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Jun 17, 2009 11:55 AM

Sushi in Dupont

Looking to share reviews, thoughts, perhaps hidden gems I have not discovered despite living in Dupont for several years and being a sushi nut. I loved Sushi Taro and was a regular but alas the Sushi Taro of old is no more and has been replaced with pretentious, overpriced, stuffy/fancy sushi. I don't mind overpriced but I want very good/excellent sushi in a reasonably casual restaurant.

The contenders that I know of:

Japone (the P Street trio)
Thai Chef
Banana Leaves
Plum Blossom

Have not yet tried Plum Blossom but none of the others really do it for me. All 7 are just so-so. Raku has a great menu and location, but the sushi is average. Ditto for Nooshi. Sakana is just average, too. Uni is hit or miss, usually miss. Japone is always miss. I have enjoyed Thai Chef on occasion but it was nothing all that special and seemed overpriced. Banana Leaves was terrible.

Anyone have any other ideas short of hiking to Kaz, Sushi Ko, the new places in PQ (Sei, Asian Spice) or Kotobuki (the last being my favorite).

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  1. I was also saddened by Sushi Taro's pretentious and less welcoming transformation. However, Sakana on P St is excellent sushi! You can also get other Japanese dishes such as udon, tempura and rice bowls. A big sigh of relief for Sakana!! Raku also has good sushi and other tasty options. Their seared tuna salad is delish! As for Sushi Ko, it is closer to Georgetown than Dupont but also amazing. I would stay away from Uni, Banana Leaves and Nooshi.

    11 Replies
    1. re: purpleglazer

      Actually I would disagree that Sakana is excellent sushi. I haven't ever been happy with what I've gotten there. It's been okay, but I've never thought "wow, this is good sushi!" I haven't tried Uni, or Japone. Nooshi is average, yes. Raku was disappointing as well.

      Sushi Taro still has relatively reasonably priced lunch options, I think it's $12 for katsudon, or a bowl of soba/udon, and there's a $5 chirashi set option that's excellent value. The lunch sushi plates, though, start at $18 I think, and I haven't been for dinner, but I'm sure it's pricier. I do find that their fish is really good quality. However, it definitely doesn't meet masonuc's requirement of "reasonably casual" in the same way it did before.

      I, too, mourn the passing of the old Sushi Taro and am looking for great sushi in a less expensive place nearby.

      1. re: kallisti

        I agree that Sakana is average and is nowhere near excellent. It has never been terrible, but I do not think it compares with old Sushi Taro, may it rest in peace. I also find eating there pretty unpleasant - it always feels stuffy and there is pretty much no lobby area to wait for a table (matters more in the winter). As take out goes, it is a serviceable option.

        I think Kaz is worth the walk, although it can get pricey. They regularly have real wasabi, which is pretty cool.

      2. re: purpleglazer

        I love Sakana as well. It's my go to sushi spot, since it's right around the corner from my apartment. I think the price is affordable and everyone is always very friendly (probably since I am a regular). The sushi is also great!

        I haven't been to Sushi Taro but I hear good things. But now that they have redone the place and prices have gone up I'm probably less likely to check it out.

        Raku is only so-so. Thai Chef is ok as well...nothing grand but they have a pretty good spicy tuna roll.

        1. re: Elyssa

          I love the BETHESDA RAKU sushi! Maybe the DC Raku is not as good?!

          1. re: chicken kabob

            I've actually heard multiple times that both the Raku and Penang in Dupont are not as good as the Bethesda ones.

            1. re: kallisti

              Dupont Raku is not as good as Bethesda, though it is usually passable (despite bad-but-improving service).

              Dupont Penang closed months ago.

              Sakana is NOT good sushi. It is okay, I go there a lot. But it is nowhere near Sushi Taro (old Sushi Taro) level. This is not open for debate, anyone who thinks otherwise has no idea what good sushi is.

            2. re: chicken kabob

              From what I understand they are different owners.

              It's not horrible but it's not great either. I went recently because I was meeting some friends there. It looks like they changed around their menu (it use to be mostly small plates). We got sushi and I ordered a noodle dish. Everything was fine, but with all the other sushi options in the area, I would go elsewhere for just sushi. The noodle dish was yummy though with a pan-asian feel.

              1. re: Elyssa

                Sushi taro is really the only good place in the Dupont area. They've brought back some lunch special items in order to win back former lunch customers.

                1. re: foodslut

                  brought back in the past couple weeks? i think the last time i was there was almost a month ago, and i'd love to hear if they brought back some of the bento boxes.

                  1. re: kallisti

                    Not sure about the boxes, but I think they now have "specials" like they used to on the trays--basically different things the chef chooses on a daily basis.

                    1. re: foodslut

                      they had specials once they brought the lunch service back a couple months ago, i think, but maybe you're talking about something different. do you know the typical pricing for the specials?

        2. I've been to all these at least a couple of times. In terms of quality, consistency and price, I find Thai Chef and Uni to be the best (Don't get the HH sushi at TC). Nooshi, Raku, Banana Leave and Plum Blossom are pretty decent, but I don't think as good as the other two mentioned. Plum Blossom has a very nice atmosphere but can be really slow. I liked their sushi, though. Sakana and Nooshi (stick with their Thai) are overrated. Japone is overrun by GW students. Sakana might be cheap and there is someone on this baord who always recommends this place, but that's based on her love for one particular roll. Overall, the sushi is meh. Another place that's surprisingly good is Singapore Bistro.

