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Izakaya Seki, U Street Corridor - Chef Hiroshi Seki and GM Cizuka Seki on 11th and V Streets

U Street Corridor Shaw Japanese Izakaya Sashimi Sake

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#1 Food Nomad

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Posted 07 August 2012 - 02:24 AM

One of the more pleasant dining experiences, I've had in a long time. The space is simple, clean and serene which is a great reflection of the food. I went early so it wasn't so crowded but I'm guessing that this place will be consistently packed. If you had to try one dish, get the grilled Mero with miso. It's sea bass that has a nice char on the outside but comes out tasting smooth and creamy. My full post is below;

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#2 TedE

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Posted 07 August 2012 - 12:09 PM

I'm very excited to try this place; it looks like what I had hoped Kushi would be (not to knock Kushi, we go there often, but it's a different vibe).

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#3 Jimmy Chandler

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Posted 28 August 2012 - 03:58 PM

The Wife and I have made two recent trips to Izakaya Seki, and we are eager to return. This is the type of Japanese food I have been craving in DC; I don't think there is another place like it here in atmosphere, quality and price.

These dishes are fantastic

- Grilled Mero with miso
- Special of Hamachi sashimi
- Cold soba noodles
- Fried rice with garlic and shiso leaf
- Tsukune (chicken meatballs)

Question: is there another restaurant in the DC area that serves freshly made Soba noodles? I've only had these twice before visiting Seki, once in NYC and once in LA. I love Soba, but I'm not expert enough to know how Seki's stack up. I do know there is a big difference in fresh vs. packaged.

Good but not great

- Cream croquettes (béchamel, crab and corn, served with a mole sauce. Yes you read that right.)
- Assorted roasted mushrooms (The Wife figures out that mixing the mushrooms with the fried rice was a good combination, I don't know if the chef would be horrified by our actions or not)
- Kyona salad (I think I'm just not a big fan of mizuna, otherwise this salad may rate higher. Nice balance with the vinaigrette and egg.)

Price is quite reasonable -- we spent an average of about $70-75 for 5-6 dishes, though we didn't order any alcohol either visit.

Both times we ate upstairs, and service was decent, friendly. I would not order all of my food at once, as they don't seem to have the timing down: on our first visit all the food came at the same time. I want to eat at the counter downstairs on my next visit.

#4 Bob Loblaw

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 09:54 AM

Question: is there another restaurant in the DC area that serves freshly made Soba noodles? I've only had these twice before visiting Seki, once in NYC and once in LA. I love Soba, but I'm not expert enough to know how Seki's stack up. I do know there is a big difference in fresh vs. packaged.


Are you sure it was fresh soba? The menu doesn't indicate that it is, and soba is a pretty specialized thing, so I'd be surprised if they were making their own. I don't know of any places in the area that make fresh soba (if anyone else does - do tell!).

Good but not great

- Cream croquettes (béchamel, crab and corn, served with a mole sauce. Yes you read that right.)


I tried these on a recent visit. I think that was actually a Japanese curry sauce. Although lacking in crab flavor, I thought the croquettes were very good. Nicely fried -- in fact everything coming out of the fryer that night looked great.

We were very happy with all the items we tried and can't wait to go back to explore the rest of the menu. Standouts were the shime saba and hamachi kama. The only disappointment was the free appetizer of fried then marinated horse mackerel. Even though it was marinated, it was actually pretty bland and a little tough. I imagine some people might find it intimidating to eat the whole fish - head, bones, and all. It was a generous portion with two small fish per person. I would've actually preferred one. I can't really complain though -- it was free, after all.

Seki is a welcome addition to the scene, and helps fill the void left by the old Sushi Taro. I would definitely recommend sitting at the counter, if you can, to watch all the chefs in action.

#5 Jimmy Chandler

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 10:58 AM

Are you sure it was fresh soba? The menu doesn't indicate that it is, and soba is a pretty specialized thing, so I'd be surprised if they were making their own.


I asked our waiter and he claimed they are fresh soba. I think I also discussed this with the owner (daughter of the chef, she plays hostess, brings food to and busses the tables upstairs, generally hustling all the time to keep things running smoothly) as well.

