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Question Two: Sushi

  • k

My other question is, where to go for sushi?

Background: I've been to several places in the Maryland/DC area, one in Virginia. So far, the current favorite is Niwano Hana, which has really good sushi for a decent price. I've been to Momo Taro, maybe it was having an off night, but it wasn't as good as Niwano Hana. I've been to Tako Grill several times, it was mediocre. I've been to Aji Nippon, it was mediocre (though Tako was better). I've been to Matuba for lunch, mediocre to poor (which was disappointing because I'd heard good things). I've been to Hinode for their lunch buffet, the quality of the fish seems fine, but the lunch sushi is not great. I've been to Sushi-Ko, it was quite good. I have been to Yamazato, it was also quite good.

Here's the problem: While I've been to several places in the area, at the best they are very good. Not excellent. I am searching for an excellent sushi place. Places I've been to in other cities, just to give an idea what I'm thinking of (if any of you are familiar with them). San Diego: Sushi Ito, Ono Sushi. Both very good. St. Louis: Drunken Fish. Very good. Las Vegas: Nobu. Good.

The crux of this is that I spent 8 years in Boston. I've been to Fugakyu, which is very good, sometimes excellent, Ginza, which has slipped downhill, and the star, Oishii. In my mind, Oishii is excellent. Every time. I want to find a place that is consistently excellent in the DC area, but so far all I've managed to find are places that are very good.

So, where do I go around here that is excellent? I've not been to Kaz Sushi Bistro, and I intend to go. Any other suggestions? I'm willing to drive a ways here, as most anything in the area is closer than Boston. Thanks in advance for any help, and thanks for reading this whole thing!

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  1. e
    Eric In Virginia

    In Virginia, I like Yamazato for their lunch platters ("sushi B") which are good value and Matsui in the Landsdowne Center, particularly their shiro maguro (white tuna), which is exquisite. This little place is bright and clean, a real find, and has a strong following from the Ft. Belvoir crowd that have served overseas. I'd rate these "very good," but not quite excellent.

    Akasaka on Van Dorn gets better reviews than either of the above, but I don't like it as much, the place is getting run down and there's a smell in the dining room, perhaps the staff are allowed to smoke in the back. The sushi is fine, but overall, I prefer the previously mentioned spots.

    I do not care much for Osaka in Springfield.

    You probably want to look into Kotobuki in DC, it has a strong following.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Eric In Virginia

      My favorite in McLean is Tachibana. They have great lunch specials, especially on the weekends. Also, once a year, they have an "appeciation" dinner where for a set price, you get get their full menu buffet style.


      FYI, this place is authentic japanese, meaning it's not owned by Koreans or Chinese.

      1. re: RL

        I recently tried Sushi Kappo Kawasaki near Dupont Circle (19th street). It is pricey, but the sushi there is terrific and better than all of the other places I've been to in the D.C./Virginia area, Maryland including Kotobuki, Tachibana, Hama Sushi. It is definitely authentic and not a roll place, much more focused on standard sashimi/sushi and chirashi. There are also a lot of traditional Japanese appetizers and specials.

        1. re: Peter Lin

          I've eaten at this place before, and nothing really stood out. It's frequented by Japanese businessmen doing business in the city. For whatever reason, their offerings seemed generic to me.

      2. re: Eric In Virginia

        I love Makoto, but it's really much more than a sushi place.

        I've always liked sushi-ko and think it's consistently pretty good, so I'm not sure what to recommend if it's not up to your standards. (Pls. don't read a snotty tone into that, I don't mean it to be there.) I've never been to Kaz, but it's the one that folks most often discuss in the same breath with sushi-ko.

        Good luck.

        1. re: smokey

          I've been to Kaz's and was not impressed. Also, it's been closed a few times by the health dept. Sushi-Ko is good, but the portions are small and the decor reminds me of a deserted department store. Makoto is good also, but you won't be full and it's a bit overpriced. Haven't tried Kotobuki, it's neighbor, but I've heard good things. Sushi taro is probably the best in dupont, and Tako Grill is more glam than substance.

          1. re: smokey

            Don't worry, no offense taken!

        2. It sounds odd, I know, but the best sushi I've had around here was toro at Spices, the pan-Asian place in Cleveland Park.

          1. Try Chopsticks in Georgetown

            1. Thanks for all the responses, that's a bunch of great leads I'll try!

              1. Now I've been to Kaz. Like smokey, I was also not impressed. My sushi was fine, but not really great. The "special" Hawaiian Hamachi nigiri I ordered was not as tender or flavorful as the standard hamachi that came in a friend's sashimi bowl. (In addition, the friends that ordered seafood salad were horribly disappointed that it was mixed with mayonnaise, and they couldn't get a no-mayo version.) I wasn't full when I left, and I spent what I consider a reasonable amount, buying one of the dinner sushi sets.

                I think next I'm going to try Kotobuki, but a friend of mine has also been raving about Joss in Annapolis. Anyone have any thoughts on Joss?

                1. Frankly OP, I have to question your tastes a little bit...in San Diego, Sushi Ono is decent at best (gets by on hype) and Sushi Ito flatly sucks. Sushi on the Rock and Zenbu, for all their La Jolla pomp, serve far better sushi than either of those places if one properly orders. So, you have your tastes and preferences, which is fine of course, Lord knows I have mine....but your thoughts won't follow prevailing local opinions on what makes for good sushi.

                  If the recs in this thread don't float your boat, there are a couple of places up in columbia that get raves 'round here, the names escape me but i'm sure they are searchable.

                  21 Replies
                  1. re: Franklun

                    Sadly I didn't get a chance to go to Sushi on the Rock and Zenbu, since I was only there for a short time and no one ever mentioned those places to me. I discovered Chowhound right before I left, and there was mention about some place that doesn't have a storefront and lots of Japanese businessmen go there, but I didn't have time to go before I left. Oh well.

                    Yup, I have my tastes, and the post was about trying to find sushi that fits them, which is why I gave so much background detail. I don't think flashy decor or esoteric rolls or hype make good sushi. I'd prefer really high-quality fish and good sushi rice to a tempura-d roll any day (in fact, I never order tempura rolls anyway). The places I listed as good all had decent quality fish and the rice was fine. But, as I said, I've only found exceptional fish and rice combined at one place on a consistent basis, and I'm trying to find a place like that here. I'll see what I can find by searching for Columbia sushi.

                    1. re: kallisti

                      The 2 in Columbia are:
                      Sushi King (off of Dobbin Rd, next to the MVA)
                      Sushi Sono (off Little Patuxent down by the lake and Clydes)

                      Both are very good.....

                      1. re: stacylyn

                        I know sushi king is chinese owned. I personally have a bias against sushi joints that are not authentic japanese. Their cooked stuff is usually too sweet, and their raw stuff is more quantity than quality.

                        1. re: Chownut

                          Sushi King and Sushi Sono are owned by the same people. I'm a huge fan.

                          And yes, they are Chinese owned, but my Japanese coworker went there on my recommendation and pronounced them excellent.

                          1. re: Chownut

                            I'd have to agree about the Chinese vs Japanese owned sushi joints, although I've been to some that served decent sushi. (And even as a Korean-American I'd have to put Korean sushi in a similar class with Chinese from past experience. Actually some of the worst sushi I've ever had was from Korean places) They seem to do well with special rolls, but for straight ultra fresh nigiri, I'd rather go with Japanese owned. Sushi King and Sushi Sono are good, but I always find their tuna sub-par, and some of the fish not the freshest I've had. I tend to prefer Fuji, a small Japanese-owned joint in a small Ellicott City shopping center. Their variety is more limited and the scale of the restaurant is smaller (because the staff prepares everything from scratch, and the chef works alone), but the sushi is delightful and has that authentic Japanese flair, and the udon and teriyaki are among the best I've ever had.

                          2. re: stacylyn

                            Hey, thanks, that's much more helpful than questioning my taste and not giving any recommendations :) I'm around Dobbin Rd about once a month or so, so I'll try that one out first.

                            1. re: kallisti

                              I don't have a problem with a korean owned sushi joint because sushi is part of their diet. What you won't see is a chinese restaurant with a legit sushi bar, because sushi isn't normally part of their diet in an authentic sense. Wok n' roll? Whatever. It's purely for bandwagon/profit reasons that any chinese joint is selling sushi.

                              I don't get out as much as I used to with regard to experimenting with new sushi joints, but I do like the old standby Tachibana in McLean. Sushi-Ko is not bad either, and to me, better than Kaz's Sushi Bistro, which has been closed several times in the past by the health dept. Not a good sign. I do want to try Kotobuki in the near future though. All of the forementioned of course are authentic Japanese.

                              1. re: Chownut

                                Whether a Japanese restaurant is owned by "authentic Japanese" makes no difference - it's simply whether the place is good or not. Sushi Sono and Sushi King are consistently good with unique rolls, good quality, crispy and not very oily tempura, and great service. To me that makes them worth going to.

                                Interestingly Oishii in Boston (see Kallisti's 1st post) is owned by South Koreans, but I don't think people make any fuss about it as it rates high on almost all critics' lists.

