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.
Aged wine? Yes. Aged cheese? Sure. But aged noodles? You wouldn’t expect it, but after noodles arrive from Sapporo, Japan, Ren’s staff stores them at a specific temperature and humidity to bring out their ideal texture and flavor. Once noodles are at their peak, the staff plops them into steaming bowls of ramen.
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.
Caf? Asia's menu reads like a jetsetter's dream itinerary. Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, China, Japan, and Vietnam. These seven East Asian countries may be the starting point for the eclectic lineup of spring rolls, ramen, fried rice, panggang, and noodle bowls, but it's Caf? Asia's chefs who take it to new places. The Vietnamese grilled pork demands special attention; chefs marinate the meat overnight with lime, garlic, fish sauce, and pepper. Caf? Asia could easily stand on its own as a sushi bar, however. Contemporary twists on traditional rolls have led to creations such as the eight-piece cajun roll with crawfish tail, sriracha, spicy mayo, and diced jalape?o, which is the world's spiciest fish.
The food's diversity has won many fans. In an article published on January 3, 2011, Examiner.com rightly noted that the restaurant has "enough choices to please almost any palate." The Washington Post also noted that the restaurant has hosted such distinguished guests as Dr. Jill Biden. Two full-service bars and a lounge allow Caf? Asia to host a slate of special events each year, including its New Year's Eve party.
Before guests to Japone—or its less-formal sister eatery, Café Japone, located upstairs—even take their first bites, they notice the restaurant’s unusually colorful environment: an attached lounge area dubbed Sango Sho surrounds patrons in oceanic hues and fiber-optic luminescence, and regular DJ performances keep toes moving so that they don’t get caught by a shark. Karaoke kicks off at 9:30 p.m. every night in both Japone and Café Japone, giving guests two places to show off their pipes on a continually updated list of the latest hit English, Japanese, and Spanish-language tracks.
To keep mouths happy, Japone's French-trained chef fuses Japanese and French flavors. Entrees include curried jumbo shrimp and scallops, plated with fresh veggies, japanese mushrooms, and a dollop of rice, while sushi specialties include the Arizona roll with shrimp tempura and carrot.
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.