I tried these on a recent visit. I think that was actually a Japanese curry sauce.


Our waitress referred to the sauce as a mole. It definitely tasted of chocolate. I made a comment to the owner that it's not very Japanese to use a mole sauce, and she agreed with a smile. It's possible the sauce was different than the one you had.

#6 hillvalley

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Posted 01 September 2012 - 04:13 PM

I just asked and was told the soba was imported. The saga continues.....
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#7 Marty L.

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Posted 01 September 2012 - 08:02 PM

I just asked and was told the soba was imported. The saga continues.....


I was told the same last night. The soba was actually the least intriguing thing we ate (in part because I had just had fantastic soba at SobaKoh in NYC the week before). I would report that it was a wonderful meal, and a delightful learning experience sitting in front of Chef Seki, except that he doesn't want to attract long waiting lists, and I'd really like to be able to drop in and grab a seat at the bar when I fancy. So I think I'll just say that Kliman is right, and leave it at that.

#8 sheldman

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 07:18 PM

Very very nice.

Highlights included house-made vinegar-cured mackerel; udon noodles with dashi etc.; sashimi special, with excellent quality and variety (the selection apparently changes rapidly, even during the course of an evening); burdock and lotus salad. Excellent use of shiso in a couple of dishes (leading to informative conversation with chef on the proper cultivation of shiso, after I told him that my backyard has been overtaken by it).

Very welcoming place. Not too crowded to sit at the bar on the early side (630). Check it out.

#9 dpamlin

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Posted 15 September 2012 - 12:24 PM

I am looking forward to going... I used to go to Chef Seki's small sushi restaurant in St. Louis when I was in college. It really was an important step on my road to sushi expert (self-appointed, natch). I have heard nothing but great things about his new place in DC.

#10 Marty L.

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Posted 15 September 2012 - 01:59 PM

Just to keep expectations in order-- there's no sushi here. Indeed, Chef Seki insists that he is decidedly not a sushi chef. (his St. Louis restaurant served sushi as a concession to the market there.)

#11 willyfung

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 10:36 PM

Went in for dinner last night and had a great meal. Tried a few dishes and was pleased to very impressed with them.

- Ankimo (Monkfish liver) - a bit on the firmer side but still a nice rich taste. It is in season now as the livers are usually very fat and tasty this time of year.
- Kurobuta pork sausage - Lovely texture to the skin and the sausages themselves had more bounce to them than any that I've had before. The texture was better than the taste
- Beef Tongue - Nice dish but it used the same yuzu/miso mustard as the ankimo, and a bit pricey at $12 for 3 pieces
- Grilled pike mackerel - Quite a treat, very simple dish but nice to see a simple whole grilled fish on the menu. Avoid the belly part if you don't like a bitter taste. Pike mackerels are also in season so give it a try, it's quite a majestic looking fish.
- Rock shrimp fritters - Solid tempura skills, right amount of batter and ingredients ratio to hold the fritters together

Had a couple of Japanese bottled beers that I haven't seen around the area. Unique selection but a bit on the pricey side.

Overall a great experience, the service was warm and welcoming. Would definitely go back to try some of the other dishes that we were too full to try this time.

First post on the site, hope this is the feedback you guys like to read!

#12 chefgunshow

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 08:45 AM

I was at the bar when Willy Fung came in. I also thought it was awesome. The wife and I had the chicken meatballs, calamari salad, uni with quail egg, cold soba noodles, and plenty of the bambi sake.

We sat at the bar and enjoyed the simple food and casual service. I think this is my new monday hangout.

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#13 willyfung

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 01:06 PM

Chefgunshow was quite taken with the cute bambi sake glasses that you get to take home after your meal. I was intrigued by the uni dish, how many pieces come on an order?

#14 chefgunshow

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 05:53 PM

I'm collecting the whole set. It was at least 8 pieces.

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#15 Albert Yi

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Posted 25 October 2012 - 09:12 PM

So I've started coming here before shows at the 9:30 Club since the location is convenient. Tonight I had the grilled mackerel pike (saury) and the cold soba.

