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Who Has the Best Sushi in the DC Area?


tobism
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I wonder why Good Guys gets all the pub.  Across the street, near Austin Grill, is JP's.  No one ever mentions it...

When I was growing up, in spite of all of the other places just like it, Good Guys was the rite of passage in the area for all the prep school guys.

And, y'know, all those dancers are Georgetown Med students -- nice girls just trying to pay for medical school. ;)

Ahem, back on topic. I am a big fan of Arigato out here in Fairfax -- both locations. I used to like Atami in Clarendon quite a bit, but I really haven't eaten there with any regularity in some time. I eat at Nouveau East at Ballston Common out of convenience (my office is right there), but Arigato is much, much better.

Edited by MichelleW (log)
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Me too, excpet I'm too tall and arthritic.

Don't let your handicaps keep you from Makoto, its well worth the visit, and at $45 the chefs' menu is well worth the experience. By the way, you don't sit on the floor, you sit on some sort of wooden box that doubles as jacket storage....too cool. I would agree that for the best fish, makoto is the place, however, for a great sushi fiesta, I would look more to sushi taro, sushi ko, or kaz sushi. All those places are more upbeat, modern, and loose. Oh, and in the summer, rooftop at perry's is butter.

Poste

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Me too, excpet I'm too tall and arthritic.

Don't let your handicaps keep you from Makoto, its well worth the visit, and at $45 the chefs' menu is well worth the experience. By the way, you don't sit on the floor, you sit on some sort of wooden box that doubles as jacket storage....too cool. I would agree that for the best fish, makoto is the place, however, for a great sushi fiesta, I would look more to sushi taro, sushi ko, or kaz sushi. All those places are more upbeat, modern, and loose. Oh, and in the summer, rooftop at perry's is butter.

Last time I was there I couldn't walk for a week. It is kind of worth it though...

Firefly Restaurant

Washington, DC

Not the body of a man from earth, not the face of the one you love

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Sushi Ko on Wisconsin Ave, next door to Good Guys, is reputed to have the best sushi in the area.

must. keep. joke. to. self.

:laugh:

Between this and the Royal Palace sub-thread in the "New Spots" thread, this forum is getting a whole lot more interesting.

:raz:

I wonder why Good Guys gets all the pub. Across the street, near Austin Grill, is JP's. No one ever mentions it...

Actually, I've still never been to Good Guys. JP's on the other hand...

peak performance is predicated on proper pan preparation...

-- A.B.

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In my opinion, the best sushi is at Kanpai in Rosslyn, which is affiliated with Bonsai in Shirlington. Very fresh fish, and freshly grated wasabi, which is vastly superior to the reconstituted green paste that most places use.

I went to Kampai today, due to the recommendation seen on the board; and because i live sooo close....and all i have to say was: excellent.

we sat at the bar and chatted with the owner/sushi chef for several hours...as we ate some of the tastiest and freshest sushi i have had in the area. the fatty tuna was the fattiest i have ever seen; the white tune (never even seen it before) was exquisite...the monkfish liver was the freshest and most like foie gras i have ever had, and the sea urchin was tasty too.

all in all, the place was clean and nice looking on the inside...the service was friendly and the food was tasty. all within a 10 minute walk from my house.

Nothing quite like a meal with my beautiful wife.

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I'm glad you liked Kanpai. Peter (the owner) is very talented and a really nice person. I don't think he gets enough public recognition in the Washington Post or Washingtonian. We went to Bonsai this weekend after the movies, and had a really nice sushi assortment. Peter's younger brother is behind the sushi bar there.

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Surprisingly, Noveau East in the Ballston Mall has really awesome sushi. Their unagi is probably the best I've ever had - crunchy, caramelized exterior but still tender and moist inside, and the faintest hint of sweetness. They have a constant rotation of japanese specialties (from scallop cups to baby octopus to exotic fishes - many of which I'd never even heard of), depending on what is freshest at the market that day. They're sushi happy hour is also a great deal - dollar sushi with big hunks of fresh fish, $3 beers. I like it far better than Sushi Ko, and as well as (if not more than) Kaz.

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Sushi Ko on Wisconsin Ave, next door to Good Guys, is reputed to have the best sushi in the area.

I was fairly unimpressed with Sushi Ko. Good bottle of wine there, but the sushi itself was not all that exciting.

Kaz in Foggy Bottom is very good. Believe it or not though, my favorite places after trying a handful of places in DC is a place in the Ballston Mall called Nouveau East. The sushi there always seems very fresh (the unagi is awesome) and they always have different unusual daily specials that change every time I am in there....that also adds to the feeling that everything is fresh there. I highly recommend.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I was reminded of how good and relatively inexpensive the sushi is at Sushi Taro on 17th Street in DC when Sara and I sat at the counter on Saturday evening. The place was hopping, and we had to wait 20 minutes fo a seat, but it was worth it.

