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Sei, Upscale, Modern, Chic Sushi Lounge at 444 7th Street (Nice Address!) in Penn Quarter

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This is an exciting addition to the Penn Quarter restaurant scene. I look forward to checking it out - probably once they start lunch service.

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Has there been a post about this place? I think I read somewhere it's the same people from Oya. Here's what I got from OpenTable

Modern Asian cuisine from award winning Sushi Master Noriaki Yasutake and Chef Avinesh Ranav The intimate space, located next to the Landsburgh Theatre, features seating for 50, sushi bar seating 12 and a cozy lounge area. Yasutake & Ranav offers their modern spin on traditional sushi,specialty rolls and Asian fare. An extensive half bottle sake list has been specially selected by sommelier Andrew Stover.

*edit* I just found this. http://www.washingtonpost.com/gog/restaura...ei,1155087.html

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I went on Saturday night (on a verrrry bad date). The rolls were inventive and very very good, as was the small plate of Yuzu- chicken. The managers sent over an amuse-bouche that I couldn't have due to an allergy but my date seemed to enjoy it. The service was good, and my server was very attentive to my allergies (soy and sesame- difficult in a sushi place). Also had the apple blossom cocktail which was to die for. Very reminiscent of Oya. Cool interior and every table was taken but hardly seemed "crowded"- I think this was due to the smooth service. Highly recommended.

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yesterday a friend and i went to sei for dinner, because we were in chinatown and i had read the write-up on it in the washington post food section last wednesday. i have to say, it was excellent. when i went i was hoping for specialty rolls which were not your standard one-fish roll (tuna roll, eel roll, cucumber roll, etc). we were not sure what to get at first because the menu options seemed to have very weird combinations of ingredients, some of which were pretty foreign to us. the place was filled, so we sat the sushi bar, and to whet our appetite we shared the shrimp nigiri (topped with sake jelly). this was a pleasant surprise. the sushi chef noted that we were new, and asked if we would let him prepare an assortment for us, a sort of omakase, which they offer but was not on the menu. not knowing what we felt like, we agreed.

and it was a great decision. it included the snow white roll, their fish and chips roll, a variety of nigiri and sashimi, all presented beautifully. all i have to say is everything was excellent, and it gave me full confidence that the rest of the menu will be tasty as well. i fully intend on returning, and recommend this omakase to anyone who goes.

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went there tonight for the first time. the asian pear sangria was excellent. they also had a drink that sounded pretty interesting, the liquid wasabi, but i didn't get it this time. we tried the fish and chips roll, crunchy shrimp roll, and some kind of kobe beef roll. we also had the pork buns and the kobe beef sliders. everything was pretty good. their menu is half sushi and half small plates. the decor reminded me of oya but it was much more intimite because of the lower ceilings. it's a really good date restaurant. it also seems like a good place to grab a drink and a small bite. if you want traditional sushi, then this probably isn't the place. but if you are looking to try something new or different, this is a fun place to do it.

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went there tonight for the first time. the asian pear sangria was excellent. they also had a drink that sounded pretty interesting, the liquid wasabi, but i didn't get it this time. we tried the fish and chips roll, crunchy shrimp roll, and some kind of kobe beef roll. we also had the pork buns and the kobe beef sliders. everything was pretty good. their menu is half sushi and half small plates. the decor reminded me of oya but it was much more intimite because of the lower ceilings. it's a really good date restaurant. it also seems like a good place to grab a drink and a small bite. if you want traditional sushi, then this probably isn't the place. but if you are looking to try something new or different, this is a fun place to do it.

What is the price like? I like Oya but find the special deal they are always running (something like $30 for 3-courses) is usually the best value.

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What is the price like? I like Oya but find the special deal they are always running (something like $30 for 3-courses) is usually the best value.
I went to lunch last week at Sei, and can say it is the most expensive lunch I have had in Washington in a long time. The three of us spent $120 (inc. tax and tip) for the following:

2 orders of shumai (4 per order) (engh) (I think each order was $9)

1 order of edamame

3 orders of fish and chip sushi (really good)

2 California rolls (not my choice but at least they used real crab)

1 shrimp tempura roll (tough shrimp)

1 green tea creme brulee

3 hot teas

I normally go to Kaz for sushi and have never managed to spend $40 per person at lunch and generally we get 2-3 rolls each at lunch at Kaz.

