Chain, Chain, Chain

All chain restaurants are not created equal, and as D.C. prepares for an onslaught of high-end chains with big names attached, Metrocurean can only hope that they will reflect the talents of their absentee chefs.

From Richard Sandoval, who owns a handful of Latin-inspired restaurants, comes Zengo, which is scheduled to open in September at 781 7th St. in the Gallery Place complex. In what amounts to Latin/Asian fusion, Zengo's menu jumps from sushi to ceviche, dim sum to antojitos, and entrées that marry Latin and Asian ingredients, such as hibachi salmon with Peruvian corn and organic tofu. The design team Adamstein and Demetriou are making their mark all over this city (see Zaytinya, IndeBleu, Bistro Bis and Zola, to name a few) and they've been brought on to design the 7,800-square-foot interior. There's a guarantee that it will in the very least lookpretty.

From Masaharu Morimoto of Iron Chef fame comes Pauli Moto's Asian Bistro, slated to open in the Tyson's Corner mega-expansion this fall. Pauli Moto's will fuse cuisine from "the four major culinary regions of China; Szechuan, Hunan, Mongolian and Canton. Our Japanese offerings will include exciting sushi rolls, Chef Morimoto specialties, and a selection of meats and vegetables grilled on an authentic Japanese charcoal grill, called Robata Yaki," according to the Web site.

And carnivores take note. D.C. appears poised to finally get on the churrascaria bandwagon that has been rolling across the country. A Brazilian chain specializing in churrasco—a South American method of grilling meats over an open fire—appears to have set its sights on the District. CoStar Realty Information reported that Fogo de Chão leased a 17,000-square-foot space at 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. and plans to open a restaurant next year. In churrascaria tradition, giant slabs of skewered meats are presented and carved tableside. For a set price, guests can eat all the meat their hearts desire, using a two-sided card to signal "green" for "keep it comin'" and "red" for "ouch, my arteries hurt." (Guests can swap back to green once they've rested.)

Anyone out there have insights on this popular gimmick for Brazilian restaurants?