The saury was served with some grated daikon and (I believe) a shishito pepper. It was okay. I think it needed more salt but it was fine on its own. Be aware that you'll spend a lot of time picking out the cartilage. I'm more used to the canned version where everything is calcified enough that you can eat it all comfortably. But my mom used to serve saury a lot and this dish brought back some fond memories.

The soba was fine. Dressed with more grated daikon and some scallions. I think the dip was a bit too salty but it's easy to adjust.

I drank all of this with an Orion, which was mediocre, typical of Japanese macro lagers. Seki does have a decent Japanese craft beer list (Coedo and Hitachino are well represented) but the bottles are ridiculously priced. $11 for Hitachino White? I didn't pay that much even in Bethesda.

I was more impressed by my previous meal which included ankimo, bacon wrapped scallops, and kakiage. The ankimo was a little mealy and cold and honestly there wasn't enough yuzu dressing to balance the flavors. The scallops were pretty conventional but good. The kakiage was outstanding, crispy and not at all greasy. I'm eager to try their karaage.

#16 The Doctor

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 11:47 AM

Chefgunshow was quite taken with the cute bambi sake glasses that you get to take home after your meal. I was intrigued by the uni dish, how many pieces come on an order?


What does one have to do in order to get the take home glasses?

#17 Arlene Ivana

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 12:05 PM

What does one have to do in order to get the take home glasses?


I'm speaking out of turn since I haven't been here and don't know what preciesly what they're referring to but there are sakes sold as singles in reusable jars with cute designs, sorta like those jam jars that were popular when I was younger. Maybe they're these http://www.sakedisco...urai-at-ippudo/ ?

#18 darkstar965

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 10:08 PM

Is it easy to get tables here on weeknights or has it moved into Little Serow and Toki type queue madness? Don't think they take reservations if yelp is right.

#19 chefgunshow

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Posted 07 November 2012 - 08:44 AM

I went two Mondays in a row and had no problem getting two seats at the bar.

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#20 Lori Gardner

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Posted 08 November 2012 - 11:52 PM

they take reservations only for parties of eight. I was there tonight and originally had a reservation for 8 people. I had three late cancellations so we showed up with 5 people and they were not happy. not sure what the problem wasm since we were there early and there a number of empty tables upstairs. had some really delicious food- particularly fried rice and garlic chips, grilled bbq beef short ribs, spinach goma, tuna sashimi, and salmon tataki. oh and mero grilled with miso. I should just list everything we had- it was all pretty great.

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#21 sheldman

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 08:12 PM

Another really good dinner. Highlights were

1) a somewhat challenging but delicious fermented squid dish (a special) - I think I am correct in saying that it was called squid shio kara - with a small cup of a sake that they recommend as a pairing

followed by

2) the comfort food to beat all comfort foods, fried rice with garlic and shiso - the shiso cut into such tiny little slivers, making it beautiful as well as tasty

The bar area was hopping by about 630

#22 Marty L.

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 10:38 PM

We have to coordinate our Seki outings sometime, Sam! I have noticed one distinct trend in recent meals that might be helpful for those who haven't tried it yet: The specials have been much stronger than the menu items. Some of the latter can be hit-or-miss or merely ok; perhaps they're starting to go through the motions more on those (except the arugula-based salad, which has been a hit every time). Virtually every single special, though, including the sashimi of the day, has been fantastic.

Another really good dinner. Highlights were

1) a somewhat challenging but delicious fermented squid dish (a special) - I think I am correct in saying that it was called squid shio kara - with a small cup of a sake that they recommend as a pairing

followed by

2) the comfort food to beat all comfort foods, fried rice with garlic and shiso - the shiso cut into such tiny little slivers, making it beautiful as well as tasty

The bar area was hopping by about 630



#23 Bart

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Posted 13 March 2013 - 02:37 PM

Can anyone explain a little more about the seating/lack of reservation policy?

 

How do you go about sitting at the bar on a weeknight (2 people)?

 

My understanding is it's like Little Serow......no reservations, first come, first served.  The difference is that all the seats in Little Serrow are basically the same (i.e. no bar area).  If I showed up and there were no bar seats, could I wait for one?