                                If people want to discuss the merits of culture on the authenticity of a cusine, blah blah blah... then folks might be interested to know that Sushi Sono and King are actually Taiwanese owned. In Taiwan raw fish/sushi has a large influence in daily diet as does Japanese culture due to the Occupation.

                                I don't think places like Sushi King and Sushi Sono are jumping on any bandwagen. Sushi King has been opened for quite a while, way before sushi became so trendy in the US. The original owner of Sushi King lived and trained in Japan for many years before setting up shop in Maryland.

                          3. re: kallisti

                            I certainly don't agree with Franklun's condescending tone but I would agree with him that Sushi Itto isn't too good...I don't think I've been to a good chain sushi place. You can do a lot worse though. I do like Ono Sushi despite the hype and all, but they were really big on decor and specialty rolls, so I'm surprised you'd like it. But that's san diego.

                            To give some other folks a frame of reference: In at least half a dozen visits I never saw a single japanese chef at Ono Sushi in San Diego so I don't think "japanese authenticity" is of paramount importance here. So in trying to give kallisti some good tips, let's focus on the places where we always get the freshest fish and consistently tasty sushi.

                            My favorites are Sushi Sono in Columbia, the sushi bar at cross st market in baltimore, Ichiban in McLean. I like Kotobuki too but am usually required to eat at my friend's (non-sushi) restaurant when in the Pallisades.

                            1. re: Lowbar

                              Japanese chef not as important, but a japanese owned joint is much better based on my experience.

                              1. re: Lowbar

                                Huh, well, maybe I just had a good night at Sushi Ito as a fluke. Either way, I certainly didn't find it not-good, and I'm not shy about saying I don't like something :) Ono Sushi (that's the one in the lantern district, right?) was definitely big on decor and ambiance, which was fine as the sushi was good. I didn't think it was as great as the two friends of mine who I was with thought it was, but it certainly wasn't bad. Again, maybe I just caught it on a decent night. There was a place I went to several times in La Jolla that had consistently good hamachi sashimi (a standard for me), but the name escapes me. Decor was not their forte, let's just say. But the sushi was at least as good as at either of the other two places, and less expensive.

                                To clarify a little bit: I don't mind specialty rolls, I just don't automatically think a place is good if it has them. I think my favorite sushi in the world is a specialty roll at Oishii, but it's outstanding, as is the rest of their menu. Fresh fish, excellent rice, great chefs (Japanese, though I don't discriminate). So I certainly have nothing against specialty rolls, but their presence on a menu is not a measure of quality by itself.

                                If you could only go to one sushi restaurant in the country (contiguous 48), where would you pick?

                                I'll check out your recs. I'm always up for sushi. My favorite food, in case anyone couldn't tell.

                                1. re: kallisti

                                  1) Nobody responded to your question regarding Joss Cafe. I think its very good, would make for a nice lunch on an early autumn Annapolis day trip.

                                  2) Not DC/B-more focused but to respond to your post...Ono Sushi is not in the gaslamp district, so maybe you're thinking of somewhere else. Taka perhaps. Or Kiyo's. Or Sushi Bar Nippon. There is also a Sushi Itto down there which is a few years old, as well as several other new places which have opened in the past couple of years. Of the sushi bars I have been to in the contiguous 48, I would choose Sushi on the Rock in La Jolla. I have not been to Oishii but this isn't the first I've heard of it, and all reports have been excellent. Its on my list if I'm ever sent to Boston again.

                                  1. re: kallisti

                                    I've eaten at Joss Cafe many times in the past and liked it a lot. It's misleading because it doesn't look like a sushi bar. Two doors down, there's Nikko, a chinese owned sushi/teppanyaki joint. Stick with Joss Cafe on Main St.

                                    Also, there's an american (ie. Caucasian) owned sushi wannabe joint in Annapolis called Tsunami. I've never eaten there, but it's a big misleanding. At that time, there was no full sushi bar offering and they only had select rolls. It's mostly a pan asian joint.

                                    1. re: kallisti

                                      "If you could only go to one sushi restaurant in the country (contiguous 48), where would you pick? "

                                      Folks, once again, please keep this thread focused on sushi in the DC/Baltimore area. If you'd like to discuss this question, please start a new thread on the General Topics board. We'll be removing further off topic posts.

                                  2. re: kallisti

                                    That place with no name is Izakaya Sakura. one of the best places i have ever eaten sushi at.

                                  3. re: Franklun

                                    Frankly FranklunI would have to question your tastes as well, Sushi on the Rock and Zenbu are both mediocre as well. Izakaya sakura and suhi ota both serve phenomenal sushi.

                                    As fo rth eDC area, i havent lived there in a couple of years but my two favourites were Sushi Ko and Makoto. Nothing else could top those places for nigiri/sashimi

                                    1. re: MVNYC

                                      Wait am I thinking of Sushi Ota instead of Ono Sushi? There was one trendy one in the gaslamp district (I think I called it the lantern district before) and one kind of in PB, both of which I went to. How the memory fades.... and yes, I think it was Izakaya sakura with the no-storefront aesthetic.

                                      I'm definitely going to try Makoto sometime as well, I've heard too much to stay away.

                                      1. re: kallisti

                                        Trendy in Gaslamp could be any of the ones I mentioned. Sushi Ota is "kind of in PB" but away from the beach right off I-5 (at the PB exit - grand ave). Sushi Ota is excellent but due to its location not very popular. Decor is basic but the fish is outstanding. Right up my alley. Maybe you meant that instead of Sushi Ito.

                                        Anyway, before I get slapped for talking about non-DC topics....please do report back on your experiences in sushi bars around DC because it sounds like our tastes might be pretty similar, and I haven't explored around here too much. Do check out Kotobuki in DC and Ichiban in McLean, a place which I like a lot.

                                        1. re: Lowbar

                                          Ota I went to definitely.

                                          I think next up is Kotobuki, where I will get uni. Hopefully this will happen next weekend. I will definitely report back.

                                          1. re: kallisti

                                            Failed to get uni when I last went to get sushi, next time though!

                                          2. re: Lowbar

                                            Well, we didn't go to Kotobuki, we went to Makoto instead and got the Omakase. It was a 10-course meal, and it was very enjoyable. It was a couple weeks ago now, though, so let me see if I can remember it correctly, as I might have the course order mixed up. And forgive me if I don't know the right names for everything.

                                            1 - Seafood soup/broth-type thing with mussels in it. This was not outstanding, but nice enough.

                                            2 - I totally can't remember what this was, I want to say it involved cooked shrimp somehow.... oh well. It was yummy, anyway.

                                            3 - Sushi. Three pieces of nigiri, one each of Spanish mackerel, yellowtail, and tuna. I'd never had Spanish mackerel before, and it was great. The tuna was definitely the highlight, really excellent. Yellowtail was also very good, but not as good at the tuna.

                                            4 - Soft shell crab with real rice krispies on the outside. I mean rice krispies as in they took actual rice and did the same sort of thing so it looked kind of like the cereal. They gave you a little bit of wasabi and chili powder to "dip" the soft shell crab in -- very pleasant. This was one of the better courses.

                                            5 - Sashimi. Two pieces of tuna, two of yellowtail, two of a white fish, maybe flounder. The tuna was transcendent. Really, really fabulous. I then understood why they had an option to get only tuna sashimi.

                                            6 - Snails. Little snails that appear to have been steamed (or something) in their shells. These were a little chewy, didn't have much flavor as far as I could tell, and were okay but not great. I'd never had snails before, so I can't compare them to anything else.

                                            7 - Seafood/meat/mushroom cooked at the table. This is where they brought over one of those heated metal bowls and put it over a flame and cooked the seafood in front of you while you were still eating the previous course. They gave each person one shrimp, one scallop, a bit of thinly-sliced beef, and a mushroom cap. They also gave you a little bowl of ponzu sauce (maybe?) to dip them in. This course was really good.

                                            8 - Your choice of several cooked entree-type things. Beef with mustard sauce, cod with miso sauce, orange roughy with a gingery sauce (I believe), and one other thing I forget that neither of us got. Beef was really excellent, orange roughy was good but not quite excellent -- a little too dry.

                                            9 - Udon. Buckwheat noodles in broth, your choice of vegetable, seafood, or mushroom. This was pleasant but not overwhelmingly good.

                                            10 - Berry flavored shaved ice. This was a welcome treat and end to the meal given that it was really quite warm in there. I ate mine right up. Delicious.

                                            Overall, a very nice meal. Makoto was much smaller than I expected, I think I counted like 30 seats or so. I liked the sushi bar, though we were at a table; the food preparation area was sunken, so people sitting at the bar could see down into where the chefs were doing their thing.

                                            It was quite warm, as I mentioned. You are required to take your shoes off and wear their slippers, and since the place is so small, you sit on wooden stools with storage built-in for purses, etc. You have to pay for water, and they give you a small small glass. When we went, it was almost full, and it took a while for us to get a waitress (one of the two) to help us, but once the omakase got started, the service was impeccable.

