New Restaurant Kappo Features 8-Course Tasting Menu in Revived Digs
April 21, 2023 @ 11:00am
The new Palisades’ restaurant offers an omakase tasting menu built around community.
Omakase fans across the DMV have the chance to experience a refreshed concept that blends tradition with a lively, colorful atmosphere.
Enter Kappo, Chef Minoru Ogawa’s new venture with partners Ari Wilder and Adrian Williams. Kappo’s eight-course tasting menu features Japanese wagyu, seafood and vegetables. There is also a selection of cocktails and an extensive wine and sake program. Nestled in a 550-square-foot space, the latest addition to The Palisades’ restaurant roundup also pays tribute to its storied past.
Previously in its place was Makoto, run by the late Chef Yoshiaki Itoh, and later his son, Gene Itoh. After Makoto’s closing in 2018, Itoh’s son asked Ogawa about taking over and recreating the space. Ogawa enlisted Wilder and Williams, who have a long history of working together across the D.C. restaurant scene.
“He approached us about this project and wanted to do something a little more neighborhood-driven, a little bit more repeat clientele, word-of-mouth kind of business,” Wilder says. “Like the way Makoto used to be here, long before social media existed.”
Since opening in mid-March, Kappo’s seven-person team has been hard at work in the revamped space. The wagyu and seafood are sourced from Japan, and the vegetable selection comes from a Japanese farmer in Delaware. This makes for a varied menu that is dictated by the types of ingredients that are available. Wilder says the idea is to create a sort of familiarity on the menu, but also include new surprises. Those wondering whether they’ll be able to try their favorite dishes again will just have to come back and see.
“There’s some intrigue and mystery with what’s behind the door with the big, Japanese hand-made iron knocker,” he says.
In addition to a carefully curated menu, the team was just as detailed when it came to the location itself. To preserve the space’s original character, they refurbished some of the older elements, like redwood shelves and a hand-made door in the entryway. These are complemented by new, hand-painted tiles that add a playful touch to what is traditionally a more formal, minimalistic setting.
“There’s definitely a little bit more color than you’re probably used to seeing, which is something that really does go with the Kappo style of cuisine,” Wilder says. “There’s more of a social gathering aspect to it.”
Just one month after formally opening, Wilder has seen the local community already embrace Kappo. Several of Makoto’s past customers have returned for special occasions, like celebrating an anniversary in the same place they shared their first date. One man was able to enjoy dinner and drinks with his daughter after bringing her in as a child years ago.
“There’s those decades-long kinds of experiences that are being reimagined when you walk through the doors here and come in. It’s been really rewarding to meet these people because that was really the point.”
Kappo is open for seatings from Wednesday through Sunday, by reservation only. In time, Wilder hopes to open for service seven days a week and find ways to make the space more available for all who would like to come. For him, it’s about keeping a neighborhood treasure for everyone to enjoy.
“The real goal here was just to try to be here doing this for a long time,” Wilder says. “This is very much supposed to be a special little jewel like it used to be.”
Kappo: 4822 MacArthur Blvd. NW, DC; kappodc.com // @kappodc
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