We shared the 11 nigiri and california roll sushi assortment and ordered some additional nigiri on top of that. Particular stand-outs for me were the eel, fatty yellowtail, and fatty tuna. The california rolls were also excellent. How was the saki, Sara? :raz:

Note that its web site has not been updated since last year's remodeling.

Edited by liamdc (log)

Liam

Eat it, eat it

If it's gettin' cold, reheat it

Have a big dinner, have a light snack

If you don't like it, you can't send it back

Just eat it -- Weird Al Yankovic

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Kanpai is located on North Oak Street, just off Wilson Boulevard (north of Wilson Boulevard, if I have my compass points correct). It's a short walk from the Rosslyn metro station. The website is pretty rudimentary -- www.kanpaijapaneserestaurant.com -- but it has a map and lunch and dinner menus.

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How was the saki, Sara? :raz:

.

I had a small bottle of their cheapest sake, which could've been served a bit colder but was just fine.

I agree that the sushi was very fresh, and certainly comparable to Kaz--and less expensive in general (tho their price for sea urchin seemed unusually high to me at $8 for two pieces). I was impressed with their very wide selection (3 tunas, 2 yellowtails, 5 clams, etc), and certainly look forward to going back and exploring the menu further. I only wish that the sushi bar allowed a better view of the chef's work, that the chef's interacted with the bar patrons, and that the room wasn't quite so noisy.

Food is a convenient way for ordinary people to experience extraordinary pleasure, to live it up a bit.

-- William Grimes

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ok, i can't say from personal experience (i don't particularly like sushi), but many of my friends swear by Joss, on Main Street in Annapolis. on the non-sushi menu, everything i've had there's been tasty though (beef negimaki's my favorite there) - always packed during the summer (i.e. tourist season)

see http://www.josscafe-sushibar.com/

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well, after eating at probably 20 or so sushi restaurants in the DC area, I can report that I found ONE that was respectable... I can't remember all the places I ate at, but here are a few:

Virginia:

Cafe Asia, Konami, Matuba, Genji, Matsutake, atami

DC:

Sushi-Ko, Sakana, Japonais, Cafe Asia

Except for Genji, NONE of these restaurants had good sushi, I would not go back to any of them NOR would I recommend them to anyone. Genji is the only one that had good sushi, and that was only above-average, it wasn't spectacular. Maybe I'm just spoiled by places like Shino or Ginza in Boston, or the various places in the bay area and LA... I hope not though...

NOTE: I have read on this board that Makoto is good, but I have not tried it yet.

Anyway, I just bought a house in northern VA right near DC and I'll be VERY upset if there are no good sushi restaurants besides Genji. Please tell me there are other ones and I just have been going to the wrong places...

Oh, here's my basic take on what good sushi comprises:

1) Fresh fish (no smell)

2) Quality fish, properly cut (i.e. - salmon has nice fatty lines running horizontally and melts in your mouth, etc...)

3) The rice with nigiri is not too tightly packed (many of these places made the rice so dense it was just nasty)

4) Small-sized rice balls with nigiri (I was shocked to get huge golf-ball sized rice balls)

Here's a picture of "good" sushi (IMHO): toro, sake, unagi, and a spicy tuna roll in the back -

goodsushi.jpg

Edited by backwardshat (log)

"Compared to me... you're as helpless as a worm fighting an eagle"

BackwardsHat.com

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You won't be disappointed with the sushi at Makoto, up MacAurther Blvd across from the Safeway. The fish is exceptionally fresh, and the serving sizes are respectably small. The rice itself is of very good quality. In contast, at Cafe Asia, I always think the rice tastes "deflated," if that makes any sense.

At Makoto, you can order the sushi as you like, or, as I prefer, you can get it as part of their tasting menu, which, for $45, you are served a 10 course meal (don't worry, it's not that filling!), including a sushi and sashimi course. The last time I was there (which was last June), it was so good that I committed the menu of the tasting to memory. Here's what I had in the order it was served:

1. Gilled teriyaki scallop, and cool asparagus with creamy mustard

2. Giant clam, chicken with ginger and green onion, and Japanese mountain vegetable

3. Sashimi: Tuna, flounder

4. Soft-shell crab fried in crushed rice cracker

5. Cabbage roll with tofu skin, shitake mushroom and whitefish in broth.

6. Lacquered box with steamed shrimp and shitake, beef in sesame sauce, eel salad, and Japanese mountain vegetable

7. Sushi: Spanish Mackerel, scallop, yellowfin

8. Seared beef in brown sauce

9. Soba noodles

10. Grape sherbet

Of these, the most memorable courses were (4), the mackerel in (7), asparagus in (1), chicken and ginger in (2), and (10).

