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.
Yosaku Japanese Restaurant on Wisconsin Avenue is all about their fresh fish. The top-grade sushi and sashimi joint in the Tenleytown neighborhood offers happy hour specials, lunch deals and casual dinner options for anyone seeking recently caught fish, be it in sushi roll form or as part of the restaurant’s expanded dinner menu. Inside the smallish space, eaters will find tight seating and a few token Japanese touches, like a stand of fake bamboo or the rock-filled straw basket that rests near the front door. Little else gets in the way at Yosaku, which offers teriyaki bowls, noodles and soups in addition to the rolls from the sushi bar in back. Despite the no-frills décor, this spot has been a popular local option for inexpensive sushi and cheap bento boxes since the 1980s.
Filling a need in the District for appealing pan-Asian eats, the Satay Club has obviously struck a pleasing note with a broad spectrum of locals. Slipping in at lunchtime, patrons will find tables filled with students from nearby American University, business folks out for an inexpensive bite and neighborhood pals chatting over a plate of sushi or pad Thai. For the serious eater, the menu offers such offbeat dishes as Malaysian rendang, a spicy beef stew, and gado gado, a fan-favorite Indonesian salad with lots of steamed vegetables. More familiar dishes include bowls of ramen, Chinese lo mein noodles, and roasted Peking duck. For anyone who doesn’t have time to relax inside the long red-walled and wood-heavy eatery, online ordering and quick pick-up options are available.
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.
When the proprietors of Taipei Tokyo first opened in 1993, they?modeled it after fend-for-yourself type places found in East Asia. Their cuisine was equally traditional. Back then, sushi was just beginning to become more popular in the United States, but it, along with authentic Chinese dishes, were hard to find. They decided to let the food speak for itself, and it worked. After expanding to a second location in Fallsgrove Village Center in 2003, they upped their interior-decorating game with a beautiful freestanding sushi bar and a chic, but approachable, dining room. The impressive menu runs the culinary gamut of Asia from thinly-sliced sashimi to wok-seared Chinese stir-fried broccoli to Thai-style drunken noodles.