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Kushi, Modern Izakaya in Mount Vernon Triangle - Owners Darren and Ari Norris on 5th and K Street NW - Closed

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I've never been to an Izakaya before, but from what I've heard of them, I'm hoping that Kushi offers a laid-back, Japanese version of a pub. That could be a good neighborhood type of place. I'm just afraid it'll be too trendy and hip, like Sei or something.

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Looks like this place is very close to opening. One preview is up, and the menu is available.

Kind of mixed feelings on this. On the plus side it looks like they are somewhat serious about the izakaya piece (decent selection of yakitori, onigiri (yea!), robata bar). On the other hand it looks like they felt the need to class the joint up (big sushi selection, wagyu and fois gras yakitori(?!)) to make it more of a destination place. If they get the latter right it will be an interesting, dual-purpose kind of setting. As long as they keep the cheap cuts of grilled offal and the beer flowing I'll be alright with that! DC needs an izakaya.

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Looks like this place is very close to opening. One preview is up, and the menu is available.

Kind of mixed feelings on this. On the plus side it looks like they are somewhat serious about the izakaya piece (decent selection of yakitori, onigiri (yea!), robata bar). On the other hand it looks like they felt the need to class the joint up (big sushi selection, wagyu and fois gras yakitori(?!)) to make it more of a destination place. If they get the latter right it will be an interesting, dual-purpose kind of setting. As long as they keep the cheap cuts of grilled offal and the beer flowing I'll be alright with that! DC needs an izakaya.

The NOVA suburbs have one, it's called Blue Ocean.

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Looks like this place is very close to opening. One preview is up, and the menu is available.

We went last night. While the offerings and categories of that menu you've linked, TedE, are the same, the prices in the actual restaurant are uniformly higher. Also, sushi orders include 2 pieces, and the prices for the order are more than double than your linked menu.

Expect for your food to arrive blazingly quickly. If we had to do it all over again, I would have just ordered no more than 2 or 3 things at a time.

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We went last night. While the offerings and categories of that menu you've linked, TedE, are the same, the prices in the actual restaurant are uniformly higher. Also, sushi orders include 2 pieces, and the prices for the order are more than double than your linked menu.

Expect for your food to arrive blazingly quickly. If we had to do it all over again, I would have just ordered no more than 2 or 3 things at a time.

I'm comparing the two menus right now, and while I wouldn't say "more than double," I would say "substantially higher."

(That having been said, I'm not sure where that original menu came from, or even if it was supposed to be for public consumption, so I pass no judgment here.)

---

On Thursday evening, Kushi was remarkably crowded. As was to be expected with a newly opened, overrun restaurant, service was harried, with several minor mistakes that would be unfair to detail.

I planted myself right in front of the Robata grill, and got a prime view of everything except the sushi bar, which seemed like it was almost a city block away, physically closer to the new Taylor Gourmet Deli than to where I was sitting.

To get a good feel for Kushi, I decided I'd order "cheap and deep," coursing out my dinner over an extended period of time. Along with the formal menu, each party receives a paper copy (along with a pencil) where you mark your order for the server, just like you do at many a sushi bar.

Course One

From the "Nigiri or Sashimi" section: Tamago Nigiri ($4) - sweet egg omelet

From the "Kobachi" section: Dashimaki Tamago ($3) - dashi omelette; Furofuki Daikon ($3) - daikon simmered in dashi

I ordered both egg dishes to see if they use the exact same egg (which I suspect they do, but my Nigiri never arrived, so I can't be sure). The Furofuki Daikon was the better dish here, both two-bite wedges covered with a different sauce. At this point, my server (very friendly, and very busy) told me that if I wanted, I could order everything at once; I told him I was going to take my time and eat slowly, and that was okay with him. I recommend to all diners that they order like I did to avoid having everything arriving on top of each other (I blame Cork for popularizing this odious trend, incidentally). If you do this, they'll simply circle each item you order, and hand you back the paper menu for future courses.

