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Authentic Japanese

cooperc Mar 19, 2010 10:48 AM

My boyfriend spent two years abroad in Japan and I wanted to take him out for authentic Japanese food. I dont mind traveling for the right place. I'd like to keep a budget though of around a hundred dollars. Thanks!

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  1. s
    sekelmaan RE: cooperc Mar 19, 2010 11:14 AM

    Tachibana in McLean is the best Japanese in the area in my opinion. It has a range of foods including sushi (great specials too, some Japanese imports and rare cuts on occasion). Last Sunday we went in for a late lunch and there was a 30 minute wait. We were the only gringos beside one other table. I think that is a testament to their authenticity.

    6 Replies
    1. re: sekelmaan
      monkeyrotica RE: sekelmaan Mar 19, 2010 11:18 AM

      I'll second Tachibana. Also Kushi for izakaya; you should be able to get out of there for under a hundred. Small grilled dishes. They import their charcoal from Japan.


      1. re: sekelmaan
        Indy 67 RE: sekelmaan Mar 20, 2010 03:08 PM

        I'm going to sadly disagree. I've been eating at Tachibana for nearly forty years, from the days when it was located in that funny round building in Arlington, I've loved my meals there. (Note: I haven't eaten at Makoto or the other re-invented place in DC whose name is escaping me now.) However, the OP is asking about Japanese food for a boyfriend who has lived for two years in Japan. Tachibana doesn't pass that threshold.

        Right now, I'm posting from Tokyo. All I can say is that dish for dish, we're eating better in Japan. For example, my husband regularly orders tonkatsu at Tachibana, but the version we ate for lunch at Maisen was a revelation as to what that dish could be. I regularly eat sushi and sashimi, but the version we ate at Sushi Bun re-defined the experience. I'm trying to be as charitable as I can since I have such a long and affectionate history with Tachibana. Therefore, I won't even focus on the difference between the freshness of the fish at Tsukiji market and fish served in the DC area. The biggest difference -- and one where I think Tachibana could deliver regardless of location -- was the rice. In Japan, the rice in restaurant sushi is served much warmer and flavored with vinegar and real wasabi. Even the soy sauce tastes completely different even though both Kikkoman and Yama, the two widely served brands in DC restaurants, are Japanese brands. (I was told that the soy sauce is made fresh in Japanese restaurants.)

        I realize that lots of local Japanese diplomats patronize Tachibana. Does the kitchen prepare their food with more care? Do the sushi chefs form the sushi pieces with more finesse? I have no idea. All I know is that the OP's boyfriend will notice a profound difference in the nature of the food at Tachibana and the food he ate in Japan.

        Of course, my comments are based on my experience with freshly prepared food. There are take-away stores all over Tokyo selling pre-cooked tonkatsu and pre-formed sushi. I doubt they'd taste significantly different from freshly made food at a good restaurant like Tachibana. All I know is that I will return to Tachibana since it's so convenient and since I have such a long history with the place. However, I've eaten the real deal and it's better.

        1. re: Indy 67
          sekelmaan RE: Indy 67 Mar 20, 2010 04:33 PM

          I completely agree with you Indy. I have spent time in Japan as well and there is no comparison to the food I ate there (e.g. a tempura "bar" where the chef serves you piece by piece fish, vegetables and surprises until you are in a deep fried rapture or the two stool counter where the chef served only different cuts of tuna). My recommendation is purely based on what I know of the DC Japanese restaurant scene and my experiences in this area.

          1. re: sekelmaan
            Lori D RE: sekelmaan Mar 22, 2010 08:01 AM

            I would agree with both points of view: that Tachibana is among the best Japanese restaurants in the area, and that you will eat far better food in Japan.

            I travel to Japan regularly. Even though I tend towards the more inexpensive restaurants, I would say that even the kaitenzushi places in Japan outshine 95% of the sushi that I have had in the DC area. As a result, I tend not to patronize Japanese restaurants in this area too often. Most of the time, I'd rather have Vietnamese food that I am very happy with than Japanese food that compares negatively to what I can get over there.

            One of the main reasons that Japanese food is not so great in this area is that the Japanese population is relatively small. If want really authentic Japanese food, if you can travel to NYC, you would probably have better luck.

