US-India Global Review

51 US-INDIA GLOBAL REVIEW JANUARY-MARCH 2018 Danny Lee ChiKo, Washington, D.C. "As long as I could remember, our house was always the house that had people over for dinner," says Danny Lee. "For my sister and I, some of our best memories are sitting around the kitchen table, just folding dumplings. Overseeing them was his moth- er, Yesoon Lee, who grew up in Seoul, South Korea. She immi- grated to Illinois for graduate school in the early 1970s, before meeting her husband and moving to the Virginia suburbs. There, she became a social butterfly with a reputation as a formidable cook. When Lee was 15, his father died, and to earn more money, Yesoon bought her way into a deli business, Picca-Deli, in Alexandria, Virginia, and then a pan-Asian eatery at the airport, hawking sesame beef. "My mom's generation, no one [in America] knew what Korean food was," Lee, 36, says. "Her generation, to make money, they couldn't cook Korean food." But Lee was born here. "I can't speak Korean that well. I'm, like, the whitest Korean person I know," he jokes. "But I grew up eating Korean food. I was immersed in it." In 2006, his family opened Mandu, the Korean word for the dumplings they once all made together as a family. His mom is its chef. But at ChiKo on Capitol Hill, opened this summer, only the faintest impression of his Korean upbringing is evident. Lee is one of two chefs: The "Ko" in the name represents his Korean her- itage, while the "Chi" represents fellow chef Scott Drewno's Chinese cooking prowess. Stainless steel bowls arrive at tables like a stream of conscious- ness, filled with charred Brussels sprouts or sweet, vinegary slabs of daikon dyed highlighter-yellow Danny Lee at ChiKo inWashington. Photo by John Rorapaugh The snack tray at ChiKo. Photo by Deb Lindsey for TheWashington Post.