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Any Good Sushi in DC?

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I will be traveling on business in September, and I do have a Sushi obsession. I like traditional upscale, all about the food...don't care about the atmosphere or the price. Not into rolls, just fresh exotic fish. Is DC a sushi town, or should I skip it?

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  1. where are you staying
    lots of good sushi places

    1 Reply
    1. re: dining with doc

      I'm staying at the grand hyatt

    2. lots of recs on this thread http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/177822, hasn't been updated in a while but it should give you at least an idea of what's out there.

      i still haven't been to kotobuki, you'll hear people mention sushi ko and kaz sushi bistro a lot (i like ko better than kaz), sushi taro is now good sushi but totally different from what it used to be.

      happy fish-eating :)

      1. kaz Sushi, sushi Ko, Sei, Oya

        1. So it sounds like Taro used to be the place... Now, Kaz?

          1 Reply
          1. re: Robert Ogden

            I've heard nothing but good about the new Taro, the only negatives are that it's no longer a (relatively) inexpensive and casual place.

            I see from your profile you're in LA, don't get your hopes up too high. DC does have good sushi, but not the luxury of picking and choosing from a huge pool of excellent that LA does. I like Kaz, other opinions may differ.

          2. Sushi Taro is the only place in DC that is really as good as anything LA has to offer. As a restaurant, it's okay, but if you pay for the omakasse at the sushi counter, you will have an experience you will remember forever. It's about $100-125, depending on what and how much you pick when they spread out those beautiful stacked boxes of raw fish. That in itself is really something to see.

            ETA: It has a lot of negative buzz lately because you used to be able to get unbelievably good sushi for astonishingly low prices (it was just completely amazingly awesome) and at some point they realized that they have better fish than everyone else in the city and changed the concept accordingly and added cooked items.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Raids

              Taro's fish quality: it really is top notch, best? I don't know, but I thought I'd never like Uni again til I gave it another try there.

            2. Thanks for the info, yes I am spoiled being from L.A., But I will give Taro a shot, $125 is normal for a great Sushi meal.

              5 Replies
              1. re: Robert Ogden

                In that case, you'll have to report back and let me know how it stacked up. Apparently, I still have the chef's business cards from my visit: Nobu Yamazaki is the owner chef, and Masaya Kitayama is the executive chef. Also, you might want to be abolutely sure you have a chef's counter reservation - when I called to add one person to my reservation, it turns out they booked me a regular table the first time. They changed it, but I lucked out since there are only 6 seats, two seatings a night. According to the chefs, everything is flown in from Japan within the last 24 hours. Dinner took about 3 hours. I can't remember how many courses there were - a dozen? And don't miss the sesame ice cream.

                ETA: Also, they served fugu when I was there, although that'll knock your bill up another $50. There's *plenty* of other exotic stuff amongst the regular offerings also, though.

                1. re: Raids

                  fugu in the US? is that legal? I know there are non-toxic puffer fish native to the Chesapeake, but do they qualify as fugu? (just read an old Nat Geo article from 1984 about the fish)

                  1. re: hill food

                    Apparently, if the chef is licensed to serve fugu in Japan, the FDA allows the restaurant to serve fugu. According to WIkipedia, there are 17 licensed to serve in the US, 12 in NY (apparently the only port of entry for fugu is in NY). I think I remember that Kaz also serves fugu.

                    Also, it is not fugu season (that is winter).

                    1. re: Lori D

                      Ah well, there you go. It was February when I was there. They told me about their supply and everything at the time, but I don't remember the details unfortunately. I guarantee you there was no question regarding it's authenticity, however.

                      1. re: Lori D

                        interesting, thanks.

                2. Sushi Taro is not good. It's not just the prices. It's not as good as it used to be. They claim a lot of the fish is flown in fresh from Japan but it sure doesn't taste all that fresh. The old Sushi Taro was 100 times better.

                  I recommend Kaz, but if you want to splurge, Makoto.

                  Sushi Taro may be the best in Dupont, but that's about it. The folks giving it glaring reviews just assume that since they are paying high end prices they are getting the best sushi in DC.

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

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: masonuc

                    i don't know, i was a huge fan of sushi taro (especially their all-you-can-eat sushi for the cherry blossom festival) before they changed, and i don't feel let down now. i don't feel the quality of the fish has suffered at all. it's certainly the best sushi in dupont, but i think is also right up there with kaz, sushi ko, etc. but, you know, everyone has different tastes and experiences :)

                    i only had a couple pieces of sushi as part of the omakase at makoto, but they were delicious, as you say.

                  2. After a little more research, I think I am more of a Kaz kinda guy. When i mentioned "upscale" i really meant the food more than the atmosphere. I like a more casual atmosphere, with the best fish available! Thanks for all the suggestions.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Robert Ogden

                      Having searched high and low for good sushi in NY, I think the only place here that matches up to the (only) 3 michellin one star Japanese places in NY is Sushi Taro. Having dined at ST about once a month, and at Kaz a few times, I dropped by Taro's sushi counter this week. I had almost every type of fish (and that was at least 20), including live sea scallop, live sea urchin (unfortunately female California), Boston bluefins of different cuts (not in season), all kinds of white fish snapper and yellowtails I have never heard of, and your basic eel types just to name a few. The bill didn't even come close to the disappointing times I had with Chef Kaz. I would have to say if you are going to sit on the "rape my wallet counter" and you want to have some good fish, Sushi Taro has probably the most and the best....in addition to their cooked food. Their variety and preparation beat the famed (but non-starred) Sushi Yasuda NYC out of the water consistently. As a guy that I look for solid food in a place whether it'd be styrofoam cup and bowl place in a ghetto or the thousand dollar (non) business meals in a famed place. In my opinion, sushi Taro has the most solid Japanese food here...unless you go to the "bigger" cities.