          2. re: Indy 67
            prldecivic RE: Indy 67 Mar 23, 2010 05:25 AM

            You mean the japanese food is going to be better in japan?!?! NO WAY! Obviously the food isn't going to be that close to the original here, but tachibana probably the best we can get...

            1. re: prldecivic
              Indy 67 RE: prldecivic Mar 23, 2010 03:06 PM

              I'll stand by my answer to the OP. We're in Beijing now and we're finding that XO Taste holds its own against the Cantonese cuisine we've been eating here. (We're eating at places recommended by a local although that does include some meals at well-known and tourist-frequented places like Da Dong where we ate Peking duck and braised spiny sea cucumber.) Bottom line: So far, we're feeling that we'll happily return to meals at XO Taste with no regrets and no nostalgia for the meals we ate in China. (I'll share some further impressions as we continue our trip including time in Hong Kong.) That will NOT be the case when it comes to Japanese cuisine.

              Incidentally, the OP asked for recommendations of authentic food. Once you write "Obviously, the food isn't going to be that close to the original here..." you've actually supported my original post.

        2. y
          yume RE: cooperc Mar 19, 2010 06:18 PM

          Makoto is authentic but on the high-end of Japanese cuisine (kaiseki). If you do a search on this forum you'll find many posts on this restaurant. For your budget, lunch is more affordable than dinner but you won't get the full 8-10 course meal.

          1. m
            Mer_Made RE: cooperc Mar 20, 2010 12:46 PM

            Temari in Rockville has homestyle Japanese. It's been awhile since I've been, but I remember enjoying my meals.

            Temari Cafe
            1043 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD 20852

            4 Replies
            1. re: Mer_Made
              foodslut RE: Mer_Made Mar 22, 2010 08:17 AM

              Temari is great for Japanese comfort food (ebi fry, katsu kare, etc.). I love Sushi Taro for lunch--authentic and very fresh.

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

              Temari Cafe
              1043 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD 20852

              1. re: Mer_Made
                cfoodie RE: Mer_Made Mar 22, 2010 10:19 PM

                We love Temari and Sushi Taro. These two are authentic Japanese places. However, we are running out of dishes between the two places. Makoto has changed so much that I don't think it's nearly as good (perhaps still somewhat authentic). Kushi is somewhat authentic in food but their authentic chefs prepares food as if they were mass-made for young Americans who don't know sushi from General Tso's chicken. I think it only gets more American from here. Not even the cherry blossom festival could bring out half decent Japanese food as they prepare for the masses. We go to New York City once a month for Japanese restaurants, then drop by Mitsuwa on our way back. We will visit Tachibana and hope folks have other genuine Japanese places to help us out on. Thanks.

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

                Temari Cafe
                1043 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD 20852

                1. re: cfoodie
                  Mer_Made RE: cfoodie Mar 23, 2010 11:54 AM

                  Ohh, Mitsuwa! It's been years since I've been. Wandering that shopping center is a fantastic experience. Not only is the grocery store great, but the food stands are just fun to poke through. I have got to go back.

                  1. re: Mer_Made
                    cfoodie RE: Mer_Made Mar 23, 2010 06:35 PM

                    Any of their Ramen places will make Ren's Ramen in Bethesda look like a joke. Never mind their prices. We decided that it's worthy of taking this trip once a month.

              2. p
                petercoolz RE: cooperc Mar 23, 2010 08:34 AM

                Sushi Taro and Tachibana are certainly among the best in this area. My favorite though is Makoto.

                Makoto is a very small dining experience with extremely authentic food. Their lunches are the way to go ( < $20 and you will get a wide variety of delicious foods ). We took pictures the last time we went: http://www.corystyle.com/blog/2010/02...

                1. w
                  Warthog RE: cooperc Mar 26, 2010 08:11 AM

                  OP - What area are you looking? NoVA, DC, or Balto? This board covers a fairly broad geographic range, and narrowing down the target area might help us help you.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Warthog
                    cooperc RE: Warthog Mar 26, 2010 09:08 AM

                    I'm over in Maryland, around Rockville, but I would be willing to travel for something really special. Thank you

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