 

And is that even worth it?  My wife and I generally like watching the "show" so I'm thinking about trying to snag bar seats, but maybe it's better to be upstairs?

 

Can someone clue me in?

 

Thanks!



#24 Mark Dedrick

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Posted 13 March 2013 - 02:46 PM

I've only eaten there twice, both times on weeknights, so somebody else might be better able to offer advice. Both times we ate at Izakaya Seki we had no trouble just walking in and snagging seats downstairs at the bar. And having seen the upstairs space I believe that for two people the bar would be preferable. It's cool to be able to watch your food (and other people's food) be put together in front of you, and you may see something in the process that you want to add on to your order. 


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#25 darkstar965

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Posted 13 March 2013 - 02:58 PM

Can anyone explain a little more about the seating/lack of reservation policy?

 

How do you go about sitting at the bar on a weeknight (2 people)?

 

My understanding is it's like Little Serow......no reservations, first come, first served.  The difference is that all the seats in Little Serrow are basically the same (i.e. no bar area).  If I showed up and there were no bar seats, could I wait for one?

 

And is that even worth it?  My wife and I generally like watching the "show" so I'm thinking about trying to snag bar seats, but maybe it's better to be upstairs?

 

Can someone clue me in?

 

Thanks!

 

We've been here at least 6 times since it opened. Love it and think it brilliantly occupied a niche yet unfilled among the legions of Japanese spots in the city. Most recent visit a week or so ago.  I'm not sure that I've ever posted on it. Maybe. I'll check and, if not, I probably should just to share some of what we've experienced and why we're big fans.

 

To answer your question though, it's not quite the free-for-all, first-come-first-serve approach that LS and maybe Toki are.

 

They will take a reservation for parties over a certain size. I believe the minimum is 6 for a booking. I think (not 100% sure), I've done that once.  Otherwise, it is first-come-first-serve with a list and cell-phone-call-back approach. But, different from LS, at least still now, Seki is popular but not mobbed.  On weeknights you'll typically walk in and get a table or counter spots with no trouble. Busier days like holidays, Fridays and weekends, just go earlier and you'll be fine.  Worst case, you'll maybe wait an hour or two if you get there with four people at 7:30 on a Saturday night.

 

Tables upstairs and counter seats downstairs are all fungible.  You just indicate any preference and they'll honor it. Or can specify first available.

 

Seki isn't a huge place and doesn't have large tables though some can be pushed together.  Best for minimizing wait time is with two people.  3 or 4 isn't too bad but you'll note a difference if you go regularly since there are only a few tables that can accommodate four.

 

Oh, and in my opinion, and especially if you go solo, or with no more than three in your group, the bar is very much worth it. The chefs will answer questions and interact with customers.  And, as with any place doing interesting and different cooking, the show is a lot of fun to watch.

 

Hope that helps.



#26 Bart

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Posted 13 March 2013 - 03:29 PM

Thanks Darkstar!  Just what I was looking for.

 

This will be a birthday dinner for my wife so it will be just two of us.  That's also why I wanted to sit at the counter.......dinner and a show!


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#27 DPop

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 01:35 PM

My favorite seat in Washington, DC right now is the one in the middle of the bar right in front of Chef Seki and my favorite dish is the Hamachikama, which I have gotten in the habit of tearing apart and devouring shamelessly like a great piece of fried chicken at a picnic.

All that said, nothing to see here. Stay in line at Toki and Little Serow....
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#28 DonRocks

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 05:45 AM

All that said, nothing to see here. Stay in line at Toki and Little Serow....

 

Uh, huh ... ;)


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#29 Kev29

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 09:51 AM

Updated:
 

All that said, nothing to see here. Stay in line at Toki and Little Serow Daikaya Izakaya....



#30 turbogrrl

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Posted 14 April 2013 - 09:03 PM

Our original destination didn't pan out tonight, so on a whim we redirected here. Lovely space. Standouts of the evening were the Hamachikama, the short ribs, the fried rice, the agedashi tofu, and the aki and shrimp tempura. A couple of the dishes were served with candied kumquats, which were intense and awesome. 

