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.
Wasabi Zen's chefs slice, dice, and coil savory morsels of crab, eel, salmon, and fried shrimp into more than 50 sushi rolls splashed with mild and spicy sauces. Pay homage to Mother Nature without building her another recyclable spice rack by sampling the Green Tree roll ($10.95), an epicurean jungle lush with crab, cucumber, eel, and masago. The Hawaiian Sunset roll ($11.95) invokes tropical vistas through its plethora of salmon and pineapple, and the Hot Knight roll ($14.95)—an off-menu item available by request— jousts taste buds with fried shrimp and spiced shrimp and crab. Alternatively, dishes of traditional aged tofu ($5.95) or edamame ($4.95) offer meat-free options that forgo the tossing and turning of salads and soy-tracked rollercoasters.
The sounds of sputtering grill tops, clattering utensils, and lively conversation fill the dining room at Honey Pig Gooldaegee Korean Grill, earning it praise from the Washington Post in 2010 as "one of the most entertaining barbecues around." The menu brims with both familiar and adventurous meats, including pork belly, beef ribs, and pork neck. Diners select a protein-rich spread and watch as the servers sear their orders on solar-heated tableside grills. Although most of the menus revolve around grilled selections, some also feature stews and octopus- or squid-laden servings of chul pan, which Washingtonian magazine called "Korea's answer to Spain's paella." Three of the locations in Ellicott City, Centreville, and Annandale remain open 24 hours a day, six days a week, catering to the late-night crowds.
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Old Kimura treats visitors to feasts of maki and sashimi made from ocean-fresh tuna, eel, and salmon, as well as umami udon broths and tempura dishes. The restaurant seats visitors in an atmosphere of red lanterns, blossoms, and simple, angular furnishings of solid wood, creating a charming Japanese backdrop for meals of noodle soup and teriyaki chicken. Seafood fans can line up at the bar to dine on specialty rolls and watch the masterful work of the sushi chef⎯who blends the culinary knowledge of a seasoned gourmand with the knife skills of a renaissance-fair employee.