Course Two

From the "Nigiri or Sashimi" section: Mirugai Sashimi ($8) - geoduck; Aji Sashimi ($8) - horse mackerel

From the "Gohan" menu: Onigiri ($3) - daily rice ball

An awful course all the way around, with the sashimi plate featuring expensive, skimpy portions of mirugai and aji, sliced only half as thick as they should have been (I'm no fan of Godzilla-sized sashimi, but these cuts were just chintzy). I consider myself something of an expert in rice balls, believe it or not, and this version was quite poor, the rice itself unimpressive and pressed too tightly, and the stuffing - once I was able to find it - nothing more than the most boring, flavorless salmon (poached, I believe) I've had in ages. While the sashimi seemed fresh enough, these three items do not bode well for either the sashimi or the rice that they're serving. I should add that when my bill arrived, my server had comped one of the orders of sashimi - I mentioned this to him, and he said "it's on me." I was not recognized; it was merely a fine example of customer service, him compensating for what he perceived to be service issues (I think it was unnecessary for him to have done this, but nevertheless I thanked him, accepted, and tipped well.)

Course Three

From the "Kushiyaki" section: Kashiwa ($4) - chicken thigh (with salt); Kawa ($4) - crispy chicken skin (with sauce)

From the "Robata" section: Japanese Eggplant ($3); Eringi Mushroom ($6)

Although Kushi advertises "Heritage Breed Chicken," both of these skewers were unexciting and bordering on bland. The two vegetables were highlights, however, and I recommend both of them to diners (do not hesitate to spring for the eringi even though it seems expensive at $6 - you get four large stalks which complement anything grilled that you could possibly order. They retain their heat (as does the eggplant), and will last you several courses if you pace yourself.)

My initial impression of Kushi is that it's something of a cross between Brasserie Beck (which I like very much) and Ping Pong Dim Sum. They're going for big crowds, and last Thursday night, they got them. For my meal, Kushi went long on vegetables, and short on protein, and that's exactly how diners should consider ordering. I also recommend either of the two beers by Echigo, which can carry you through your entire meal (I mentioned the Echigo Stout in an earlier Sushi Taro posting here).

Cheers,

Rocks.

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Rocks presents Kushi pretty fairly actually. While I don't think it's ordinarily fair to bash a restaurant in its first week, they do have some system flaws that I assume will continue. Most notably, the sushi bar is not acceptable to my standards. We did order the Chef's Choice ($40, 12 sushi) and were sorry we did so. Sure, the fatty tuna was nice and luscious, and the uni tasty. Liked the fresh wasabi. The rice is pedestrian. The ama ebi, slimey and sour.

As to the system flaws: we had dined at a table, and I walked by the sushi bar on the way out. Many of their sushi had been pre-sliced, which is not acceptable. That practice increases the surface area of the fish, which is why my tuna, salmon, and flounder were all somewhat dried out. Rocks, was your sashimi actually sliced sashimi-style? I wouldn't be surprised if these pre-cut fish doubled for their sushi and sashimi. We will try Sushi Taro next for our fish fix.

I might as well round out my experience:

Buta Bara pork belly, one salt, one with sauce ($4.50 each): ho hum, neither version had any sort of carmelization. I prefer Mazu's grill, at 11th and New York.

Gindara (miso cod, $11): not bad

Oshinko ($3.50), Tako Sumiso ($7), Gomaae green bean ($4)

Hita Nest Red Rice Ale ($8) tasty

Agree with Rocks, this is a fun place for larger groups. I hear they will have a late-night menu down the road, and will be open until 3am. I will return to give the grill another chance, but the sushi bar was bitterly disappointing.

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The above review did come on a Saturday night (although we got there just as they opened, and the place never got more than 1/3rd occupied). Although I don't accept pre-sliced sushi, I acknowledge the volume crowds who want their meals in a decent time-frame. And, as a cocktail enthusiast, I have begrudgingly accepted the practice of pre-juicing the citrus at most bars in order to meet volume demand.