                                            Oh, the omakase cost $49 per person, which is a steal for omakases. You have the option of upgrading the sashimi to just tuna, or whatever else your little heart desires. Just beware, the sky's the limit on price for sashimi upgrades. We stuck with just the regular.

                                            I am glad we got the omakase instead of just sushi, but next time I'm definitely going to go with just sushi/sashimi (that tuna, oh my).

                                            So there you go, that's my Makoto experience!

                                    2. Sushi Taro is the best, if you haven't tried that yet you must. If it doens't live up, then you outta luck since you've tried just about all other consistently highly rated places.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: v man

                                        If i'm out of luck, I'll just have to bear down and make my own. It'll only take years of traning, but it's worth it for good sushi. :)

                                        1. re: kallisti

                                          There was one post so far that reference Akasaka off of Van Dorn in Alexandria. I'm not sure how recently that poster has been there but my husband and I were just there tonight and had a lovely dinner with no odd smells in the dining room. I would recommend it.
                                          Also - if you are looking to take a class in sushi making, take a look at www.tastedc.com or http://tastedc.com/cgi-bin/events.cgi...

                                      2. I completely agree. I think Sushi Taro consistently serves up the best tasting sushi in the area. Kaz and Sushi-Ko are both good (I think Sushi-Ko is better than Kaz), but both serve more artsy nouveau sushi that tends to be on the smaller side. If you want a more Nobu-like experience of mixed sushi and non-sushi dishes, Sushi-Ko comes closest (although it's really not in Nobu's neighborhood as far as flavor and excitement), but if you want serious raw fish, some yakitori, and some well done tempura, Sushi Taro is the place.

                                        I particularly like their rainbow roll, incidentally, because they fill it with spicy tuna. Yum.

                                        10 Replies
                                        1. re: Ootek1

                                          So where is Sushi Taro? I agree, I thought Sushi-Ko was better than Kaz, and yeah Kaz was definitely into the modern artsy sushi thing.

                                          I don't particularly care about mixed dishes, I love sushi so much that when I go to a place where I can have sushi, I have to order it. I get non-sushi items less than 5% of the time, and almost never for an entree. I can't help it, really.

                                          And re: Nobu, I was actually kind of disappointed at the one in Vegas, which is the only one I've been to. I was expecting to be blown away, but it didn't live up to the expectation. Two dishes were divine (we got the omakase): the Black Miso-Glazed Cod and the chocolate dessert. The Tuna Tartare was good, but the sushi course itself was mediocre at best, and the other hot cooked entree was also mediocre. The amaebi sashimi nouveau was decent, but not my cup of tea -- a little too oily. So I can only hope that the one in NYC (which I'd like to visit) is better.

                                          Really, I'm looking for two sushi places. One that blows me away, and one that's a good trade-off between quality and price. But I think I've found the latter in Niwano Hana, though it's a bit more than I paid in Boston for my regular sushi place (though the regular sushi was not as good as at Niwano Hana, so...). So I'm still looking for a place to just leave me with a glazed, happy look on my face.

                                          1. re: kallisti

                                            Sushi Taro is in Dupont Circle, 17th and P street above the CVS. I think they still offer validated parking across the street. I've been there a few times, and it's good, but I didn't find it mind blowing. I think you may enjoy the experience better sitting at the bar rather than at one of the tables.

                                            Out of this entire area, the best spicy tuna hand roll that I've ever had was at Genji, in Falls Church. I used to frequet this place a lot during weekends because they had the best lunch deals. For a real, japanese owned sushi joint, they also do Teppanyaki. Also, don't be mislead by the decor. I think it used to be some sort of Austrian or Bavarian type of restaurant and the owner didn't bother removing the decor when he put in the Japanese decor. Owner/sushi chef is a bit ornery, but he's an expert and has tasty offerings.

                                            1. re: Chownut

                                              Excellent, I work in Dupont Circle. What are the lunchtime prices like?

                                              I'm so glad I'm getting recommendations for sushi. Thanks :)

                                              1. re: kallisti

                                                Here you go!


                                                On a side note, a long time ago, I went to Tako Grill in Bethesda and they offered Japanese Blowfish (aka. Fugu). It was about $30/two pieces. I mentioned this to my Japanese dentist at the time, and he questioned the authenticity. He said in Japan, it goes for about $200/two pieces. If you can get a rerun of Anthony Bourdain's traveler show where he visits Japan, you will see some really exotic sushi, and cooked foods, including blowfish.

                                                More info on Kaz's fugu.


                                                1. re: kallisti

                                                  Well, I went to Sushi Taro for lunch. Yay! The fish was gooood. I got the lunch special chirashi bowl. From the first piece of salmon, I knew it was going to be good. From the first look, actually, as the tuna and yellowtail and salmon all looked like you'd want them to look. And, the looks didn't disappoint.

                                                  There were, I think, two pieces each of salmon, tuna, and yellowtail, and one each of squid, eel, tamago, clam, I want to say halibut but some white fish, mushroom, lobster roe (I believe), daikon, shrimp tempura, and something I couldn't identify. As I hoped, though, the tuna, salmon and yellowtail were the highlights. Yum. I will definitely go back.

                                                  As a side note, immediately upon walking in I feel confident about the place as there were lots of Japanese in there. It did get a little loud in the middle of the lunch hour, but it was bearable. And the sushi was great. I'm so glad I went.

                                                  1. re: kallisti

                                                    Oh, PS. I saw something when I was still in Boston and looking for DC sushi places about Kaz's fugu. Makes me a little nervous if they've been closed for health violations though....

                                                    I definitely wouldn't get it at Tako Grill, I didn't like that place much at all. It wasn't bad, but it was definitely mediocre.

                                                    I'll look for that episode, I love Bourdain.

                                                    1. re: kallisti

                                                      Did you or do you usually get something to drink with your raw stuff? Sashimi goes great with hot sake. Good way to sort of cleanse your mouth also, without the sweetness that ginger gives you. Japanese beer is ok also, but it can make you feel bloated later due to the carbonation.

                                                      1. re: kallisti

                                                        Actually, I usually get green tea, but didn't this time because I didn't want anything to fill my stomach that wasn't sushi. Then it turns out the chirashi came with miso, salad, dessert, and that egg-custardy thing whose name I can't remember. I ate sparingly of all that wasn't raw fish.

                                                        One of the things I'm sad about is that I've never liked sake. I have tried sake frequently; I've tried okay sake, I've tried sake that friends say is the best sake they've ever had. I haven't like any of it, hot or cold. So, no, I didn't have sake. And no beer either, since I also don't like beer. Water for me, all the way.

                                                        1. re: kallisti

                                                          That's probably good that you don't like sake because sake gives the worst hangover, but hot sake has a heckuva hot burn going down.

                                                          If you ever try Tachibana in McLean, they probably have the best green tea. It's filtered through toasted rice so it has a nice flavor. Tachibana is probably my favorite authentic sushi joint, with great lunch specials, especially the sashimi. If you can make it out there, I'd recommend it.


                                                          1. re: kallisti

                                                            I'll definitely try it at some point. I'm so glad I revived this thread, I've gotten such good recommendations now. And I had good sushi for lunch. Yay sushi!

                                                    2. The quality/price place you want is definitely Kotobuki. By far the best value in town for very good, consistent, but not mind-blowing, sushi. Order the scallops, the uni, the ankimo appetizer, and (usually) the toro. Apart from sushi, I like the kamameishi (sp?), too -- vegetables at Kotobuki really shine.

                                                      As far as I know, there is not a sushi restaurant in the DC area that will blow you away in the way that a dozen places in NY will. Sushi-Ko is the best. Sorry about that.

                                                      11 Replies
                                                      1. re: MartyL

                                                        Hm, seems my earlier reply disappeared. I was saying that that was funny because in Boston my favorite sushi place was across from a Japanese market called Kotobukiya. The sushi place was called Bluefin, and it definitely didn't have mind-blowing sushi, but it was consistently good, and didn't break the bank. I miss Bluefin.

                                                        What are the places in NYC that would blow me away? I'm willing to use visiting my friends there as an excuse to eat sushi :)

                                                        Should I really order the uni at Kotobuki? I've been wary of trying it, because I figured I should try it first at the place where I can get it best to maximize my chance of liking it.

                                                        1. re: kallisti

                                                          Unless a sushi joint is offering Uni freshly removed from the spiny shell, it'll all taste the same. Most sushi joints use Uni that's preboxed in those wood containers. You can buy this at a Korean market. Uni has a unique flavor...a buttery texture with a burnt/pungent flavor, although it's milder when it's freshest. Freshest meaning you're not getting the last piece from the container. If I were you, I'd just hit a sushi joint that you like a lot, and try the uni during dinnertime on a friday or saturday night, which is typically when the freshest fish is served.

                                                          1. re: Chownut

                                                            Fully agree, your best bet is to find a place that's cutting the tops off the urchins in front of you. Not sure I've seen a place that does that around here. I could bore you with the science behind it, but you will find uni tastes increasingly more of iodine (yucky) as it ages. Since most would agree that the best uni comes from southern california red urchins, your best bet to get the best stuff is to try it at a place out there on your next visit.

