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Mar 17, 2009 01:03 PM

Any information on when Sushi Taro will reopen other than "late March"?

At some point, their website went from saying "early March" to "late March". Does anyone have any inside information on whether this is still going to be the case, or any specific dates? Anyone walked by lately?

I'm craving Sushi Taro, and hoping that they still have the lunch bento boxes when they reopen...

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  1. I live next door and the owners said they are opening for business on Friday... I am excited as well!

    5 Replies
    1. re: mrgenius

      Thanks for the info as I havn't gotten any info on their mailing list. Their target was to be open by Cherry Blossom. Hope it will not change much...but I have a feeling it may turn into another high priced "fancy" Japanese place, not very compatible with this economy. I still look forward to visiting them.

      1. re: mrgenius

        They were not open on Friday. It still looks like they are working on it. The bathrooms where you enter are's more spacious in appearance, Things flow better, looks to still seat quite a few people. Hope they send out e-mail notices to people on their list, so I would at least be notified to their opening.

        1. re: cfoodie

          What mailing list?? Please post here if you do hear! :)

        2. re: mrgenius

          Perhaps they mean this friday, the 27th?

          I mean, there's not much of "late March" past this week... :)

          1. re: kallisti

            The mailing list came with the Sushi Taro calender...took a while to earn that...

            They are open TODAY. We made a researvation for this weekend. They were sure to ask us to drop by for the menu before we reserve, as many people looked at the menu and walked away. Well, we shall see and report back. I expect the food to be more expensive, refined (maybe), and perhaps this place to turn into yet another fancy Japanese restaurant like the many that we already have....and lose its unique Izakaya flavor...

            Somebody please go there before I do to report back!

            Thank you.

        3. Turns out I was wrong (sort of, the manager said they weren't ready for service yet)... it opened yesterday. And I went.

          Review: It is QUITE different from the old Sushi Taro. Initially, I was struck how spacious it was. You really get a nice airy feel in the restaurant. The tatami tables are gone as is the sushi bar. There is a private 6-seat sushi bar in the back, which I was told would be staffed by one chef solely. This bar would be for groups, though they may change this as time goes on.

          The menu couldn't be more different. There are no maki rolls, no tempura, or really any cooked dishes on the a la carte menu. You can choose from three tasting menus: a $65 kaiseki menu (minimum of 2 per table), a $75 sushi tasting, and a $65 sashimi tasting.

          The a la carte menu had a few specialty small plates and sashimi, a daily special nigiri menu (1 pc per order, which said were flown fresh from Japan), and your more everyday nigiri (2 pc per order). The price on the specialty sashimi ranged from $12-20 and the nigiri specials were in the $7 range. The 2 pc nigiri standards were about the same (but you get 2 pieces).

          We didn't try the kaiseki (the 2 per table minimum made that difficult), but we did order 2 sushi tastings and 1 sashimi tasting for three people. This was probably overkill, as the tastings can be shared and two of the tasting would have been more than enough. The pacing of the meal was uneven, but that was to be expected on day one (our waitress was very nice, if a little forgetful about some of the menu items).

          The food, in particular the sushi, was fantastic. The toro was buttery, the uni briny and fresh, and the sweet shrimp deliciously creamy.

          My main beef was that the options were so limited. I understand what they are going for, but it's hard not to compare the experience to the former incarnation. Even Makoto allows for a few options on the tasting menu. Sushi Taro didn't.

          Silver lining: they will be opening for lunch with a menu more representative of their former offerings. But not yet.

          Overall, I doubt I'd find myself going for dinner with any regularity, but it's certainly a nice special occasion experience. It just needs a little time to work out some kinks.

          5 Replies
          1. re: mrgenius

            Thanks for the review. It will be interesting to see how their business holds up with the new menu and with the economy. If they stick with their old lunch menu, I'll more likely come there for that meal than dinner.

            1. re: mrgenius

              Oh gosh, I really hope that their lunch menu is not so trying-to-be-high-end.... I loved the $10 bento boxes and got them all the time. If they took those away, I don't think I'd go anymore.

              Do you have any info on when they will be open for lunch?

              Oh, and the other important question, is there still going to be all-you-can-eat sushi??? :)

              Thanks so much for the report!!

              1. re: kallisti

                We were told it would be in a couple weeks, maybe sooner. I REALLY doubt they're bringing back all you can eat (but a boy can dream!).

                1. re: mrgenius

                  E-mail came from Sushi Taro. Opening reception next week...guess I shall call now a "soft opening." New website too.

                  "After three months of renovation, the new Sushi Taro is 95% complete and we cannot wait to tell you that it is gorgeous.

                  We opened quietly on March 23rd and trying out new menu and services. But, for people who’s waiting for new exclusive sushi bar, please wait until cherry blossom festival is over. Everyday, our operation is improving and everyone at Sushi Taro is now feeling confident to be able to comfortably serve you.
                  We cannot wait to see you all here at new and improved Sushi Taro."

                  1. re: cfoodie

                    Reception when? Is it invite-only?

            2. From someone who was there yesterday, info is that the grand opening is this Friday, there is no all-you-can-eat sushi, and the lunch bento boxes are GONE. *sob*

              Silver lining: they might add things back in to the menu....

              1. one just has to wonder, what the heck was the strategy? they went forward with this formula after the economy was clearly tanking.

                high quality fish - sure, but rigid menu? I dunno. $65-75 a meal is a splurge these days. (obviously no expense account here)

                I heard an account of Yasuda in NYC from this weekend, practically live fish, sashimi served ala carte about 30 or 40 a head.