So, after last night at the Columbia Room and a bit hungry from all of the vermouths we had been exploring, I walked over to Kushi to give them a fair shake. After all, I don't normally go boozing on the weekends (unless I'm with my wife at Central for dinner), and generally target Monday thru Wednesday nights for my outings, sitting at the bar on these slower nights. Under those favorable conditions I've evaluated most of my dining and cocktail spots.

And that's the impetus for my return visit: I would be an out-and-out hypocrite if I judged these guys on different standards. A hypocrite whose words could not be trusted. A hypocrite whose name would conjure ridicule. Yes, I'd be a hypocrite whose mouth should be regarded lower than those unflossed. With that in mind, I sat at the sushi bar.

It was not that busy at 9:30 when I ordered: tuna ($6), flounder ($5), fluke fin($6), and yellowtail ($7). Eggplant ($3) and pork belly ($4.50, with sauce) from the grill, and opted for a Echigo stout ($9).

The food was much better this time around, to Kushi's credit. The rice had a better texture to it this time. The nigiri was cut generously, and everything was extremely fresh. I particularly liked the fluke fin, in my mind the hanger steak of sushi. Yet the execution was still uneven; fresh wasabi was applied to my flounder with a heavy finger, and I choked on the surprise assault.

The pork belly was also much better this time. They had grilled it enough where it was actually served hot, and it had carmelized nicely. I was not so impressed with the eggplant as much, as the skin had been grilled to the point that it tasted like resin. But the flesh was very nice, almost like a grilled banana.

At this point, I felt more confident about the ingredients being used, their skill, and the overall food safety awareness of the crew. (Hate to put it that way, but the ama ebi really was that awful last time). Time to take it to the next level, and to invite the sushi chef's artistry. I ordered the chirashi ($20), hoping for beauty. With this dish, sushi chefs have an unfair advantage over other chefs. There's just so many fresh, vibrant colors that they can play with, on one single plate. Soon, my order arrived.

And that's where the festive carnival music stopped. Chirashi translates to "scattered sushi", and that's how the presentation struck me. Sure, the fish was still very fresh. But the variety was skimpy (I counted about 7), whereas I've experienced upwards of 20 different flavors before.

Chirashi is one that begs the sushi chef to express his personal soul; instead, I felt that this chirashi was designed by the head chef, and that either 1) each sushi chef had no discretion to alter the presentation, or 2) my particular sushi chef really didn't care to riff on a classic. The cuts looked more like nigiri than for chirashi, the arrangment wasn't particularly interesting . . . keep in mind, it was delicious, just not visually inspiring. Perhaps it's not fair for me to call out the sushi chef like this, but those are my expectations when I do sushi, and Kushi is certainly priced similarly to the excellent sushi bars I know.

So: Kushi performed much better in my second visit. I do have a bias to great sushi, and I'm used to going to places where there is a head sushi chef (oftentimes the owner) that can really wow your socks off. This isn't that sort of place, and I didn't see a head sushi chef that night (that bar seems pretty egalitarian). It was suggested to me that Kushi is no more interesting than Asia 9. I don't think I would go that far. The bottom line, I'd follow Rock's ordering strategy above, and also catch them on a slower night for sushi bar stuff. Your mileage may vary.

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i was so excited when i heard this place was opening. couldn't wait to go. wanted so badly for it to be good -- it is exactly what's missing in my rotation. here's what i found:

the food is similar to what you'd find in a japanese izakaya (at least the yakitori and sushi bits). there's a lot missing from the menu (no curries for example). the food is not really comparable in terms of quality, would probably make the bottom 25% of izakayas in tokyo. it's basically "ok", and potentially satisfying if you are jonesing for that type of food.

the space is nice. there were a lot of people showing off fancy haircuts and clothing.

but it's ridiculously expensive for what it is. dinner for 5 (beer only) came to well over $550, with only a couple of sushi orders . i don't care how organic-and-locally-raised the chicken is, when it's $5 per small stick it better be the most delicious chicken i've ever tasted. it's definitely not that. you can save money with a prix fixe at any of the top restaurants in town. at that level, kushi simply cannot compete.

i would go here all the time if the prices were about a third of what they are, but they're not, so I can't see it being worth it.

not going back unless it's on an expense account.