                                                            Around here, unless you can find a place cutting urchins before your eyes (which increases your chances of good uni but doesn't gaurantee it), the best thing you can look for is color. The brighter the color (yellow or orange), the better...also firmer texture but that's harder to tell when not doing a side by side comparison (and without ordering it first).

                                                            1. re: Lowbar

                                                              Well actually, I *have* been waiting to find a place with live uni to try it. But alright, I'll get it next time I go for sushi. :)

                                                              1. re: Lowbar

                                                                Since I can't reply to your reply to my reply, I'll reply here...I can't say there isn't a place with live uni around here, I just haven't seen it with my own two eyes. I'm by no means an expert on the local sushi scene.

                                                                Just look for that distinctive bright color. If its pale or greyed, pass on it.

                                                                1. re: Lowbar

                                                                  I was having that reply problem too, I was like where'd the button go? I think the result of this is that I'm forgoeing the lunch sandwich and heading to Sushi Taro. I can't take the lack of sushi anymore!

                                                                  1. re: Lowbar

                                                                    I don't think we can further reply to other's replies because it would branch out too far to the right. This format limits the number of replies, unlike with the old setup.

                                                                    1. re: Lowbar

                                                                      Kotobuki is a great place to try the uni because it's as cheap as you'll find anywhere and just as good. Kotobuki is my value sushi place. An easy way to tell about the uni - look at the bar! The fish is sitting right there for a reason. Since you concentrate on the raw stuff, you should sit at the bar and ask for the chef's recommnedations.

                                                                      Sushi Taro is my pick if I'm going to spend more for higher quality sushi. Tachibana in McLean is very good too.

                                                                      Tako Grill is higher priced than necessary but has better quality fish than most places in MoCo. I've been to Niwano Hana a couple times and have had mostly rolls, which are not the way to go there - I've found that the combinations are too complex or there's such an extreme amount of heavy sauce piled on that the flavor is ruined.

                                                                      1. re: Lowbar

                                                                        Okay, I'll get the uni when I go to Kotobuki. Now I just need to find a time to go....

                                                                        See, I just wasn't that impressed with Tako Grill. I didn't think the fish was that good quality the couple times I went, and I'd easily go to Niwano Hana above Tako Grill.

                                                                        I do like the rolls at Niwano Hana, though it depends which ones. I get the Salmango roll, which is really good, though I was scared of trying it initially, thinking "Mango on sushi?". My boyfriend loves the tako maki and the Almendras and the spicy scallop roll. I don't find them to be as good as the Salmango, but I am never disappointed with them. I disagree that the combinations are too complex and I haven't found them to have too much sauce. I stay away from rolls (at Niwano Hana and everywhere) with cream cheese or spicy mayo in them, or that are tempura-ed, though, so I can't speak to those.

                                                                        I also like the quality of their fish, as I order a bunch of nigiri as well (and my standby hamachi sashimi). Overall I'm certainly pleased with Niwano Hana, but clearly looking to expand my DC area sushi horizons.

                                                                    2. re: kallisti

                                                                      Please head to the NYC boards to discuss sushi in that area. This helps us keep this board focused on the great sushi in this area. Thanks.

                                                                    3. re: MartyL

                                                                      Mind blowing sushi just leaves a bigger hole in your pocket. At the end, you'll be hungry again in about 2 hours regardless.

                                                                    4. Kansai on Maple in Vienna, near Magruder's has the best sushi we've had in the area for a long time. It's Japanese, not Korean, the fish is fresh and delicious and there are some very inventive items on the menu. The prices are moderate but the quality is high and the small staff is exceptionally friendly.

                                                                      1. Does anyone know of a good sushi place in the arlington area? I have tried sushi taro and it is really delicious, but sometimes cant make it to dupont for lunch.

                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Ellenfo

                                                                          There are a few options in the arlington area. One is a new joint in Pentagon Row that I've not tried. It's not a traditional type of sushi joint, but kind of nouveau like. Another joint is a teppankyi place inside the building where the sister restaurant of Jaleo is. I'd avoid it. I had the spider roll there once, and instead of using soft shell, they battered up a hard shell. Matuba is the old standby on Columbia Pike, but it's a bit scary. If you drive there, they have parking in the rear, but you have to walk by the stinky dumpster, and then see the rat traps on the kitchen floors before heading to the dining area. There is or was a Bonsai Grill in Shirlington that was decent, but it's korean owned. I think there's a Bonsai down the street from the Crystal City restaurant, but it wasn't memorable. There's a sushi joint inside Ballston Commons, but that wasn't good either, and now I hear that there's a chain across the street from Ballston which is supposedly good. There's also a sushi joint in the Courthouse plaza, that's korean owned, and so so.

                                                                          For the most part, if I'm in arlington, I'd take Glebe to 309 toward McClean where Tachibana is. Tachibana used to be in Arlington before they moved to McLean about 10 years ago.

                                                                          1. re: Ellenfo

                                                                            Sushi-Zen on Harrison is pretty good, not great, but tasty and reasonably fresh. Nice presentation, good service, pretty kid friendly, but not over the top about it. Worth checking out for lunch, but I wouldn't drive miles to get there.

                                                                            1. re: Ellenfo

                                                                              Bonsai Grill on 23rd Street near Crystal City (just west of it) varies from pretty good to excellent, probably depending on the phase of the moon. They don't always have toro (which is my favorite), but when they do, it is often awesome. I've eaten at Sushi Taro MANY times (in DC), and I use that as my standard; Bonsai Grill often meets or exceeds their quality.

                                                                              BG is closer for me, parking is easy (neighborhood), there is typically NO wait (unlike Sushi Taro, where a 30 to 60 or longer wait isn't uncommon), and the prices are much cheaper. I always order ala carte, so I can't say anything about the various platters; that may also be the reason they always start me off with miso soup and a small salad with an interesting peanut dressing. There's like 7 tables or so (2 and 4 seaters) plus the sushi bar that seats around 6. Another 4 tables outside, for those few nice weather days. I love their spicy tuna rolls (which I request with no cucumber), and have good things to say about their salmon, yellowtail, and eel. Closed on Mondays. (I've forgotten that too many times!)

                                                                              Service is always friendly, with the same waitress and sushi chef. It's nice to be remembered each time I visit. These new people bought the place a while back; apparently the earlier management didn't make for a great restaurant.

                                                                              I also tried the Matsutake Sushi & Steak in Crystal City (on a Monday <g>). Huge place, but the spice tuna rolls were very spicy (hiding something?), and the sushi wasn't memorable. Prices were good, though. I think most of their business is at lunch, as they are set up for doing big buffets.

                                                                              1. re: Filmnut

                                                                                Oh good, it's always good to compare a place I haven't been to a place I know. :)

                                                                                Fortunately, I only visit Sushi Taro at lunch, as it's near where I work, so there's never any wait. Since I go at lunch, they have toro if I want it, but I've been too late for toro sometimes at Niwano Hana, and I know the disappointment.

                                                                                I rarely trust places that are sushi and ____, like Matsutake, but BG sounds worth a trip!

                                                                            2. I live in Annapolis and we love Joss Cafe. I've been going there for years. They have a lot of unique selections. It's not the best I've ever had, but it's the best in this area. I've been disappointed with Sushi Taro and Kaz. I'm interested in trying Makoto and I've heard good things about Sushi Ko from friends.

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: isabellaflynn

                                                                                Makoto is better for their multicourse meal "Omikase" rather than just as a sushi joint. A better option for sushi nearby is Kotobuki. I'm so so about Sushi Taro, Sakana, Cafe Japone, and Uni in Dupont, with ST being the best. Sushi Ko is good, but portions small and the decor reminds you of a deserted department store in there. Not impressed with Kaz.

                                                                              2. I haven't tried it - I just noticed it actually and am wondering if anyone else has tried it - it's a sushi joint (forget the name) next to Bilbo Baggins in Old Town.... ?

                                                                                1. I just got back from a business trip to DC and stayed in Dupont. I went to Sushi Taro twice. It was really good and there was a wide variety of fish you normally do not see. When i went back for lunch i found the sushi lunch b which was 7 or so pieces and a slamon avacado roll for $12 to be a great deal. The nigiri were varied and included spanish mackeral, medium fatty tuna, fatty salmon amongst others.

                                                                                  I also have to say the Ikura there is fantastic. Sweet and salty at the same time. I would reccomend this to anyone in the area.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: MVNYC

                                                                                    I probably would have gotten the sushi lunch B when I went, but then I was seduced by the lunch special chirashi bowl.

                                                                                    I have not historically been a fan of Ikura, but maybe I'll try it the next time I go there.

                                                                                  2. You mentioned you were willing to drive a ways. I can't say I'd drive quite this far if I were you, but FWIW, Edo Sushi in Timonium, MD (They also have locations downtown and in Owings Mills) is some of the best sushi I've ever had, and their sushi beats Drunken Fish in St. Louis hands-down. (I'm from St. Louis originally). Their web site is http://www.edosushimd.com/EdoI&amp;II... .

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: darkesnow

                                                                                      Well, I probably wouldn't go on a weeknight, but maybe it's in the cards eventually! Thanks!

