babienko brought to life Chef Shota Nakajima’s vision of establishing an authentic Japanese street food experience on Capitol Hill. Starting from a 1,300 sf blank slate, babienko created a Japanese back-alley streetscape ambience through use of materials typically found on building exteriors – including brick, concrete, and corrugated metal – and with the installation of various roof structures throughout the space. These elements provide a backdrop for an array of decorative streetscape elements such as garage doors, neon signs, and paper lanterns, and are topped off with graffiti and stickers that hit home the desired ad-hoc feel and casual vibe.
The centerpiece of the restaurant is the L-shaped charred wood bar with its wood shake roof overhead and hanging shelves displaying tchotchkes. Seating on either side provides diners with an intimate dining experience in a dynamic urban space.