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Count me as a fan after a great first experience last night at the large bar in front of the grills. The chef's choice sushi was all very fresh, the portions (with the exception of a massive cut of buttery toro, which I won't complain about) modest, but not skimpy. The highlights for me, though, came from the grill. I gravitated to items I wouldn't normally be able to try elsewhere, and was handsomely rewarded. An order of baby conch with plum shiso butter brought out 4 small conch shells stuffed with delicious meat in a buttery broth. The baby conch was very tender. Next up were skewers of chicken liver, pork belly, and finally chicken skin -- my dessert :lol: -- all excellent, particularly the pork and the chicken skins. The pork belly presented a nice contrast between a sweet, crisp, caramelized exterior and the moist fatty flesh inside, and the chicken skins were also very nicely crisped on the grill. None of the prep issues identified upthread emerged at all. Both also benefited from the accompanying shishito pepper blend (ask for it if you're not given it with your grilled items) more than the liver.

Midway through my meal four Japanese business people took the corner of the bar to my left, and were soon each presented with a small white dish by the chef. I'd been chatting with him earlier about my selection, and he approached me, tentatively, with a fifth dish. "Squid liver...very fishy...you can try if you are sure" Am I sure? Hell yea I'm sure. (Plus, who knew that squid have livers?). It was very, very fishy...in a very, very good way. I'm glad I tried it.

Service was very good, and very friendly. Also noteworthy - I ordered all of my dishes at once, but asked to be served the sushi as a first course. My waiter took my cue and paced everything perfectly, and nothing arrived on top of anything else.

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The food was much better this time around, to Kushi's credit. The rice had a better texture to it this time. The nigiri was cut generously, and everything was extremely fresh.

Two days ago, a respected friend told me he just got back from Kushi, and that the sushi was the best in town right now. This didn't mesh with my previous experience which (it needs to be emphasized) happened right after they opened. So I decided to see for myself.

I started my meal with a Coedo Blue ($10), one of three Coedo beers they had as daily specials. This was the least expensive of the three, and was a great (and ever-dwindling) example of a beer where you can actually taste malt instead of intrusive hops.

For my first sushi order, I got Engawa ($6), Madai ($7), Ika ($6), and Anago ($9). The plate was simply but beautifully presented, and the engawa and madai in particular were incredible, as good as any I've had in DC. The "rice problem" I encountered on my first visit has obviously been fixed - the sushi rice was excellent, and I was impressed enough by this plate to go a little deeper.

I ordered a plate of Chutoro (market price, which was $12), and based on my first course, my friend's glowing recommendation of it, and what I saw being prepared, I knew before it came it would be great, and it was. So good, in fact, that I decided to keep going.

Next up was Otoro (market price, $15), distinctly different than the chu-toro, as it was striated with alternating layers of meat and pure fat. This was not marbled like many versions that you see, and I actually had a slight preference for the chu-toro. The masterful sushi chef didn't even bother serving wasabi with this plate.

I wanted to end the meal at this point, but I was already here, and didn't know when I could get back, so I did a 180 and ordered an Echigo Stout ($9), and two maki: A Yellowtail and Scallion ($7), and a Fatty Tuna and Pickled Daikon ($10). The maki were perfectly assembled (by the very competent gentleman working right in front of me), but the pre-cut fish just wasn't in the same league as what I'd found in the nigiri, and so, indeed, I should have stopped after the o-toro.

Kushi is taking its sushi very seriously right now, having four sushi chefs, at least two of whom are otherworldly. Do they have the A Team in right now? I don't know, but just as I had fears about Againn putting on a full-court press, so it is with Kushi. I do hope that this outstanding sushi that they're currently offering remains at the same high level six months from now.