                                                                                    2. I heartily second Jeanki's recommendation for Fuji Restaurant in Ellicott City. Although I live in Boston, I grew up in MD and I go everytime I'm down there for a visit. My parents also go there at least once a week; we've been consistently going there for years, ever since it opened.

                                                                                      Compared to the Boston sushi places I've been to: Fugakyu, Ginza (Chinatown and Brookline locations), Oishii (Chestnut Hill location), Zen Japanese Grill, Ma Soba, and other smaller locations), Fuji stands head and shoulders above them all in terms of quality. You won't find much by way of trendy designer rolls but if you're looking for traditional absolutely fresh nigiri and sashimi, you won't be disappointed. In fact, my family has been so spoiled by the consistent freshness and quality that I can honestly say that I'm pretty disappointed with the sushi in Boston (then again, I have yet to try Douzo and Uni). Don't get me wrong, I love the udon at Fugakyu, the rolls at the Chinatown Ginza, and the omakase at Chestnut Hill Oishii but IMHO, Fuji outranks them when it comes to traditional fare.

                                                                                      The Fuji sushi chef is Japanese and his wife is Korean (although she lived in Japan after going there for school). Both are just great hardworking people and are extremely dedicated to providing quality food. I know for a fact that they head out to the Baltimore fish markets every single day without fail in the early early am for their fish.

                                                                                      Their nabeyake udon is also very good compared to other restaurants as is their seaweed salad. My sister once had a craving for their seaweed salad so the owner prepared a large tub of it for my sister to take back with her to NYC and she ate the whole darn thing! (The tub was one of those yellow large plastic tubs for tofu). I also love the salad dressing the owner makes but she won't give me or my mom her recipe... *boo*

                                                                                      Can you tell I love this restaurant? I wish I could just transplant it to Boston... *sigh*

                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: pokie

                                                                                        I do like Fuji too. The folks in ellicott city / columbia are lucky to have several excellent sushi options closeby.

                                                                                        1. re: pokie

                                                                                          I'm glad someone else appreciates what a special little joint Fuji is. I also make sure I visit there whenever I go back to Maryland to visit the folks (I'm in NYC now). They were saying business wasn't as hopping as it used to be with all the competition around, but I say there is no comparison. If you want the real deal, Fuji is it. (That salad dressing, I agree, is da bomb.) The owners are indeed the sweetest, hardest working people around.

                                                                                          1. re: pokie

                                                                                            Woah. If you say Fuji is better than Oishii... then I have to go, because Oishii thus far has been my standard. I haven't been to Zen Japanese Grill or Ma Soba, but now I really want to try Fuji.

                                                                                            Really, better than Oishii?? Wow.

                                                                                            1. re: kallisti

                                                                                              I've only ordered takeout from Zen and I wasn't impressed - designer rolls drenched in sauce *yuck* and another time, I just ordered simple basic spicy tuna roll and the fish was not fresh (i.e., it smelled). Given my takeout experiences, I probably won't ever feel compelled to dine there.

                                                                                              I like Ma Soba better but it is inconsistent. Sometimes their sushi is fresh, and sometimes not. You'll have better luck with their rolls and I do like their designer roll offerings although there have been times when the rolls were not made well and fell apart as soon as you picked up a piece.

                                                                                              I wouldn't say Fuji is better than Oishii but that in terms of freshness, they're equal. Oishii is better at creativity while Fuji is better when it comes to traditional fare/experience that you'd find in Japan.

                                                                                              1. re: pokie

                                                                                                I still haven't made it out to Ellicott City... but man I could use some good sushi. (Though really, when is that not the case?) I've been to Sushi Taro a couple more times, and been happy each time with the quality of the fish.

                                                                                                And actually, once when I went to Niwano Hana I had really fantastically excellent hamachi sashimi. Definitely as good as I've had anywhere else (though the baby hamachi at Oishii is just another level entirely and I'm not counting that). It was much better than their normal yellowtail sashimi, which is pretty good. It's only happened that once, though.

                                                                                          2. kallisti - I moved here from NY more than 10 years ago - and I've missed great sushi a lot too. The only place I've found the same melt in your mouth, like butter, incredibly fresh fish is Makoto, which you've already tried. I thought Kotobuki (that's the one above it, right?) was supposed to be the same owner, right? I don't know - but i went there once and it was OK. I'll have to try it again. I'll try some of the others listed here too. Thanks for asking because I've had he same question for 10 years and am grateful for some of the suggestions here!

                                                                                            I've tried the popular ones - Sushi Ko, Tachibana - and they're OK, but not the same blissful experience as some places I've been in NY, LA, Tokyo. i haven't tried Sushi taro or Niwano Hana - but now I will.

                                                                                            11 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: sschow

                                                                                              I really liked the couple pieces of fish I had at Makoto, and haven't had a chance to go back there yet for just sushi, as opposed to the omakase. I also haven't gone to Kotobuki, which you're correct, is the one above Makoto. I haven't tried Tachibana yet, but I've been really happy going to Sushi Taro -- they haven't let me down yet, and when I was there last Tuesday, the Toro was deeeeelicious.

                                                                                              Additionally, Niwano Hana has gotten better for me lately. I have been ordering more sashimi, including ordering the Toro (which isn't cheap at $10 for two pieces, but is so worth it), so maybe that's one of the reasons I've been liking it more. A month or two ago, I went there and had a meal that left me smiling and giving a large tip to the sushi bar. It included the Salmango (salmon and mango over an avocado and imitation crab inside out roll topped with black tobiko), the Toro, some whitefish nigiri, hamachi sashimi, the dragon roll (which is a serious roll, it's huge and does look like a dragon, with eyes and antennae and everything), and some others.

                                                                                              Let me know how you feel about them, if and when you do go, and any other places you find.

                                                                                              1. re: kallisti

                                                                                                One important detail to factor in is which day of the week you're dining at the restaurant. For the freshest fish, Friday and Saturday are the best days. Tuesdays and Wednesdays not so good. Also, you may be more likely to get the best cut if you're eating at the bar.

                                                                                                1. re: Chownut

                                                                                                  I completely forgot -- there is all-you-can-eat sushi at Sushi Taro on Saturday April 7. They open at 11:30 am, I believe, and the price is $35 for each adult. For children it's less, but I don't recall the price. Seatings continue til 8 or 8:30 pm.

                                                                                                  1. re: kallisti

                                                                                                    Does this feast offer sashimi, or "you must eat the rice!"

                                                                                                    1. re: Chownut

                                                                                                      From the website:

                                                                                                      Come Enjoy Our Cherry Blossom Special

                                                                                                      ALL YOU CAN EAT from CHERRY BLOSSOM BUFFET

                                                                                                      12:30 - 8:00 PM
                                                                                                      (Last seating at 7:30)

                                                                                                      Saturday, April 7, 2007

                                                                                                      $35.00 per person (12 and over)

                                                                                                      $15.00 6 - 11 years old

                                                                                                      $10.00 5 and younger

                                                                                                      Includes Tax & Tip / Beverages are sold cash only.

                                                                                                      And when I called just now, they said no sashimi, but "sushi, tempura, yakitori, things like that".

                                                                                                  2. re: Chownut

                                                                                                    On what are you basing this? Tell me not some Tony Bourdain junk. Fresh sushi grade fish can come in at any time usually except Sundays and Mondays.

                                                                                                    1. re: jpschust

                                                                                                      Highest turnover is on weekends, and they usually stock up for the weekend. Slowest time of the week is Tuesday and Wednesday where they get rid of stuff that's been sitting. That's the reality in this industry, and especially in the food business where NOTHING is wasted.

                                                                                                      1. re: Chownut

                                                                                                        True, though usually a good shop will portion well and by Tuesday the remaining weekend stock will be gone. Ideally. A lot of that junk is gotten rid of by doing sushi specials (dollar sushi) yech.

                                                                                                        1. re: jpschust

                                                                                                          One of my favorite rolls is the spicy tuna hand roll. Unfortunately, a lot of times, the chopped tuna/mayo mixture is premade. One place that makes it fresh, usually, is Genji in Falls Church, since I think very few people order it. It was the best spicy tuna hand roll that I've ever eaten.

                                                                                                          As big a fan as I am for Tachibana's fare, their spicy tuna hand rolls are filled with a mound of tasteless and spicyless tuna. It's been like that for the longest time. Also, korean joints never get it right. All they do is slice some tasteless tuna, and then squeeze some Sriracha onto it.

                                                                                                          I am though, a big fan of Tachibana's lunch offerings, and they're especially fresh on weekends. A lot of times, you can see them carving up a whole fish right there in preparation for dinner.

                                                                                                          1. re: Chownut

                                                                                                            I was reluctant to even post anything on this thread because I can tell everyone is much more of a sushi expert than me. But, I saw your post and had to respond because my very favorite think ever for sushi is the spicy tuna hand roll! I go to Akasaka often, despite the grandmother's basement smell of the place, because I really like their spicy tuna hand roll (they are really nice to my kids too). Anyway, next time I am in Falls Church I'll be sure to try Genji. Thanks for the info. For what it's worth, I also really like Yama Sushi in Vienna and Sushi-Ko. Thought Kaz was overpriced and disappointing.

