V Street, Meet Sake
Construction is now underway at the future site of Izakaya Seki, the planned 40-seat Japanese bar and restaurant, located in the former Spott's Barber Shop space at 1117 V Street NW. That much is certain. Exactly when you'll be able to eat there isn't quite clear yet.
"I don't know when we're opening," says proprietor Cizuka Seki, citing issues with gas service that make an exact target date a bit hard to pinpoint at the moment.
Seki is opening the restaurant with her father, Hiroshi Seki, a veteran chef of some 50 years who spent the most recent two decades running his own eatery outside St. Louis. "This is his baby," the younger Seki says, explaining that cooking in D.C., as opposed to the Midwestern suburbs, will allow her dad to "be creative and do whatever he wants rather than having to make food that he has to tweak to American tastes."
Like many astute restaurateurs these days, the father-daughter team bought the building. Public records show the $450,000 sale closed last July.
Seki does divulge a few details about the place: Plans for the first floor include a nine-seat counter looking out on an open kitchen. "Whoever is lucky enough to sit there gets to be served directly by my dad," she says. The second floor will serve as the primary dining room.
The menu hasn't quite been finalized. "But," she says, "it'll be food that he and I love, things we want to eat when we drink." Expect udon and soba noodle dishes (the latter variety will be shipped directly from Japan). But, no sushi (raw sashimi courses certainly, but no nigiri or maki.) No ramen, either (at least not at first, anyway). And, no bartender. "There's no space for a bar," she points out. But there will be drinks, including beer, sake and a curated selection of shōchū, a Japanese spirit that Seki hopes to become a sort of house specialty.
Expect a more modern look than your typical dark wooden izakaya-style joint in Japan, or even New York.
The overall goal, Seki says, is to offer the sort of high-quality cuisine at a mid-range price point that D.C. generally lacks. "I do think we're filling a gap that doesn't exist for casual Japanese dining," she says.
Photo by Chris Shott