At HeeBeen Asian Bistro, visitors delight in a culinary exploration that’s aided by a wide buffet counter topped with myriad dishes that invite sampling. Trays of Korean barbecue meats lay next to hot entrees of ramen, teriyaki, tempura, and oysters rockefeller. After trips to the sushi section, patrons’ chopsticks grip morsels of unagi nigiri, slices of sashimi, or pieces of a smoked sake crunch roll. While enjoying their spread, patrons sit beneath ceiling-mounted cubes lit from within, comforted by sleek woods that dominate the dining room. And behind one of the buffets, a glass case shows off small pieces of art beneath clusters of small fairy lights.
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.
Sake and Asian-inspired cocktails pull most of the weight at Kushi. The izakaya’s monthly sake tastings introduce guests to liquor and food pairings to the tune of live music. In keeping with the social atmosphere, many of the dishes are shareable, including platters of sushi, grilled skewers, and small plates.
Wasabi cycles through a seasonally fresh assortment of bold ingredients, which come in plenty of forms beyond the roll variety. Most plates are moderately priced and portioned with the intention of pairing. Start out raw with fresh sashimi, such as salmon ($4) or yellow tail ($5), or snag a more complicated arrangement of wasabi and pork shumai dumplings in a vinegar chili soy sauce ($4). Give any plate wings by pairing it with a four-glass sake flight ($7–$20).