                                                                                                            1. re: baconjen

                                                                                                              I'm glad you'll consider Genji. Just don't get turned off by the decor. I wrote here awhile ago and gave it the best description that I could, saying it reminded me of a Bavarian Ski lodge that was converted into a sushi joint without removing any of the previous decor. It's a bit dank inside too. Also, it's the only authentic sushi joint that I've been to that has a few teppanyaki grills.

                                                                                                              But, the grub is good, and the miso soup is the best I've ever had, although it's a bit lukewarm, not piping hot. Really tasty cali rolls too. The sushi chef is a bit ornery, but he knows what he's doing. I've also seen him tell customers that the amount of food they've ordered is enough, and to not order any more. His spicy tuna hand rolls are very small, and can almost be eaten in one bite. I've seen him chop up the fresh tuna, mix it with his seasonings in a bowl, and then wrap it up. I think he puts a little bit of cucumber in it too. Not overly spicy, but a lot of flavor mostly from the fish....almost as if he used toro instead or dark red maguro. One great lunch special is the sushi noodle. It's a bowl of udon noodles with tempura, and it comes also with a small plate of sushi, for about $8.

                                                                                                              I just hope I didn't overhype it and that you like it. Just make sure you don't get there after closing time, because I've seen him turn away "gravely hungry" customers one minute after closing.

                                                                                              2. Sushi Kappo Kawasaki is fantastic--very authentic. The fish smelled like the sea. Very nice indeed. Sushi Taro is my fave lunch spot (note--the dinner prices are much higher). Taro's lunch specials are great--really authentic, interesting mix of flavors and combinations.

                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: foodslut

                                                                                                  I am excited for the Grand Sushi and Sake tasting in April -- I should have posted that earlier here, I hope someone else did! I think tickets are sold out now, but it's associated with the National Cherry Blossom Festival. http://www.nationalgeographic.com/ngl... is the link for it. Sushi Taro participates, I believe.

                                                                                                  1. re: kallisti

                                                                                                    I'll tell you San Sushi in Timonium, MD is superb. Always the best fish. A little far from DC but worth it.

                                                                                                    1. re: thedanny

                                                                                                      I still haven't managed to get out to the burbs to try any of the sushi joints there, like Sushi Sono etc. One day. San Sushi is yet another to add to the list. Is it a place that takes reservations, or do you just have to brave the weekend dinner rush?

                                                                                                2. Just in case anyone is keeping track:

                                                                                                  The all you can eat sushi at Sushi Taro was a 2 hour wait, but soooooo worth it, even in the cold. They had the whole long sushi bar set up as a buffet with chefs making sushi behind it. At the beginning, there was a dish of small size inside out rolls. You could also ask for the spider rolls they had behind the counter, and they'd give you three. They also had spicy tuna rolls back there. They had a small tray of hand rolls which they replenished frequently, and they were *delicious*. Then there were lots of trays of nigiri, mostly tuna, salmon, yellowtail, eel, cooked shrimp, some mackerel. There was one sushi chef who was doling out scallop nigiri with a hefty dollop of wasabi, and he had a tray of squid as well. I saw people with tamago, but didn't see where they got it.

                                                                                                  Then there was the toro and uni station. They told you to only take one piece of toro and uni at a time, but you could go back up there as many times as you wanted. Yes, you read me right. All the toro you can eat. Heaven.

                                                                                                  Then there was all the cooked food, which included gyoza, shumai, yakitori, ika salad, some thing which I don't know the name of but was like a fried ball of something with crispy stuff on the outside, tempura, etc. There was udon, and a big platter of fruit and brownies for dessert. Oh, and green tea and water.

                                                                                                  Next year, I'm going to get there much earlier, since waiting was a pain in the butt, and the line was just as long when we left as when we got there. It seemed to be a steady state, so I plan on getting there to be one of the first seated.

                                                                                                  But, at $35, this was really a fantastic deal.

                                                                                                  Beverages other than water and green tea were on a cash basis, btw.

                                                                                                  1. In contrast to the all you can eat sushi at Sushi Taro, the Grand Sushi and Sake Tasting at the National Geographic Museum was soooo not worth $95.

                                                                                                    Perhaps if I'd had lots and lots of sake it would have been worth it. But I didn't, and it wasn't.

                                                                                                    There were apparently 5 area restaurants that participated, along with supposedly three master sushi chefs from Japan: Tako Grill, Matuba, Yosaku, Sushi Taro, and Tachibana. Sake, plum wine/liquor and beer were provided by Nishimoto Trading Co, Pacific International Liquor, Sidney Frank Importing Co, and Young Won Trading Inc.

                                                                                                    At the 7 pm door opening, there was a drumming performance by (I think they said) a tae-bo group, and then some opening remarks. The drumming was quite loud, and made it difficult to hear.

                                                                                                    What was disappointing was that each individual restaurant that participated did not get any chance to do anything individual. They all had the same task of making nigiri out of average quality tuna, salmon, yellowtail, eel, shrimp, and the occasional mackerel. There was one station that did rolls exclusively, and a roving Samurai Nobu who translated for a Japanese man with a tray of rolls. You could go up to a bar and get water, soda, or beer, and there was a table with green tea and snacks.

                                                                                                    In an alcove off of the main room was the sake table. I don't know anything about sake; I've tried it many times and never liked it. I guess it's not to be with me and sake, alas. They had more for show than they were actually pouring. They also had some delicious plum wine and what I think they called plum liquor. Additionally there was another table in the main room with some more sake and plum wine concoctions.

                                                                                                    At 8 pm, Samurai Nobu did a tuna-cutting demonstration, which was cool. The head was already removed, and he essentially cut the four large pieces of meat off the tuna, which then made its way back through the crowd never to be seen again.

                                                                                                    A little while later, they had a creative sushi competition with entries from chefs at local restaurants. 7 Japanese judges and 10 audience members as judges rated the offerings, and the winner (from Tako Grill I believe) got a ticket to a contest in London.

                                                                                                    There was also a powerpoint presentation given by one of the grand masters, I assume, that was translated by the hostess for the evening.

                                                                                                    It was a pleasant enough experience, but in no way was it worth $95; perhaps because I didn't drink enough sake. I won't be going back though, because I believe that the quality of the fish just wasn't worth my time and money.

                                                                                                    In summary, do Sushi Taro's all you can eat sushi instead!

                                                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: kallisti

                                                                                                      I am definately not a Sushi expert, but my brother is getting there. His gf lives in long beach and his ex gf was from NY and while he says no DC sushi compares to some he has had in either of those two cities he reccommends a little place called sushi zen as the best in the DC area. It is in the shopping center in Falls Church with the Harris Teeter. It is just a really small Mom and Pop place not incredible ambiance, but that is his rec I will pass on to you.

                                                                                                      1. re: kallisti

                                                                                                        Kallisti, thanks for the report on the Grand Sushi/Sake Tasting. I was bummed I had to miss it but feel better now. Although I do love sake. Next time you are in Vegas, check out Shintaro at the Bellagio. Blows Nobu away. Best yellowtail I've ever had and tuna is amazing. I agree the Sushi Taro AYCE specials are the best -- on the twice a year they have them. Not sure it is worth the wait though. I'd rather spend an extra $20/head and just eat at a regular time, but that's just me.

                                                                                                        1. re: masonuc

                                                                                                          Wait, twice a year? They have them twice a year? Did I miss one?? When??

                                                                                                          (I am actually going to be in Vegas for NYE, and I think I'll be at the Bellagio, so I will DEFINITELY check out Shintaro!)

                                                                                                          1. re: kallisti

                                                                                                            They do it for July 4 and Cherry Blossom Festival. I was in Vegas last week talking to my sushi chef and he was a former Sushi Taro sushi chef. Small world.

                                                                                                            1. re: masonuc

                                                                                                              July 4 too? That is awesome.... I can't believe I didn't know that. Too bad I'll have to wait til next spring to go again... Thanks for the info! Aside from all you can eat toro and uni, one of my favorite things about the AYCE sushi at Sushi Taro is that there's a pretty decent variety of stuff put out, and you wouldn't be able to pick such a wide variety of things for the same price a la carte.

                                                                                                              (Unfortunately, as I'm sure you know, I didn't get to go to Shintaro when I was in Vegas due to it closing.)

                                                                                                      2. Just wanted to throw a vote in for Tono-Sushi off of Connecticut Avenue near the Omni Shoreham (top of Dupont Circle, edge of Adam's Morgan and down Conn from the Nat. Zoo). I usually go there, Niwano Hana (Rockville) and Sushi-Ko (G.Town which is close to my office) and I still love going to Tono. They are owned and run by the same guys that run the older Yosaku (Wisconsin Ave., near Tenley Town).

                                                                                                        1. There's a new place in Rockville called Sushi Oishii. While it's not like the one in Boston, I found it quite good! They even offered Blue Fin Tuna, O-Toro, G-Toro- some of my favs. The chef goes out in the mornings and hand picks some of the higher quality fishes. I think it's family owned and the people are very friendly. Sounds like it's in your neighborhood kallisti.