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

                      1. re: Robert Ogden

                        Do what makes you comfortable, but we wore jeans and sweaters to Sushi Taro. It's not fancy. But it's not the kind of place where people are loud, either.

                        I've also heard comments like masonuc's from people who have done the regular dining room experience, so despite the fact that I usually discard reviews that seem more defensive than substantive, I think you're more likely to enjoy the experience at the sushi counter and cannot speak for the regular table service.

                        I really haven't heard anything special about Kaz. You might look into Kushi, though, which has a grill counter in addition to the sushi counter. Some people think they have some of the best sushi in the city currently.

                        1. re: Robert Ogden

                          My husband and I are recent DC transplants and have been very disappointed in the food thus far. We wanted to try Kaz, but it was closed on Sunday, so we went to Sushi Ko for dinner. I'm not exaggerating when I say that we kicked ourselves later when we passed by the Whole Foods a few doors down. The sushi at Sushi Ko was comparable to Whole Foods packaged nigiri at a fraction of the cost. My problem with Sushi Ko was that it was all very bland. They didn't even do anything with the rice. It was plain sticky rice -- the kind I make at home all the time. I'm still perplexed as to what exactly we paid for. The Glover Park location? I don't think so. The ambience? Well, two "gentlemen" in flip flops came in and took off their flip flops -- one even draped his bare foot over a chair for most of his meal. So no, that can't be it. The service was fine and everyone was exceedingly nice, but that doesn't make up for "meh" fish at those prices. We're sticking with Kotobuki for now, even if it is a pain to get to.

                          1. re: dcgremlintummy

                            I'm checking out Kaz this Saturday. We were looking for mid-priced sushi and so aren't up for Sushi Taro. I'm not expecting it to stack up to the omakasse counter, but I hope it's better than your experience with Ko. I will report back.

                            And thanks for your thoughts on Sushi Ko. Do you think it's a Sunday thing?

                            Also, to the OP, if it's still relevant, I was not impressed with the sushi at Kushi, but there's the Sunday thing and people who know what they're talking about can't seem to shut up about it. Also, they have a grill counter in addition to a sushi counter, so there's more than just sushi going on there. I think their best stuff is non-fish, though - the uni, unagi, etc.

                        2. Okay, finally went to Kaz this weekend. It was pretty decent. I had mostly nigiri - Norwegian mackerel, the flounder with plum sauce, and the toro - which was excellent, as one would expect. The flounder was also really good. The mackerel was off the specials menu, but it wasn't great, IMO. We also had some rolls - tuna and jalepeno, and the octopus appetizer, which was really great.

                          It was not at all equivalent to my experience at Sushi Taro, but I've never eaten off the menu there since they're redone the place, and I've never eaten at the chef's counter at Kaz, so I probably can't really make a direct comparison fairly.

                          1. For anyone still interested... I ended up at Sei, and Kushi. Kushi is really good, Sei, not so much. I reviewed on yelp.

                            http://www.yelp.com/user_details?user...

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: Robert Ogden

                              For anyone still reading, while I'm not the world's biggest sushi fan or afficionada, I did live in Tokyo for almost 8 years and even learned how to make sushi at the Kikkoman cooking school. I think that Sushi Taro (and I've not been there since the re-vamp) has the more "neighborhood Japanese izakaya" type atmosphere - and I liked it because there was wide variety on the menu - so that if you took a group, there was something for everyone. Also liked the choice of a Western table, sushi bar or tatami area. Kaz has a more limited menu not appealing to some people. Perhaps more "upscale" - but not so much atmosphere to me, personally. A Japanese friend recently located to DC and I are going to try out Uni this Friday evening on a tasting menu with sake pairs.

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

                              1. re: jqw3827

                                I would argue that Sushi Taro is undeniably more upscale. I really, really liked the atmosphere there.

                                I liked Kaz, but it wasn't sushi I'm going to remember for the rest of my life or anything, and I did think the menu was kind of limited. Anyway, please post about your experience with Uni - I will keep an eye out for it. I also keep meaning to check out Sushi-Ko.

                                1. re: jqw3827

                                  I've been to Uni a handful of times, and it's been uniformly mediocre. It's been a while, though, so please let us know if that's changed.

                                2. re: Robert Ogden

                                  Kushi is good. Mostly the non-sushi dishes, though the sushi is just above average, not great. Sei is terrible. Trendy crap, some good stuff there but overall the sushi quality is so-so at best.

                                  1. re: masonuc

                                    Masonuc, respectfully...I must disagree! Kushi has some of the finest sushi anywhere, and a very nice selection.