                13 Replies
                1. re: hill food

                  That really is the question. I live next door and there were ALWAYS waits even on weekdays. I am no restaurateur, but I would have thought it would've made more sense to keep the anchor location and just open a new location with the tasting menu concept, say over on 14th by Cork. The renovation didn't look cheap, but I guess they didn't want to expand.

                  1. re: mrgenius

                    I was thinking about it yesterday. I mean, they must have had plans to do that in the works for months, well before the December closing. Probably way before September/October when everything got bad. So, I guess they decided to just go ahead.... the friend I talked to yesterday said that this week was pretty full up, and that you'd definitely have to make a reservation (oh yeah, I guess they do reservations now?), so at least right now they're doing okay. I said the real question is whether they get repeat customers, or it becomes enough of a destination that people go there anyway.

                    1. re: kallisti

                      I was just thinking the same thing earlier - maintain the proven and god knows, there's plenty of open space nearby to do a more 'refined' thing like Andres did with Atlantico/Minibar.

                      I only threw Yasuda out there as a comparison of a well-received place in a market like NYC was charging.

                  2. re: hill food

                    I'm hoping they really do consider adding things back onto the menu; the person I talked to yesterday said that his top three things to get were all gone. We should picket and get the things we want back on. What do we want? Bento boxes! When do we want them? Now!

                    (I know it's not DC related, but damn, sounds like I might have to hit up Yasuda sometime!)

                    1. re: kallisti

                      From my impression (based on brief discussions with them) this has been their dream (to serve refined Japanese food Kaiseki instead of Izakaya bar food) and you did notice that they included Kaiseki in the old menu but no takers. My theory is that as a result, the Japanese put it nicely...gave them little credit for being a good restaurant as they served bar food (I was suprised how many Japanese folks I talked to didn't recommend the old Sushi Taro). In American terms, how many burger/wing/hot dog joints get onto the Zagat, or Michellin list? Even though they were busy as a Japanese bar food place, they wanted to become a respected Kaiseki place. When I first heard of the renovation news 2 months before the close, I questioned why not to open another place, and leave the busy Sushi Taro alone...or even raise the prices at the old Taro so "just the right amount" of people would be there (according to any economic classes that I took, they were under-priced therefore demand way exceeded supply.) I probably had nothing to do with making money.

                      The issue of not opening up another place was probably control. It's the tight quality control of the owner that is responsible for the success of old Sushi Taro's. The people are trained to work as a flawless team, and the owner doesn't want to risk quality issues with trying to split the people, train them and manage two places. In the world of capitalism and sacrifising quality for more profit (as all our American goods turn into fall-a-part Chinese goods), it is kind of refreshing to hear this kind of old world quality boutique thinking. In summary, I think they knew it was a successful business model, they probably had sufficient time to see the recession coming, but the owner made his money and wants to pursue a dream. I see similar things happen with some artists when they make enough money from selling massly produced "commercial appeal" art, they stop and go off to create few masterpieces they really dream of doing. If you remember how frantic the owner was, at the front desk turning people away and calling every body, and look at him now, I think he is probably happier with his new role.

                      As far as who to fill in the Izakaya hole, I don't know. But whoever does even half a decent job at it will get my business....and all of the people on, and not on this board. That is a screaming business opportunity. If it stays like this for a few years, I might want to open one just to do the world a favor. From an Asian perspective, it's hard to imagine asking Komi to serve hamberger and hot dogs during lunch to "make ends meet" or "satisfy their other customer segment." Or even asking Makoto to serve up Bento boxes. I am sad that I can't afford to go every week now, but am still happy that they did not bend to market pressure and start Americanizing/ popularizing their food...they went the other way. I respect that and hope success to them.

                      1. re: cfoodie

                        What you say certainly makes sense. I'm just sad that I won't be able to go all the time now, as you said.

                        If you do find an Izakaya to fill the Sushi Taro hole, you have to let me know about it!

                        1. re: kallisti

                          I was saying the same thing. Perhaps we all need to get together on this board and search high and low for something similar. Guess I'll have to check out the "Izakaya" I heard about in NoVa. I hope others on this board can help find an Izakaya around DC. Thanks.

                        2. re: cfoodie

                          I see your point and while I for one don't want anything dumbed down, it would be nice to have a new decent mid-range place where one doesn't have to apologize for anything (S-T got me back on uni after a long hiatus and a first-timer-to-uni friend liked it as well, which almost never happens)

                          1. re: hill food

                            I agree. In the mean time, I think it's reasonable not having to order Kaiseki at Taro, and just get individual dishes from the a-la-cart menu...may come out the same, but probably less. It might probably be something they don't intend on, since they took one whole menu to list three Kaiseki dishes that could be done in three short lines. wife is thinking about that...

                            1. re: cfoodie

                              hey if you have the skill-set to run a 12 seat bar in the right part of town at the right price point...

                              please by all means, I'll work for trade.

                              some of my favorite afternoons in SF were rainy Sundays in the Sunset playing pool and munching on maki. I don't see that much of that these days 'round here.

                              DC has room for both (all)

                              1. re: hill food

                                Sounds like a plan. Cfoodie can run the place, hill_food will work there, and I will be the regular customer! :)

                                I keep forgetting to call ST and ask to have a menu faxed over to me....

                                1. re: kallisti

                                  I hope someone opens up before my "few years" or else I'll die of Izakaya deprivation. Perhaps it might give me time to talk S.T. into opening a Izakaya place. Has anyone tried Izakaya Blue Ocean in Fairfax VA? It's too far for me, but perhaps someone has been there. If not, I'll take one for the team in the near future.

                                  1. re: kallisti

                                    fax? what is this of which you speak?

                                    DC could use a nice yaki/maki biergarten sort of place.