeditions, they noticed that DC was lacking in high-quality Chinese food within the city. Chao Ku is the realization of their ideal to introduce DC to this cuisine with fast, super-friendly service and authentic ingredients and techniques.

John and Paul believe that a great meal doesn’t have to be expensive and that good food is best when shared. Chao Ku will serve traditional Chinese food made from fresh ingredients, a far cry from your standard food court Chinese. Think savory Tofu Edamame, slow-cooked spare ribs, Singapore noodles, and ‘Chinese burgers’ served in pita buns. The food will be served in the classic Chinese “family style,” with vegetarian and vegan options, so everyone can try a bit of everything and it’s easy to order more. Best of all, the majority of the entrees will be less than $10 each.”

You can read more here.

Check out the early menu and a flashback to Vegetate after the jump.


Flashback to Vegetate:

1414 9th Street, NW in 2008

15 Comment

  • Isn’t this the former Vegetate/Be Bar space? Good lucky, this seems to be a “cursed” location – nothing that opens here is long for this world.

    • Prince Of Petworth

      First sentence dude and literally a photo of Vegetate at the end… 🙂

    • This may have been a cursed location before — the facade is a bit odd — but I think this place will kill it here now. There’s a much bigger market for this type of place now that City Market at O is there, and it’s near a bunch of newish bars that complement it. Also, Vegetate was tasty, but hard to sustain. I love the kind of food it served, but left there hungry after spending more than I usually would spend on a meal. Most of the dishes here are under $10 and I think the appeal for the neighborhood will be huge.

  • Would love a good brew pub, not sure more chinese/thai/ramen is needed on this block.

  • Curse or not, good Chinese in walking distance without too much pretense or expense..I can’t wait. Nice to see someone use “concept” to describe a new restaurant w/o making me gag.

  • Awesome! Can’t wait.

  • Does everything have to be a “concept”? Those suburban eateries have been doing their thing forever, and I wish we could just have that in the city. (Oh the horror of the bland suburbs whitewashing our diverse city! /s) But creating hype and concepts is what you have to do to survive in this city, I guess.
    My dream is to not have to trek to Rockville anymore but that’s not likely unless we get those Rockvillians (i.e, more diversity, real diversity) to move here. And An Asian grocery. But that’s not happening.

    • Prince Of Petworth

      With all due respect it sounds like you should seriously consider moving to Rockville. It sounds like it has everything you want. Also ‘The Concept’ is, I believe, a section on kickstarter so I wouldn’t get too bogged down in the semantics. I also encourage you to visit the Hana Japanese market at 17th and U St, NW. And Pho Viet.

  • Yes. Yes. Yes.

  • I miss vegetate 🙁

  • I would be more impressed if it looked like they were doing anything authentic.

    The “Chinese Burgers” on the menu have the wrong filling. The filling should be the stewed pork referenced in the Tower of Power, and I hope they used pita bun loosely, because it really should be in a split biscuit. As far as I know, the only place doing some really authentic Chinese in the city is at Panda Gourmet on New York Ave. They do a favorable Roujiamo (Chinese Burgers).

    I’ll reserve judgment, but I’m not optimistic.

    • In one sentence you knock them for not being authentic for serving a cumin lamb burger, in the next you claim that Panda Gourmet on NY Ave is- when they serve a cumin lamb burger too. Just sayin’.

      • Fair point. Panda gourmet also sells a lot of Americanized Chinese food as well (general Tso’s, orange chicken). To be honest, I didn’t notice that there was a cumin lamb option at Panda Gourmet because I just go for the pork. For all I know, the cumin lamb filling may be authentic, but I never saw it served in bing during my years in China. That said, the chef at Panda Gourmet is from Shaanxi province, and even when deviating from standards, he still is drawing on a background in traditional Chinese cooking. Most of the things the menu at Panda are approximations of what I would get on the Mainland and are authentic. These are a couple chefs, who do not appear to have any experience in Chinese cuisine, who liked the food they had up in Rockville. The announcement says they are bringing traditional Chinese cooking to DC, and it doesn’t appear to be the case. This does not incline me to give them the benefit of the doubt. If the reviews come back positive, then I’ll try the place myself. I’ll

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