                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: steve_o

                                                                                                            You know I heard about that, but I can't remember where. Wow, they had o-toro... I also heard about Sushi Damo in Rockville Town Center.... Anyone (else) been to either place?

                                                                                                            1. re: kallisti

                                                                                                              Haven't been to either place yet, but I walked by Sushi Damo and grabbed a takeout menu the other day. Prices were nearly double those of Niwano Hana, a mile away, so I doubt I'll be in there unless someone reports world-changing sushi quality.

                                                                                                              1. re: DanielK

                                                                                                                Seriously? Wow. I am willing to pay big bucks for world-changing sushi (see Sushi Sasabune in Honolulu), but I would like to know that it's world-changing sushi first! A friend has gone and said it's good, but I'm not sure I trust his opinion as he liked Matuba and I had a horrible lunch experience there (though I hear that was out of the norm). Maybe Sushi Damo for lunch is a better idea ie lower prices?

                                                                                                              2. re: kallisti

                                                                                                                I just tried Sushi Damo recently, and I'm very hopeful that this will be a good place. Unfortunately, I didn't get sushi, so I can't comment on that. I had the grilled mackerel and my mom got the grilled sea bass. Food was very good, presentation was lovely, and prices were a bit on the high side. Still, I thought it was well worth the price and I'd love to go back and try some other stuff.

                                                                                                            2. Reading through this all again, I think I'm going to have to try Sushi Kappo Kawasaki since it's so close to work... In fact, I can't believe I haven't noticed it before. Very odd. Hopefully I'll get there before the end of the year!

                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                              1. re: kallisti

                                                                                                                Update from it's website - Sushi Kappo Kawasaki is closed pending relocation. No word on where or when it will reopen.

                                                                                                              2. Well I haven't managed to get to Sushi Kappo Kawasaki, as it was closed when I went by on Wednesday.

                                                                                                                Tonight, however, I went to Sushi Damo in Rockville Town Center. The quality of fish was very good, and all the sushi was tasty, but I found it somewhat overpriced. Not horrendously so, but somewhat. The pieces of sashimi were thick but small (1.5in x .75in x .5in), the roll that the waiter described to me as like a 5 piece futomaki roll was small (2 in diameter and pieces maybe .5 in thick), and the normal rolls were on the small side. All measurements are approximate of course as I didn't break out a ruler at the table. The nigiri was a shade small, but not as egregiously as the sashimi. Again, everything was tasty and good quality, but just kind of small. I ordered a beef tataki appetizer for $8, and it was 6 *small* slices that were extremely thin. They were offering several special rolls for $15-$17 each which I wasn't willing to try as 3/4 of them were "spicy"-whatever-fish and I found the price too expensive.

                                                                                                                My 5 piece roll was $10 (it was the Crazy Horse roll with tuna, salmon, yellowtail, avocado, and tobiko). My two dining companions wanted to share the spider roll (which actually involved huge sticking-out pieces of crab) and two 8 piece rolls (one each from the Chef's Special and the Damo Creation, $11 and $15 respectively), and they needed to order another roll, though that wasn't particularly surprising as three rolls for two people = not enough sushi.

                                                                                                                Also, the nirigi were priced by the piece, not by two pieces ($2.5-3 was the price per piece, toro was listed as mkt of course). Sashimi though seemed to be two pieces for the price of one piece of nigiri (unless I read the check wrong which could have been the case), which was odd. Not sure what was going on there. There wasn't a write-in a la carte sushi menu, you had to keep track of all of it in your head.

                                                                                                                Also, big disappointment, no toro! It was on the menu, but they didn't have it available. I guess there's not much fresh fish delivery the day after Thanksgiving or something...? I have no idea, but it's a Friday night, and our waiter didn't say that they'd run out, he said they didn't have any, which gave me the impression that they didn't get any today at all. Sad.

                                                                                                                The service was friendly, though it took what seemed like a long time for our sushi to come out (don't know how long, wasn't actually timing it), and then another while for the extra roll to come out once we ordered it. The place wasn't incredibly busy, though I think most tables were full.

                                                                                                                The decor was cool, lots of birch (I think?) branches, dark wood, low lighting, you can see that it's trying to be trendy like it's NYC sister restaurant (also called Sushi Damo). We sat at a table that had four deep black leather armchairs pulled up to it, which was comfortable for lounging, but provided no back support once you needed to start eating. We were by the door, and it got kind of chilly when people would come in and out. The manager (I believe) came up to us during the meal to check if everything was okay.

                                                                                                                All in all, it was a pleasant enough experience, though I felt like Niwano Hana is similar quality for better value. Niwano Hana is nowhere near as trendy looking as Sushi Damo though. At some point during our meal, they dimmed the lights a lot to make it all cool and romantic. I always laugh when restaurants do that. Anyway. That's pretty much all I can think of that might be relevant. I might try a lunch there as that'd be more reasonably priced, but I still like Niwano Hana better.

                                                                                                                1. If you are willing to come up to Baltimore then I strongly suggest Minato on Charles Street. It moved recently to the 1000 block, two blocks north from the old location. Same owners and such.

                                                                                                                  The miso soup is very good, a lot different from other area sushi joints. If the wild mushroom roll is on the special menu, get it! Also, if white tuna is being offered, get it as sashimi! Very good!!!!!!!!!!

                                                                                                                  1. Best sushi in DC is from Murasaki. I have read some of the reviews and nothing stands out. However from Uni to toro to Ama ebi to yellowtail...absolutely everything including the best soft shell crab I have ever had anywhere.

                                                                                                                    This includes all the local locals

                                                                                                                    Sushi Taro

                                                                                                                    Murasaki is the best I have had, the best rolls and the best fish that I have had anywhere close, including Sushi Sono in Columbia. Try it yourself, if it is anything close to what I have had I am sure you wont be disappointed. Better than my last $200 pp meal at Nobu in NYC for a 1/4 of the price.

                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: Andrewp75

                                                                                                                      Wow thanks for the glowing rec! I don't think anyone in this thread even mentioned Murasaki, and I've definitely never heard of it myself. I'll make a point of getting down there.

                                                                                                                      1. re: kallisti

                                                                                                                        I have eaten at Murasaki -- near where I used to work. It is good but no rational person would rank it above Sushi Taro or Kaz.

                                                                                                                    2. Endo sushi in Clarendon is surprisingly good if you want to try something else

                                                                                                                      1. in baltimore i would reccommend Nichi Ban in federal hill. it is the oldest sushi restaurant in balt, & the sushi chef/owner takes alot of pride, is ALWAYS there. he also has a grilled himachi cheek app for $9 that is mind blowing. for something a bit different, try nasu blanca in baltimore. it's a contemporary spanish/japanese fusion spot. i could eat the sashimi white tuna every day! the spicy tuna tempura & lobster tempura are both to die for. the creativity here also includes dipping sauces. u wont miss the soy sauce. nasu blanca also has the most impressive sake list i have ever seen, & a killer happy hour.

                                                                                                                        1. I checked the Chevy Chase Sushi Ko thread for any updates on that, but haven't seen any... has anyone been there lately? How is it?

                                                                                                                          1. Has the consensus changed.

                                                                                                                            #1 Sushi Taro
                                                                                                                            #2 Sushi Ko

                                                                                                                            The rest?

                                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: WestIndianArchie

                                                                                                                              Considering this is a two-year-old thread, I'd say

                                                                                                                              #2Sushi Taro

                                                                                                                              However, the sushi place I find myself frequenting is Momo Sushi in Old Town, both because of it's proximity, freshness, and especially the rice. It's just the right amount of vinegar, which is really important to me. I took my mom (born and raised in Japan) and she said it was some of the best she's had in the U.S. In fact, for a celebration, we ordered about $300 worth of sushi party platters. Among nine people, it lasted about 15 minutes.

                                                                                                                              I also like Momo because it's small, out of the way, and cozy. It reminds me of one of those little back alley places you go in Tokyo or Osaka where you find something special.

                                                                                                                              1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                                                                Thanks monkeyrotica, I have a new destination.

                                                                                                                                1. re: WestIndianArchie

                                                                                                                                  Indeed, now there's another place on my list!

                                                                                                                            2. Hmm. I don't consider myself to be a sushi afficinado, but I have been to Japan (lived/studied) and my father is from Hawai'i, so I do have some experience.

                                                                                                                              *Aki (on West 4th) -- Sorry, but in NYC. It's the best sushi I've ever had. This is in SoHo, and the chef was the personal chef to the Japanese ambassador to Jamaica (hence the Japanese-Jamaican nature of the restaurant)

                                                                                                                              *Wasabi - Farragut West: Kaiten Zushi style, (like Sushi-go-Round in Chinatown). Though a little pricy, I liked the complicated ingredients.

                                                                                                                              *Oya - Penn Quarter: Interesting sushi that has tortilla in it and great sauces

                                                                                                                              *Sushi Taro - Dupont Circle: Maybe they've gone downhill in prepration for their new opening next year, but the sushi wasn't as good as I thought. AND it was really small

                                                                                                                              *Zengo - Chinatown: Great sushi, and it's fusion too!