 

They were out of the uni and the black sesame flan, which made me sad, but we had a great dinner. I think if we still lived at 9th and V we'd be here every week.


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#31 astrid

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 10:17 AM

After two fantastic visits here, I definitely agree with the above opinions.  Definitely my favorite *Asian* place in DC right now (Bangkok Golden might be a close second, but I need another visit or three to, ergh, affirm that opinion).  Every dish we tried was as good as the best of Daikaya, Sushi Taro, Kaz, or Kushi.  Plus, the wait staff is extremely pleasant and helpful by Japanese restaurant standards. 

 

Just need to get a second job to pay for future visits here. :D



#32 Cizuka Seki

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Posted 29 May 2013 - 07:02 PM

they take reservations only for parties of eight. I was there tonight and originally had a reservation for 8 people. I had three late cancellations so we showed up with 5 people and they were not happy. not sure what the problem wasm since we were there early and there a number of empty tables upstairs.

 

Just a quick update on our reservation policy -- we take reservations for parties of 5 to 8 people.  We'll seat parties smaller than 5 on a first come, first serve basis.  These days, the average wait times are much less than when we first opened.  On weeknights, there is often no wait.  On Fridays and Saturdays, however, the wait might be up to an hour.  If this is the case, we'll take your name and number so you can grab a drink nearby until a table is available.  All in all, it's been a very smooth and efficient process.

 

We'll take reservations for even larger parties but with additional terms and depending on the size.  Our full reservation policy is posted on our website:  www.sekidc.com/reservations.htm

 

Sorry for any confusion regarding the reservations.  It took a while to figure out what works best for us and our patrons.


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#33 DPop

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Posted 30 May 2013 - 09:11 AM

The Aji Tataki is back on the specials menu right now, and it's just as good as Don said. And dont pause when they ask you if you'd like the carcass deep fried after you've picked out all the delicious raw fish. Just do it.
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#34 JoshNE

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Posted 30 May 2013 - 12:24 PM

Since the reservation policy has come up recently, I thought I'd share that over the holiday weekend, I went with a party of 6 and had and we all had a great time.  The reservation process was straightforward, and the service was fantastic from the moment we walked in, to closing the door behind us.  I think we tackled nearly the entire menu, but the beef tongue and fried oysters really stood out on this visit.  The oysters had an excellent breading, verging on too much, but in a good way. Served piping hot, and devoured within seconds. The BBQ eel special was fantastic, and had to be ordered in multiples to prevent chopstick stabbings.



#35 Cizuka Seki

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Posted 08 June 2013 - 05:13 PM

Most restaurant owners cannot eschew the monitoring of their yelp reviews.  The writers are generally not insightful but occasionally, they are.

 

Mike G. from Washington, DC, THANK YOU for your feedback!


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#36 chefgunshow

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Posted 08 June 2013 - 06:08 PM

That. Is. Awesome. The only question is, what celebrity can we beg to read it on YouTube? Shatner? Thoughts?


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#37 Sthitch

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Posted 08 June 2013 - 08:30 PM

That review is a microcosm of all that is wrong with Yelp. So from what I read:

1) you suck because I cannot find parking and I am scared that the people I this strange neighborhood are going to rob me, oh and move to the suburbs because you suck.
2) You have a sushi chef, which is strange as you do not sell sushi, but you suck anyway for having a surely sushi chef.
3) I expect that when I order the vegetable of the day that even when you tell me what it is that if I do not like it, I order it anyway and you suck for not knowing ahead of time that I am a complete and total fucking idiot and expect arugula.

Wow.

#38 Pat

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Posted 09 June 2013 - 07:35 AM

That review is a microcosm of all that is wrong with Yelp. So from what I read:

1) you suck because I cannot find parking and I am scared that the people I this strange neighborhood are going to rob me, oh and move to the suburbs because you suck.
2) You have a sushi chef, which is strange as you do not sell sushi, but you suck anyway for having a surely sushi chef.
3) I expect that when I order the vegetable of the day that even when you tell me what it is that if I do not like it, I order it anyway and you suck for not knowing ahead of time that I am a complete and total fucking idiot and expect arugula.

Wow.

