Sculptures of simple wooden sailboats glide across the wall behind Sake House's sushi bar, where chefs bend intently over long filets of fresh fish. In front of them in the dining room, tables draped with tidy white tablecloths stand out against the dark, wooden walls, and platters littered with colorful sushi travel on the arms of servers. Behind the bar, bottles of chilled sake wear poetic labels such as "Bamboo Dew", "Soaring Cloud", and "Black River", and at hibachi tables, chefs deftly manipulate their knives across steaks and lobsters or carve their initials into broccoli trees.
It’s important to Sakura Cafe that its sushi chef, David Li, be given free rein when it comes to creating new sushi rolls. That’s why its maki menu, with nearly 50 specialty rolls, includes creations that have likely never appeared on another menu. The New York roll wraps apple, fish eggs, avocado, and cucumber in soy paper. The Fuji Mountain roll combines eel and smoked salmon with green seaweed powder. And the Bonsai roll drizzles a spicy vinaigrette sauce over spicy tuna, fresh red tuna, and cream cheese.
For those who prefer something other than sushi, the immense menu also offers hot hibachi combinations, such as filet mignon and shrimp, and pan-Asian classics, such as drunken noodle and pad thai. It even has American options, including philly-cheesesteak wraps.
Red paper lanterns dangle from the ceiling at Ikko Sushi, casting a warm glow on careful arrangements of colorful sushi. Displays of fresh fish line the sushi bar, where chefs assemble salmon, eel, and crab into kaleidoscopes of texture and color, adorning them with extravagant flourishes of spicy sauce, wasabi, and shredded Japanese currency. Meanwhile, in the kitchen, pots bubble with rice and noodles, as grills sizzle with teriyaki beef, chicken, and pork. Servers tote dishes and cups of imported beer and sake out to tabletops that speckle both the interior and outdoor front patio.
When it first opened in March of 2001, Tsunami Sushi & Lounge was on the vanguard of local businesses and shops to settle and thrive in the 14th street corridor near Thomas Circle. Today, the ultramodern lounge relishes in its place as a nerve center for nightlife, treating guests to fresh maki and nigiri, as well as lip-smacking udon, steak, and tempura dishes. Strings of sparkling crystal globes form huge overhanging chandeliers that cast twinkling light upon brick walls, eggshell-white armchairs, and black leather benches. Guests follow a glass-lined staircase up to the restaurant's second story, gazing out upon the bustling streetscapes and poorly hidden bald spots on the sidewalk below.
True to its name, Hashi Sushi Georgetown's culinary craftsmen bundle and roll a variety of sushi rolls, but that's not the only recipe in the restaurant's cookbook. The chefs also acquaint diners with traditional Japanese and Korean dishes they may not have tried, such as fresh udon or ramen noodle soups tossed with breaded tonkatsu, or bento boxes of spicy bulgogi strewn with kimchi. On the weekends, the restaurant combines its dignified sushi-bar airs with a burst of nightlife fun replete with sake bombs and energetic crowds, before turning back into a pumpkin at 11 p.m.
Spices has clean, modern lines and an open sushi bar where diners can enjoy a visual feast while feasting. Chef Jessie Yan's menu features contemporary and home-style Asian recipes. Start with Sichuan Dragon Dumplings (chicken, watercress, and shiitake mushrooms, $6) before launching an all-out consumption attack on an unsuspecting specialty maki Dancing Eel roll (barbecue eel, crabstick, masago, avocado, and cucumber, $11) or the green curry (chicken, beef, or pork swimming in rich, creamy coconut curry with eggplant and basil, served in a brass wok; lunch $11, dinner $13). For large appetites, the big duck roasted and served with pancakes, cucumbers, scallions, and plum sauce (half duck $15, whole $30) is capable of occupying most unused stomach storage, while a zesty grilled dish such as the Vietnamese grilled shrimp, served with a Vietnamese spring roll, lettuce, cucumber, mint, and roasted peanuts over vermicelli (lunch $12, dinner $14) gently tucks hunger under a culinary blanket.