Otherwise, for just sushi, I'm reminded that there's a very good Japanese supermarket in Bethesda where I occasionally get fatty tuna and other gifts from the sea to make sushi at home. It's called Daruma, and if making sushi at home isn't an option, I believe they have a bar, or at least a counter.

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Go to Kaz.

Eat anything with foie gras.

I just looked and there is seared salmon sashimi with gorgonzola-miso sauce. I now know what I am doing for lunch on Monday.

Firefly Restaurant

Washington, DC

Not the body of a man from earth, not the face of the one you love

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Backwardshat,

There is an excellent sushi restaurant right in your own backyard (practically)! Kanpai is located on North Oak Street, just off Wilson Boulevard in Rosslyn. They have a sister restaurant in Shirlington, called Bonsai. Both have pristinely fresh sushi, and they have freshly grated wasabi -- truly a rarity around here.

If you don't like Kanpai or Bonsai better than Matuba or the other places you listed, I would be astounded. I haven't been to Matuba in years, but when I went, I wasn't very impressed -- it seemed very inexpensive, and that was its only attraction. Same for Atami. And isn't Matsutake a chain?

In DC, as John W. suggested, go to Kaz for really interesting and innovative japanese cuisine.

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my tum tum hurts :sad:

Take two tums.

(And change banks.)

Go to Sushi-Ko and ask to see their list of red Burgundies. This is Daisuke Utagawa's Big Theory - that red Burgundy goes well with certain types of raw fish - and I have to say, he sold me on the virtues of this many moons ago. The combination works amazingly.

P.S. Kudos to Firefly and Colvin Run Tavern for having excellent wine service this past week, with the wines served in proper stemware and at the proper temperature.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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Thanks for all the replies...

Maybe I wasn't as specific as I should have been... I am mostly looking for quality sushi (specifically nigiri)... I am appreciative for the suggestions on wine, and japanese food, but I'm really looking for just nigiri sushi recommendations...

bx23$qa: I will definitely try Makoto (that menu you describe sounds pretty good)

saycheese: I will definitely try Kanpai as well... I don't really eat my nigiri sushi with soy OR wasabi, but I'll try a little bit since it's freshly grated wasabi... :cool:

I'll post my thoughts after I visit those two places...

Thanks again, and let me know if there are any other places! :smile:

"Compared to me... you're as helpless as a worm fighting an eagle"

BackwardsHat.com

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my last dinner at Japone' was served with frozen seaweed salad and a nice portion of rice-caked vomit ( in the bathroom)...enjoy!

danzig, little buddy,

you need to quit buying them fifths of Chivas and pitchers of coke there at Japone. by the way, your karaoke sucks. :smile:

Mark

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Just came back from first meal at Nouveau East. Not bad, I will probably return but it's not at the top of my list of local restaurants for straight-ahead nigiri (yet?). Only had sushi so I can't speak about the rest of the menu. I also ordered ala carte (mid-range prices) so I can't say what would be the value (quality/cost ratio) of a lunch/dinner set.

When I ordered the toro sashimi appetizer, the chef (to his credit) told me that toro was only available as sushi. He did, however, offer aji which was was a whole fish filleted into four pieces of sashimi and two pieces of sushi served with its own ginger/(ponzu?) sauce. Nice presentation with the sashimi served on a bed of shredded daikon, resting on the remains of the filleted fish in a bamboo basket. As others have mentioned, the unagi was good. I would have preferred having more heat in the spicy tuna maki. Soft-shell crab handroll was not greasy. Rice was not the freshest it could be but I've had worst in a Japanese restaurant.

Although the aji, hamachi, and hotate (scallop) did not smell fishy, they didn't have much flavor either. The chef appeared to be skillful enough but I have the feeling that he might be limited by his fish budget. Unless he has clientele who demands top of the line fish and is willing to pay for it, he won't be able to stock the "good stuff" and maintain adequate turnover.

I would still recommend Yamazato (N. Va.) and Makoto (D.C.) :biggrin: over other local places where I've eaten sushi. If you need a pan-Asian restaurant to satisfy a group with different preferences, Nouveau East gets my recommendation over Cafe Asia in Rosslyn. Also, given the noise from the brewpub next door, a talkative group would not feel out of place (in contrast to a more intimate Japanese restaurant).

Edited by Gary Tanigawa (log)
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