 

The last sentence of the first paragraph is what did it for me.  Microcosm of the whole thing.


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#39 Fishinnards

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Posted 09 June 2013 - 09:54 AM

Mr. Mike G. only has 6 reviews. He hated Masala Art and Fojol Bros. food truck (one star), but he loved Meatballs. :D



#40 sheldman

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Posted 09 June 2013 - 10:40 AM

I think it's really uncool of chef Mike G to compete against other restaurants by gaming their Yelp reviews.  Plus, he's obviously confused about which izakaya is which.

 

(joke!)


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#41 DaveO

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Posted 09 June 2013 - 12:28 PM

As an smb operator reviews give me the heebie jeebies.  Non restaurants have a somewhat different experience versus restaurants..but not that different.

 

You have such great reviews across the board.  In that you are newish and don't use opentable the vast majority of reviews to date sit on yelp.  I'm sure a flood of other reviews in yelp and other review sources will push that single review out of sight in time.

 

Yelp of course will never take that rant down, but you can respond..though they don't make the response highly visual.   And then again you may not want to respond.  other than to suggest the guy stay out in the suburbs.  

 

One other thing I noticed is that you have relatively few filtered reviews suggesting the folks who are reviewing you on yelp are experienced enough reviewers to get their reviews up.  I suspect that will continue.

 

Assuming the restaurant will stay top notch...that review is a pain but not something to worry about.  One can't please everyone every day.   ...and more great reviews will be forthcoming.   And I think you recognize that on some level...otherwise why showcase this cretin here???  ;)



#42 Cizuka Seki

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 04:06 PM

LISTEN UP.

 

we started a happy hour today from 5-7pm, Monday, Wednesday, Thursdays.

 

we'll be offering DRAFT BEER or a glass of SHOCHU  PLUS one small bite -- we're starting with the option of one yakitori skewer (kashiwa/thigh), mini tomatoes wrapped in bacon, or tuna sashimi for $5!!!  holy jesus son of Mary!

 

so leave work early and play hooky with us!! 


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#43 DaveO

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Posted 14 June 2013 - 04:16 PM

LISTEN UP.

 

we started a happy hour today from 5-7pm, Monday, Wednesday, Thursdays.

 

we'll be offering DRAFT BEER or a glass of SHOCHU  PLUS one small bite -- we're starting with the option of one yakitori skewer (kashiwa/thigh), mini tomatoes wrapped in bacon, or tuna sashimi for $5!!!  holy jesus son of Mary!

 

so leave work early and play hooky with us!! 

 

Frankly I think this is one of the most compelling happy hour offers I've seen in a looooooooooooooong time.   now if only I lived or worked closer and left work earlier.


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#44 Cizuka Seki

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Posted 14 June 2013 - 04:19 PM

Frankly I think this is one of the most compelling happy hour offers I've seen in a looooooooooooooong time.   now if only I lived or worked closer and left work earlier.

 

Thank you.  You might be interested to know that my dad wants to offer this on Sundays as well...I'm torn.  Why does Sunday need a happy hour?  Everyone except me is super happy on Sundays.  On the other hand, if it gets people in the door before 7pm....


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#45 Choirgirl21

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Posted 14 June 2013 - 05:23 PM

Thank you.  You might be interested to know that my dad wants to offer this on Sundays as well...I'm torn.  Why does Sunday need a happy hour?  Everyone except me is super happy on Sundays.  On the other hand, if it gets people in the door before 7pm....

 

As someone who lives and works in MD and is the sole caretaker of various critters it's virtually impossible for me to get into the city for happy hour. So  a weekend happy hour would make this girl's already happy Sunday even happier for sure. ;)


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#46 Sthitch

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Posted 15 June 2013 - 09:36 AM

Generally my first meal when arriving in Japan is at a small neighborhood izakaya.  These intimate temples to drinking (mostly sake and beer) and serving food that is conducive to drinking and socializing are the perfect cure for the cobwebs of the flight and interminable train ride from Narita.