Next up were skewers of chicken liver, pork belly, and finally chicken skin -- my dessert :lol: -- all excellent, particularly the pork and the chicken skins. The pork belly presented a nice contrast between a sweet, crisp, caramelized exterior and the moist fatty flesh inside, and the chicken skins were also very nicely crisped on the grill.

I've heard that several of the robata items are cooked sous vide, then finished on the grill, the pork belly being one of them (also that the chicken skins are fried).

i would go here all the time if the prices were about a third of what they are, but they're not, so I can't see it being worth it.

not going back unless it's on an expense account.

Kushi can sneak up on you for sure - my dinner quickly evolved into a three-digit affair (through nobody's fault but my own).

Cheers,

Rocks

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I've heard that several of the robata items are cooked sous vide, then finished on the grill, the pork belly being one of them (also that the chicken skins are fried).

I might be mistaken, but I think I saw the skewer of chicken skins go from the small grill they have in the back of that area onto my plate. I'll be back soon to try them again and will pay more attention. :lol:

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Kushi is taking its sushi very seriously right now, having four sushi chefs, at least two of whom are otherworldly. Do they have the A Team in right now? I don't know, but just as I had fears about Againn putting on a full-court press, so it is with Kushi. I do hope that this outstanding sushi that they're currently offering remains at the same high level six months from now.

I've heard that several of the robata items are cooked sous vide, then finished on the grill, the pork belly being one of them (also that the chicken skins are fried).

It's pretty obvious that there are two levels of sushi here, which I don't think is totally uncommon. The more popular items are pre-cut, such as the specials and the pieces that go into the maki. Then there are the items they fly in from Japan. The better, pricier, less popular items are treated with far more care than the others.

Yes, some of the robata items are cooked sous vide. The machine is on the left rear counter when you come in through the doors. Says vacuum on it. You can see them slicing open sous vide bags. I just don't understand how items that appear to be long marinated do not really taste that way, which is kind of a disappointment.

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I ordered a plate of Chutoro (market price, which was $12), and based on my first course, my friend's glowing recommendation of it, and what I saw being prepared, I knew before it came it would be great, and it was. So good, in fact, that I decided to keep going.

Chef's Sashimi plate is no bargain, but based on the quality of the fish, it is also not outrageously priced at $35, with one exception the fish was impeccably fresh and well cut. The only pieces I really did not care for were the Chutoro, I found that they were far too fatty to be served completely raw as the fat coated the palate and muted any flavor of the fish. When I have had similar meat in Japan they have always been slightly gilled or blanched to "wake-up" the fat - that would have done this fish great justice.

Next up were skewers of chicken liver ... -- all excellent, particularly the pork and the chicken skins.

Maybe I ordered wrong, but the chicken thigh(Kashiwa) and liver were far from excellent. The thigh has the most potential, and had it been served simply with sea salt and a side of lemon it would have been a hit, however, the yakitori sauce had no flavor at all, and just created a messy plate, however, that was far better than the chicken livers that sat next to it. The chicken livers are a great reminder of why most people turn their nose up at what can be a great gateway to an offal addiction, like veal or lamb liver, chicken livers become all but inedible once cooked past medium, what Kushi served to me were sad well done pieces of bone dry nastiness (and again the yakitori sauce was only visible to the eye).

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Maybe I ordered wrong, but the chicken thigh(Kashiwa) and liver were far from excellent. The thigh has the most potential, and had it been served simply with sea salt and a side of lemon it would have been a hit, however, the yakitori sauce had no flavor at all, and just created a messy plate, however, that was far better than the chicken livers that sat next to it. The chicken livers are a great reminder of why most people turn their nose up at what can be a great gateway to an offal addiction, like veal or lamb liver, chicken livers become all but inedible once cooked past medium, what Kushi served to me were sad well done pieces of bone dry nastiness (and again the yakitori sauce was only visible to the eye).

