Amid hissing steam and gouts of flame, the sound of cutlery rings out above metal grills as skilled chefs twirl their knives with practiced ease. The chefs divide juicy filet mignon steak and buttery scallops into perfectly grilled bite-sized portions, then serve them to diners at the very table where they were cooked. Across the restaurant, sushi chefs perform their own delicate knife work as they prepare, slice, and plate sushi rolls. Their specialty maki include such unique creations as the Red Dragon Roll, with asparagus and zucchini tempura, and the Fuji Roll, with fried lobster and avocado.
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.
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.
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.
The menu at Kushi is swimming with savory sushi treats and grilled delicacies. Fresh maki is skillfully rolled with yellowtail and scallion or salmon and avocado ($7 each) before being sliced into six easily consumable pieces. Kushi provides a bevy of combination platters for indecisive eaters, such as the bara chirashi with assorted sashimi diced and mixed into sushi rice ($27), or the chef’s choice, which features twelve miscellaneous sushi creations ($40). The authentic robata charcoal grill produces refined tailgate-worthy treats, including salmon fillet ($9) and mahogany quail stuffed with duck-sausage ($12). Working on the basic principal that meals taste better on a stick, a variety of kushiyaki (skewered) eats are offered, such as pork-stuffed shishito pepper ($5). Round out the feast with a special house-blend seaweed salad ($6).
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.