 

Seeing too many Kushi’s of the world bastardizing the word “izakaya” I feared that Seki was going to do the same.  Having Cizuka on the site helped to mollify those fears.  So last night we finally made the trek to U St (by the way Don, it is more on the corner of V and 12th than V and 11th).  Arriving a little before 6 I had no problem securing two seats at the bar.

 

Waiting for my dining companion to arrive I ordered a very enjoyable Hitachino White Ale, pricy yes, but quite refreshing.  I was debating whether to stick with beer or move onto sake, what I liked about Seki’s beverage list is that they have taken the time to explain the various types of sushi, shochu, and even the beers.  This goes beyond just tasting notes that you might find on a wine list and actually details on what makes a sake a Daiginjo as opposed to just a Ginjo – this is a very helpful inclusionary addition that I have never seen any other Japanese restaurants take the time to do. 

 

Reading through the beverage list helped to pass the countless hours waiting for my dining companion to finally show up (he almost always has to wait for me, but I was hungry so the 10 minutes that I had to wait seemed like hours).  We started by ordering 7 dishes, the Tako Wasabi, Saba, beef tongue, uni, ankimo, grilled fish cheeks, and shrimp/fish tempura (the last two were off of the specials list). 

 

The first dish to arrive was the Tako Wasabi.  I searched through the thread and was surprised that no one had commented on this dish yet.  This was the perfect start to the meal, the sweet heat of the wasabi opened up the senses and the contrasting viscous and chewy textures of the chopped raw octopus added a wonderful complexity to this dish.  This acted as a wonderful amuse to the rest of our meal.

 

The next dish to arrive was the Uni Starter.  We sat pondering the best way to eat the dish so that we could take advantage of the raw quail egg in the bottom.  At a loss for ideas we asked the waitress (not sure her name, but hard to miss the full sleeves of tattoos, more on her later) for some ideas.  She said that she usually stirs up the yolk and adds a little soy sauce to it to use as a dip for the uni.  We dumped out the uni onto another plate and did as she suggested.  It was indeed a great idea, the uni was impeccably fresh with an almost candy like sweetness.  In retrospect, I wish that they had served the yolk in a bowl on the side.

 

While eating the uni, the House-Made Shime Saba and Ankimo showed up. Tardy Dining Companion (aka Eric) expected the saba to be a little closer to ceviche instead of cooking and overpowering the fish, instead the vinegar cure in the saba removed the oiliness that you expect from mackerel.  What was left was a fresh tasting mackerel devoid of its usual gamey fishiness. 

 

The Ankimo was as I expected a piece of the foie gras of the sea.  The vinaigrette was a brilliant match the bite of the yuzu acting as a foil to the fat of the liver, and the miso adding a wonderful savoriness that is usually absent from such fat heavy dishes.

 

The tempura was the next arrival.  What arrived was a plate of two long pieces of shrimp and three pieces of a butterflied fish (the name escapes me, but it might have been Mozu).  The pieces were competently fried without being overly saturated with oil.  Even with the bowl of dipping sauce the pieces desperately needed the macha salt – this is not a complaint, I have found that real tempura is never salted when it comes out of the frying and it is left to the diner to use the provided flavored salt to season to taste.

The other special were the grilled cheeks of the fish that is used for the sashimi.  Eric was a bit leery as a fishy smell arrived with the dish, however, the fishy flavor did not come across in any of the fish.  What a great use of scraps.

 

At this point there was a lull as we waited on our Beef Tongue, so we decided to order a few more things.  Two of the items were off of the $5 sake accompaniment portion of the menu, they were the squid in liver sauce, and cured firecracker squid, the other dish was the Kurobuta Sausage.

 

The squid in liver sauce was a polarizing dish.  The liver sauce is very pungent, and after two bites Eric left the rest of the dish for me to finish.  I am not saying that I would sit and eat bowl after bowl of this, but there was an almost blue cheese quality to the sauce that I found alluring. 

 

We had a dish similar to the firecracker squid at Daikya, but this was a far more generous portion and significantly less expensive without losing any quality or complexity.  There was something of a citrus flower taste to the squid, like an orange blossom.