          1. I finally got my butt over to Plum Blossom. It has been open for a year or two but I was always deeply skeptical of the premise whenever I have seen the menu -- put succintly, how could a "Sushi and Wine Bar" have a sake list of about 3 lousy, non-premium sake? That seems bizarre. I realize they mean "Wine Bar" as red/white wine, but come on. No serious sushi restaurant can have only 3 non-premium sake, especially if it calls itself a Wine Bar.

            Despite that, I have seen some good reviews online and I went in with modest and optomistic expectations. Plum Blossom disappointed. The service was terrible -- which I can forgive -- but unfortunately the sushi was worse than the service. I'd put this well below Raku, Thai Chef, Sakana, and Uni. Any one of those 4 are the "best" in Dupont, on a good day. They are all inconsistent and not very special.

            By the way, I ordered delivery sushi from Singapore Bistro the other day and it was borderline inedible. It may be significantly better in store, but I doubt it.

            One thing that saddens me is... why is Spices so much better than Nooshi? Same owner, same menu. Spices is much, much better. If Spices had a branch in Dupont, I'd consider all my problems solved.

            I have been meaning to try Current, but I have mostly read negative things. They had a "Groupon" recently for a $40 purchase for $20 but I couldn't figure out how exactly the deal worked -- and they didn't have any instructions before purchasing -- so I passed.

            2 Replies
            1. re: masonuc

              I bought that Groupon for Current, but haven't used it yet. I haven't heard anything about the place. I'd be curious to know how it is, if anyone has been recently. I tried going a few weeks ago, but they weren't open as their electricity went out and they were having it fixed.

              1. re: woodleyparkhound

                I am very curious to hear reviews. I am currently splitting my Dupont sushi time between Thai Chef and Raku. I think Uni is as good as both, but it is a hike down P St for me vs. Raku which is 95% as good and right across the street, more or less.

                I still am saddened by the Spices-Nooshi difference. Ate at Spices twice in the last month and really, really, happy each time. Nooshi... sucks. Okay it is decent but why is it so much worse than Spices?

            2. Sushi Taro is overpriced and pretentious, but we still couldn't get seated without a 40 minute wait on Saturday night.

              17 Replies
              1. re: vega4933

                I tried to "drop in" on a friggin Tuesday last week and they didn't have a table except chef's bar which is $100/minimum. They said wait would be an hour. I went to Raku.

                1. re: vega4933

                  Quick query - when we lived in DC 7-8 years ago, we used to go to Sushi Taro pretty much every Friday night - with a reservation. The line used to always be down the stairs for those without a reservation, so I'm wondering if the situation is different now. My husband is on his way to DC right now and has a reservation for tonight. Has the food changed that dramatically?


                  1. re: MMRuth

                    It's a totally different restaurant now with the same name (and pretty rude staff). The menu items and prices have changed. Take a look at the menu online.

                    1. re: Jacey

                      Thanks - I'll take a look. Different owners? They were always so gracious when we went.

                      1. re: MMRuth

                        Just checked out the website - and the Siestima (sp?) review they link to - I guess the son has taken over. I'll post back about my husband's thoughts, if that is ok. We did really love that place. They called my husband "Mr. George", and to make a last minute reservation, I had to say that I was "Mrs. George" when I called!

                        1. re: MMRuth

                          Well - just some quick second hand feedback if that is ok. My husband and the friend he was with very much enjoyed the food - miso soup, something called slimey seaweed (well, didn't like that so much), black miso cod, pieces of uni and ikura sushi, and then a $70 "omakase" platter.

                          1. re: MMRuth

                            skimey seaweed can be mozuku (I amnot sure of the spelling) which is a thin seaweed that I believe is a river rock seaweed. It is very hard to find and quite wonderful. Even in the Japanese districts of LA (Little Tokyo, East Hollywood and Torrence/Gardena} is ws hard to find. It is typically served in a light ponzu like dressing. Definitely a acquired texture type of think but one of my favorites!

                            1. re: deangold

                              So it is not called "slimey seaweed"? My husband was registering for a conference, so it was a little hard to hear him!

                            2. re: MMRuth

                              You had all that then the aomakase? How much was it total? What was in the omakase?

                              1. re: Jacey

                                Well, I wasn't there. My husband told me that the bill was $140, before trip - no drinks. He commented particularly on the toro, which he thought was excellent, but overall he thought the fish to be of high quality. Oh - and the "omakase" they had was sashimi.

                                Edit - it was just two pieces of sea urchin and two of the salmon roe.

                                1. re: MMRuth

                                  $140 for two people or each? Did he pay extra for the other dishes you mentioned besides the omakase or was that part of it?

                                  1. re: Jacey

                                    $140 for two people. The omakase, which they shared, was $70, so the remaining amount covered the other dishes, and tax.

                                    1. re: MMRuth

                                      Oh, I thought they each got their own. Quite pricey for only a few other side dishes!

                                      1. re: Jacey

                                        I'll see if I can get more details when he gets home, but I would imagine that the uni & ikura added up to about $20, if not more, and the black miso cod here in NYC can run between $12 - $20, depending on the place and the size of the dish.

                        2. re: Jacey

                          Actually the staff has always been perfectly nice to me the 5-7 times I've been there since the switch, and I'm certainly not a regular, so it's not that they know me or anything.

                          They also just recently started serving the lunch bento boxes again, for $12.95 each this time, though unfortunately, no pork katsu bento box. Sigh.

                          1. re: kallisti

                            what's in the bento boxes? what are the main entree choices?

                            1. re: Jacey

                              um.... unfortunately, i don't recall.... sorry! :(

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