Chef Danny Lee was born in Washington, DC, and still calls the region home. After a quick career in genetic research, Danny dedicated himself to the restaurant industry, eventually managing a local DC powerspot. In 2006, Danny and his mother, Yesoon, decided to open Mandu, DC’s first full service Korean restaurant, near Dupont Circle. Five years later, the family opened a second location in DC’s Mount Vernon Triangle neighborhood.
In 2017, Danny started a new restaurant group with Chef Scott Drewno called The Fried Rice Collective. The group’s first restaurant, CHIKO, opened in July of 2017 on Barrack’s Row in Washington, DC. CHIKO serves modern Chinese and Korean cuisine in a fun and casual environment. During the first opening year, CHIKO was nominated for Best New Restaurant in the country by the James Beard Awards. CHIKO has since expanded with additional locations in DC, Virginia, Maryland, and Encinitas, CA.
The original Mandu location suffered a fire in the summer of 2017. Due to his family’s history in the building, Lee wanted to stay and rebuild, but open as a new concept. In the summer of 2019, Anju opened, with The Fried Rice Collective partnering with the Lee family. Anju serves eclectic Korean cuisine in a vibrant atmosphere, paying homage to both traditional and modern aspects of Korean culture. Since opening, Anju was named the #1 restaurant in the region by Washingtonian Magazine, and has been nominated for various local and national awards.
Danny was nominated as a James Beard Award semifinalist for Best Chef Mid-Atlantic in the Spring of 2020. In the fall of 2021, Danny was listed on the Washington Business Journal’s Power 100, being recognized for the anti-racism initiatives he had taken part of or started. In 2022, Danny and his business partner Scott were recognized as Restaurateurs of the Year for the 2022 RAMMY Awards. Lee has been featured in several national and local publications and media outlets, such as HBO, Netflix, the Wall Street Journal, Food and Wine, Bon Appetit, Food Network, Men’s Health, Washington Post, Washingtonian, and many more.