The chicken livers I got Monday night were cooked past medium, but not nearly to the extent you describe. They remained somewhat moist on the inside, though they definitely could have been moister. Repeated brushings of the sauce while they were grilling left them with a nice caramelized sweet/salty crust on the outside. Overall, not bad, but as I mentioned they didn't turn out as well (for me at least) as the chicken skins and pork belly. It sounds like people are getting a lot of inconsistent experiences at Kushi.

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Very self indulgent lunch inspired by the living social coupon I bought.

The amazing:

Sashimi Chef's Selection 7 kinds 2 pieces each $35 at lunch

6 of the 7 items were simply perfection. The toro was farm raised in Spain and it has a steak like marbling and wonderful taste and toothy and not membranous texture. Not sure of the sustainability of farm raised bluefin, but it is reported to be improving greatly over time. It is a blue water farm which makes for a lot less environmental damage, the issue really being how much wild tuna theyy capture to breed a given number of big fish. I forgot to tell them I don't eat bluefin so I did eat it. Engawa {NC Fluke fin} was superb. On both of these fish, I got 3 pieces instead of the promised two. Live Scallop was brilliant with the rubber band like whatever it is being included and quite delicious. I got three of the bands, a good thing. Ama Ebi, raw shrimp, were small, perfect with the rich, sweet sliminess of great shrimp. Mackeral was brilliant: fishy without being overly so. Great. Yellow tail belly was more fat than flavor but I am quibbling. The other thing of note was that each piece of fish was cut at a different angle, with a different exposure of the grain for perfect texture. I have not seen attention to detail on the cutting since I was in LA at nameless sushi bars where I was the only non Asian ever in the place!

Fresh Wasabi without having to ask or pay extra

Yamadanishiki Sake was brilliant for $18. Rich, broad on the palate yet not to heavy for our unusually summerlike day.

The almost amazing:

North Carolina Fluke was amazing in flavor but the cut was way to thick. Hirame usually is sliced paper thin and usually on a chef's combo sashimi plate it is rolled into a flower like presentation and sprinkled with ponzu. Here it was two slabs. Too thick and chewy but worth the jaw work for the flavor.

OK

Salmon skin roll witout comment except that the salmon skin was chewy and lacked oil.

The bland and boring

All 4 of my kushiyaki items were totally forgettable. Pork rib was one tiny rib for $4.50 which makes a slab of nothing special and totally flavorless baby back ribs sell for almost $70! The chicken with spicy cod row was bland, overcooked and the mentaiko was flavorless as well. The chicken skin was not crispy and again lacked flavor. The shishito peppers were scorched and lacked the melting texture that careful cooking produces. Each skewer was unsalted at one end and almost inedibly salted at the other. I think that this might have been a case of folk not watching what they were doing in the lazy end to lunch when much prepping was going on, but the skewers were a total waste. I might go back and try some more but keep the orders light until I see improvement.

The bill, with tip, came to $100 which is high for what I got. I left hungry and ate a Taylor's pork and broccoli raab sandwich after.

When I am feeling flush, Kay and I will be back for a sushi/sashimi blowout and we will be prepared to drop $200/300 or more and I bet it will be well worth it. I hope that my grill experience was just a fluke. I would hake to see them flounder on this part of the menu. As Ahnold would say.... "Eel be Bach!"

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When I am feeling flush, Kay and I will be back for a sushi/sashimi blowout and we will be prepared to drop $200/300 or more and I bet it will be well worth it. I hope that my grill experience was just a fluke. I would hake to see them flounder on this part of the menu. As Ahnold would say.... "Eel be Bach!"

Chef and I dined here Wednesday night - we sampled extensively from every part of the menu, spent about double what Dean did, and left in no position to eat a sub (very impressed with that!).