 

Finally the Beef Tongue arrived.  I liked the first piece, but that is about my limit for tongue.  It was very tender and had a delicious flavor, but was incredibly rich.  I am glad that the dish had not arrived earlier, it was so rich that I think that it would have made it difficult to eat much afterwards.  While I liked the yuzu miso with the Akimo, in this dish I thought that it needed more yuzu and less miso to cut the richness.

 

Our final dish was the Kurobuta Sausage.  This is the one dish that I would not order again.  The sausages were just too bland, and the mustard did not do enough to bring life to them.
We were sitting next to the pass and saw some wonderful dishes go past.  I made sure to take note of the dishes that looked like something I would want to order in the future.  The wildest looking dish came up right as we were leaving; it was the fried baby octopus – whole baby octopi sitting along a rectangular plate as if they were swimming along in a straight line.  I wish we had seen this dish earlier as we would have added an order to our dinner.

 

The food was spirited, but at the same time simple.  The atmosphere was spot on, quiet but not dead, restrained, but not colorless.  The service was helpful, but not overbearing, the waitress with the colorful arms really knew the menu and made certain that our glasses were never empty.  Seki is everything that I look for in an izakaya. 


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#47 Ericandblueboy

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Posted 17 June 2013 - 01:07 PM

While eating the uni, the House-Made Shime Saba and Ankimo showed up. Tardy Dining Companion (aka Eric) expected the saba to be a little closer to ceviche instead of cooking and overpowering the fish, instead the vinegar cure in the saba removed the oiliness that you expect from mackerel.  What was left was a fresh tasting mackerel devoid of its usual gamey fishiness. 

 

The squid in liver sauce was a polarizing dish.  The liver sauce is very pungent, and after two bites Eric left the rest of the dish for me to finish.  I am not saying that I would sit and eat bowl after bowl of this, but there was an almost blue cheese quality to the sauce that I found alluring. 

 

Finally the Beef Tongue arrived.  I liked the first piece, but that is about my limit for tongue.  It was very tender and had a delicious flavor, but was incredibly rich.  I am glad that the dish had not arrived earlier, it was so rich that I think that it would have made it difficult to eat much afterwards.  While I liked the yuzu miso with the Akimo, in this dish I thought that it needed more yuzu and less miso to cut the richness.

 

Shime saba is usually more "cooked" at sushi joints.  The fact that these saba had the texture of raw fish was pretty interesting.  The squid in liver sauce reminded me of the purplish shrimp paste found in Vietnamese cooking - something too pungent for my liking.  I loved the beef tongue and the wasabi sauce - like eating roast beef with horseradish.  I see myself going to Izakaya Seki on Sunday evenings - when I can drive and park instead of paying $13 to Metro.  I vote yes on Sunday happy hour! 



#48 Cizuka Seki

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Posted 22 June 2013 - 06:05 PM

FYinformation:

 

Izakaya Seki will be closed for the Fourth of July in order for me to consume as many racks of dry rub barbeque ribs as possible.  See you on the 5th!

 

USA_Independence_Day_wallpaper_20071.jpg


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#49 Cizuka Seki

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Posted 28 June 2013 - 04:07 PM

We just got some very large tuna jaws (maguro no kama) in today from a Japanese farm outside of mexico.  The tuna is bluefin and I am fully aware of the sustainability issues around tuna (even in the case of farm raised).  Please talk to my dad directly about this......That said, it is delicious......

 

I had to take a saw to them.  It was awesome.  and exhausting.  Each cut was 1/4 of the jaw and about 12 inches long, which is the size of the pull saw.  So this tuna was probably about 400 lbs. 

 

Also the jaw meat is TORO.  Your choice of salt or tare (sauce).

 

photo.JPG   image.jpeg   image_1.jpeg   image_2.jpeg


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#50 dinoue

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Posted 28 June 2013 - 09:35 PM

We just got some very large tuna jaws (maguro no kama) in today from a Japanese farm outside of mexico.  The tuna is bluefin and I am fully aware of the sustainability issues around tuna (even in the case of farm raised). 

 

We had Ten Qoo brand farm raised blue fin up in NYC at Inakaya which was fantastic. They had a special whole tuna cutting event for the North American debut of the product and it just happened to be the day after a wedding we attended up there. The akami was like chutoro.







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