                                                                                                                              *Sushi Yama - Vienna: Great Sushi and pretty authentic, even though the restaurant is owned by Korean people

                                                                                                                              *Nooshi - Farragut : Pretty good sushi, but nothing great. A little small

                                                                                                                              {Best Sushi in Virginia} *Miyako - Charlottesville : Authentic small Japanese restaurant in Downtown Charlottesville (trust me, I talked to the chef in Japanese). another great option for sushi in Charlottesville is TEN, but it takes a while to get food and is a tad pricy.

                                                                                                                              *Cafe Mozu (Mandarin Oriental): good sushi, but too small and too expensive.

                                                                                                                              *Konami - Mclean: Average -- nothing memorable

                                                                                                                              *Jacksons - Reston: I've heard great things about their sushi, though its a 50s diner.

                                                                                                                              *Uptown Sushi Grille: Even though this is a sports bar, it has good, reasonably priced sushi. (plus great happy hour specials) -- I've only had it catered though

                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: discojing

                                                                                                                                  Interesting list indeed. I'd be curious to see how you felt about Sushi Ko, Kaz Sushi Bistro, Kotobuki, and Makoto. Also Sushi Sono and Sushi King. Ever been to any of those places?

                                                                                                                                  The best sushi I've ever had is still at Sushi Sasabune in Honolulu (LA wasn't the same). :)

                                                                                                                                2. Also, in case people have missed the thread on it specifically, Sushi Taro is open again (though I haven't been yet), apparently just for dinner right now. Lunch is supposedly coming at some point.

                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                  1. re: kallisti

                                                                                                                                    I cannot believe no one here has mentioned Yuraku!! It's the best sushi I've had here, although I was initially suspicious of their 1) weekend buffet style lunches and 2) wide variety of specialty rolls.

                                                                                                                                    Prepare to wait an hour or two at peak lunch hour on the weekend, but their banana rolls (not sure how it works, but it does!) alone is worth the trip up to Germantown!

                                                                                                                                    Details here:

                                                                                                                                  2. Any updates?

                                                                                                                                    I still, unfortunately, haven't been to Kotobuki. I've been to Kyoto, on Capitol Hill (alright), Spices in Cleveland Park (alright but Kyoto was better), Osaka in Greenbelt (alright), Kushi (very good but priiiiicey), Sticky Rice (alright)....and I think that's it for the past year or two. Is that true? Maybe.

                                                                                                                                    The new Sushi Taro has been reviewed elsewhere on this board, but my opinion is: good to great fish, but for those who liked the izakaya feel of the old place, the new place is way less comforting and homey. It's still good food, just a totally different feel.

                                                                                                                                    Sushi Taro
                                                                                                                                    1503 17th Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20036

                                                                                                                                    4822 MacArthur Blvd NW, Washington, DC 20007

                                                                                                                                    Sticky Rice
                                                                                                                                    1224 H St NE, Washington, DC 20002

                                                                                                                                    17 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: kallisti

                                                                                                                                      wow an OP keeping up with their thread for almost 5 years ! I think that's a new one!

                                                                                                                                      1. re: kallisti

                                                                                                                                        If you ever feel inclined to drop $125 on sushi, make a reservation at the chef's counter at Sushi Taro. The atmosphere back there is *great* and it's overall just an amazing experience with really excellent fish. I've never done the regular dining room - the concept just doesn't really appeal to me. I keep meaning to show up for happy hour and just order a la carte from the bar.

                                                                                                                                        I have been to Kaz. It was okay. Haven't been to Sushi Ko yet. I'd check these out.

                                                                                                                                        From what you've said, I'm guessing you're stuck with the pricey Kushi. Seems to match up best to what you're looking for in terms of menu and atmosphere. Keep an eye out for Groupons!

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Raids

                                                                                                                                          Yeah, typically I don't do the crazy pricey meals unless it's for a special occasion, and I already have reservations at Table 21 for my bday this year (just like last ;) so I'm not sure when I'd get there, but I've heard great things. I think one of the times I was there in the dining room there might have been gold leaf on one of the pieces of nigiri we got served... Maybe I'll have to invent a special occasion :)

                                                                                                                                          Sushi Ko was good the one time I went, but it was years ago. I have a groupong/livingsocial/whatever discount thing to go back, but haven't made it over there yet.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: kallisti

                                                                                                                                            They truly just lay out a huge row of open black boxes of perfect-looking huge hunks of fish and you just point to what you want. It's like being at a jewelry store, for fish. Just amazing.

                                                                                                                                            I have the same Sushi Ko coupon. If only it were easier to get to!

                                                                                                                                          2. re: Raids

                                                                                                                                            The Sushi Taro bar is terrible. It's basically a bar, not a sushi bar. Very little service. And overall I don't like the new Sushi Taro, even forgetting the prices. It's not as good as the old. I'm not sure it ever will be.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: masonuc

                                                                                                                                              As mentioned, the "sushi bar" proper is the chef's counter in the back that we were discussing above.

                                                                                                                                              The bar is, as you say, just a bar, but you wouldn't even order a happy hour snack there?

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Raids

                                                                                                                                                I know they have a sushi bar in the back but it requires the whole ball of wax (reservations, omakase, etc.). I've eaten there a few times when I craved good sushi (better than Raku or any place in Dupont) but barely tolerated it. The sushi is a minor step up from Raku. It's terrible and awkward at the bar. The service is bad. The prices are high. They have great desserts -- that's about the only thing I like about the whole restaurant.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: masonuc

                                                                                                                                                  You thought the chef's counter in the back was barely tolerable? Wow, I've eaten sushi all over the country and thought it was one of the best restaurant experiences I've had in my life both for quality of food, atmosphere, and service. That's a shame. For $125, I have no idea why you'd bother going back for the second and third time if it didn't blow your socks off. But then, I'd never consider going to Raku for sushi, so possibly we're just looking for different things.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Raids

                                                                                                                                                    I've had sushi at chef's tables in some of the finest sushi places in NYC and Vegas and Sushi Taro was not nearly as good. Not in the same class at all. I go back because it is still the best in the neighborhood even if it is overpriced and not that great. I go to Raku because it's a great location, casual restaurant with good dishes (soups, noodle dishes, pan-Asian, etc.). A neighborhood joint, especially in the summer with a great patio. Is the sushi great? No, it's not -- although it's really not terrible. Mostly just inconsistent.

                                                                                                                                                    Sushi Taro is not as good as it used to be. Even when you ignore the prices, the service, the decor, everything -- just the sushi, it's not as good.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: masonuc

                                                                                                                                                      You've been to the chef's counter at sushi taro, or to a table in the restaurant?

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Raids

                                                                                                                                                        I've been to the chef's counter, a table, and the bar (which is a drink bar, not a sushi bar -- but they serve sushi there). I've ordered omakase at a table and I've ordered off the menu. I've pretty much done every experience at the restaurant post-renovation and I've never been thrilled. The chef's counter was good but does not compare to top sushi restaurants in other major cities.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: masonuc

                                                                                                                                                          Oops, sorry your previous reply was collapsed and I didn't notice you'd already answered. Looking at it now, I think I already responded to this. That sucks that your experiences haven't been as good. I'm sorry. I was thrilled and had an amazing experience. *shrugs*

                                                                                                                                          3. re: kallisti

                                                                                                                                            I've become a big Kushi fan. It's just great food, great sushi. In many ways it is the closest thing to the old Sushi Taro -- expensive but not crazy expensive, very high quality sushi. They have a very weak sake list though -- odd for the type of place it is. Unfortunately the location and lack of parking kind of sucks, I wish they'd open a 2nd branch in Dupont/Logan/Cleveland Park.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: masonuc

                                                                                                                                              I'm also a Kushi fan, although some of the sushi items can be hit or miss. I figure everything can't be completely fresh every time. But I've been really happy with the grilled items, particularly the seafood, especially the prawns. The raw oysters were firm, fresh, and briny. Also appreciate the beer list with Japanese beers that are actually brewed in Japan as opposed to Ontario and Los Angeles. And for those who complain about still being hungry afterword, you need only go to Taylor Gourmet next door for a nice sandwich.

                                                                                                                                              I heard the owners of Kushi are opening a ramen shop. Really looking forward to this.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                                                                                Where did you hear the Kushi owners are opening a ramen shop? I heard the Sushiko owners will be opening one...

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Guy Incognito

                                                                                                                                                  A local foodie blog interview with one of the owners, Darren Lee Norris. They're still scouting a location, so it could be anywhere.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                                                                                    That's great news! With that, Sushiko's ramen joint, Toki Underground and the reopening of Ren's, it looks like soon there'll be no shortage of ramen options in the DC area. It's about time...

                                                                                                                                                    To keep on topic, add me to the list of Kushi fans. I've only been once and had mainly sushi. All the fish was very fresh, rice was well seasoned, and the nigiri was properly proportioned. I had a few grilled items, which were good, but not quite up to par with the yakitori places in NYC.