I generally agree with Dean's evaluation. The nigri was superb - among the best I have ever had in DC. I would order the kushiyaki pork belly again, ant the duck leg robata, a healthy leg for $9, was a relative bargain. I suspect I will find myself here quite often - mostly for the sushi and sashimi.

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My husband and I ate at Kushi last night for the first time, thanks to a living social coupon. We arrived without a reservation at around 9:00 and were promptly seated at the grill bar. We focused solely on the grilled items, since this type of cuisine is relatively new in DC. Unlike others who have commented here, we had a really good experience -- I agree with Dean that the chicken with mentaiko was nothing special -- 3 large chunks of white meat with a tiny smudge of mentaiko on top. But the chicken was moist and cooked perfectly, and the mentaiko, what little there was, had good flavor. The stars of the evening were the fiddlehead ferns with sesame dressing, duck leg, quail stuffed with duck sausage, the grilled eggplant, pork belly with salt and with tare, and chicken meatballs -- very moist and well seasoned. The shishito pepper stuffed with pork was the last item we ordered, and it was the perfect ending -- two small peppers with a small ball of pork in the middle -- just a bite each, but perfect to end the savory part of the meal. The ice creams for dessert were amazing -- valrhona dark chocolate for $5, and ginger for $2.50. We wanted to try the sea salt ice cream as well, but there were out of it. We were quite full and very satisfied. We had the ice dome sake -- very nice refreshing cold sake from Hokkaido. We look forward to going back.

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Kushi is taking its sushi very seriously right now, having four sushi chefs, at least two of whom are otherworldly.

Tonight I sat at the sushi bar and had a nice dinner. Two of the sushi chefs had their initials embroidered on their jackets (the juniors did not), and they prepared my sashimi and sushi. I enjoyed a solidly delicious chef's choice of sashimi, followed by several nigiri orders.

The fish sourcing is what impresses me most at Kushi. Just like last time, everything was very fresh and delicious.

Outside the beauty of the sourced fish, execution did not strike me as otherworldly. The sashimi was picturesque. The nigiri was arranged nicely. But the tamago there tells the tale: a couple layers of the omelet had been burned dark brown, and there were several pockets of airs where the omelet hadn't been flipped properly.

I'll return to order and enjoy specific dishes from specific chefs. I won't expect having a transcendent experience (a bit disappointed it didn't happen tonight), though, and I'll expect to pay a premium for the sushi fix.

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At just a little more than $3 a piece, the chef’s choice sushi platter is a pretty good deal. The lunch portion consists of 9 pieces of sushi and 2 pieces of tamago – mine had none of the issues that DaRiv18 witnessed. The rice is easily some of the best around and was portioned perfectly for each piece. The only issues I had were with a less than ideal uni, and a piece of sea eel (anago) that tasted like it had been given the same treatment as the chicken liver I had on my last visit. I also decided to give their rolls a try and was quite happy with the eel and avocado roll.

As time goes by the one thing that I can see annoying me about Kushi is the lack of a fresh list and the less than inspiring selection of non-vegetarian rolls – the vegetarian rolls appear to be very creative, I would like to see some of that with the fish.

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I had loaded up on multiple Living Social vouchers for Kushi, thinking that I could redeem several simultaneously on any given (pricey) visit. I was wrong, it's just one per. So, I swung by again today for a quick lunch, mindful of Rock's caveat that this may be the A team showing.

I got the chef's choice sushi (Sthitch is right, it is a reasonably priced dish). Again, my tamago was average with burns and holes.

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I've always been told that professional sushi chefs hang their hats on their tamago skills. Here is a great video of making one , and in the last 40 seconds of the video you can see a smooth, flawless, trophy omelette.

Since this is my last post on sushi bar observations (you don't really believe that, do you?), I felt my kappa and kampyo rolls were well constructed (sometimes the rice is packed too firm), but I'm used to several shakes of sesame seeds in those maki. Sthitch finds their (veggie) makis to be "very creative"; I'd say "rebellious", based on the shiitake mushroom roll on the menu (I've heard several Japanese sushi chefs disavow that ingredient for their craft).

But hey -- again, lunch was delicious, as it had been the previous two times. I just don't buy that this is world-class. Rocks thinks that you should go now lest the A team pulls a Peter Chang, and maybe he's right. My call is that the excellent sourcing of the fish will probably remain constant, the chefs are solid but not irreplaceable, and if you're happy with the offerings now then you'll probably be happy with the offerings later. Your mileage will probably vary.

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Sthitch finds their (veggie) makis to be "very creative"; I'd say "rebellious", based on the shiitake mushroom roll on the menu (I've heard several Japanese sushi chefs disavow that ingredient for their craft).

In Japan, Izakayas almost always offer sashimi, but it would be rebellious for them to serve sushi :lol:

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Wow. I'm suffering from a bit of writer's block right now, but the blowout dinner that I had here with my wife the other night so far exceeded our expectations that I didn't mind the $200 bill at the end of it at all. The highlights were the chutoro, otoro, uni, flounder, fluke, and well just about everything we had right up to the peppercorn pineapple sorbet. I haven't been to Sushi Taro since the renovation, but I don't think there's a sushi place in town right now that has served me a better all around meal (Kaz when he had the Kindai was close, but not as consistent).

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Stuck to the specials tonight and was so not disappointed. The snapper (so good as nigiri we got an extra order as sashimi), chu-toro sashimi special, and maguro temaki were good enough that I would go back knowing I could get them (a toss-up given that two of the three were specials). However, due to a bit of a service snafu we didn't get our seared beef and scallion temaki in time, so we got a free pork belly and watercress temaki. These were dueling hand rolls and almost stunningly flavorful, with the pork having a slight edge over the beef; the rice was good, neither too vinegared nor with an edge of formed-in-advance staleness; and I honestly want to eat both of them again, right now, despite the fact that -- as much as I am a bottomless pit when it comes to awesome sushi -- I am so stuffed.

Rocks talked about mushrooms earlier, but I have to say that the grilled maitake and eringi, with an extra dish of the grilled Japanese eggplant, were outstanding tonight, and a fantastic value for the money -- these were huge as small plates go, and personally I could eat mushrooms every meal of my life and be happy, so it was a win-win. The maitake might have been my favorite: woodsy without being woody, earthy without tasting dirty, and enhanced by a brief dip in soy, they were both comforting and exciting. The grilled squid was also actually a massive plate of food, but the squid had both a lovely char and a great marinade. This dish is honestly too much squid at a time, even if you're sharing it, but the flavor and technique are there, so it's not a bad option, particularly if you're hungry.

I tried a cucumber "saketini" that I asked to be made on the not-sweet side. Most of the summer cocktails include a distinct sugar component, which is just not my thing -- I want my drink to have a bite and not be a dessert in itself. The bar obligingly made this sans sugar and it was so nice with the sushi parts of the meal. I forgot to specify gin instead of vodka so it wasn't entirely what I wanted, but still, it more than held up.

(The women sitting next to us were discussing the menu and one of them told her companion, "Well, you know I don't eat fish." Honestly, not that I would try to convert an anti-fish-eater via raw fish, but -- really? Then again, someone didn't snatch the chu-toro special out from under me, so I guess I'm thankful for small favors. :))

Oh -- I should note that I did this with the LivingSocial coupon ($25 for $50 of food and drink). I'd paid my $25 long ago so that was a sunk cost, and I tipped on the full bill plus the comped temaki that was totally unnecessary -- I expect things that are being run among a sushi bar, robata grill, and kushiyaki station to come at different times -- but even so, the full price was actually more than reasonable for the sheer amount of food. The staff were completely gracious about the coupon. If this is what Kushi is putting out on a Saturday night (they were packed to the gills [pun intended] by the time we left a little past 9), then I wish them all the good will in the world, and intend to go back if possible for a maki or two and some grilled eggplant at the very least.

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