Sei is not on my list for a return because I thought the sparkle out shined the food. However, for a late night date place it could be a great option...

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I went to lunch last week at Sei, and can say it is the most expensive lunch I have had in Washington in a long time.

I went the first week they were open, got three rolls and two orders of sake, and my bill with tax and tip was $83. I knew what I was doing when I ordered, but still, when that bill arrived I was like ... damn! This was shortly before inauguration, so I'm not sure if the prices were inflated or not.

Yasutake is an excellent sushi chef in the modern style (click here for my impressions from three years ago), and is respected by his peers.

To me, Sei feels like they picked up Oya with a helicopter, flew it a couple of blocks to the southeast, and plunked it down next to Jaleo. One icy-white restaurant in that area is interesting; two, less so.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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I wish their menu is posted on the website. The site has been up, but its nothing more than just an announcement that they are now open.

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I went the first week they were open, got three rolls and two orders of sake, and my bill with tax and tip was $83. I knew what I was doing when I ordered, but still, when that bill arrived I was like ... damn! This was shortly before inauguration, so I'm not sure if the prices were inflated or not.

The prices hadn't come down when I was in two weeks ago. A cocktail, two rolls, and a beer were about $65. I really liked the food, but the price was out of line. If ever there were a place in need of a half-priced sishi night (a la the old Signatures, which served a very similar style of sushi), it's this one.

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The prices hadn't come down when I was in two weeks ago. A cocktail, two rolls, and a beer were about $65.

How does that break down? How much is the beer, cocktail, and rolls?

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I went ten days ago... As I recall, cocktails were about $12 a pop, rolls ranged from ~$6 for the spicy tuna / california rolls of the world, up to ~$12 for the fish and chips, maybe as high as $15 for the top end, larger ones. Oh, and I had a "Samurai" beer for $8. The Sake menu was extensive and the prices were all over, depending on the bottle size and quality.

One thing that jumped out at me were the kobe sliders -- cooked med-rare, patty just as big as the bun, expensive (can't remember how much, but remember being shocked) and delicious. If you find yourself at the intersection of "deep slider craving" and "price is no object", do check them out.

Alex

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To me, Sei feels like they picked up Oya with a helicopter, flew it a couple of blocks to the southeast, and plunked it down next to Jaleo. One icy-white restaurant in that area is interesting; two, less so.

I don't think it's necessarily fair to bring up Oya when judging Sei. Yes, it is a very similar to Oya with the decor and food. Yes, they are by the same owners. But I still think it should be judged as a separate restaurant.

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I went ten days ago... As I recall, cocktails were about $12 a pop, rolls ranged from ~$6 for the spicy tuna / california rolls of the world, up to ~$12 for the fish and chips, maybe as high as $15 for the top end, larger ones. Oh, and I had a "Samurai" beer for $8. The Sake menu was extensive and the prices were all over, depending on the bottle size and quality.

One thing that jumped out at me were the kobe sliders -- cooked med-rare, patty just as big as the bun, expensive (can't remember how much, but remember being shocked) and delicious. If you find yourself at the intersection of "deep slider craving" and "price is no object", do check them out.

Alex

I think the cheapest rolls on the menu (the spicy tuna et al) were $9. No rolls were $6. It is incredibly expensive for what it is...

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I don't think it's necessarily fair to bring up Oya when judging Sei. Yes, it is a very similar to Oya with the decor and food. Yes, they are by the same owners. But I still think it should be judged as a separate restaurant.

Even if they were not owned by the same owner, I think to Rock's point about the ascetics of the restaurant it is fair to compare them. I did not read him comparing the food to Oya, simply the decor (or lack thereof).

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I went last night and the prices are still in the high range. $80 before tip but with tax for a $28 bottle of sake, fish & chips roll, snow white roll, tuna tartar and pork buns. Highlight unfortunately was the sake. Fish&chips was good, but not great. Couldn't taste the vinegar and the "tartar" sauce was just unnecessary. The snow white roll turned out to be your basic eel and avocado roll with apple on top, which would have been interesting if we could taste the apple. Tuna tartar was a very small portion and nothing to write home about. Pork buns, which the server called pork tacos but were called buns on the menu, were fine, but not worth their price.

The two highlights were from the hostess and someone whom I assume is the manager. The hostess recognized my last name, which is not that common, and asked how my dad was. He was a regular at her last restaurant and although it has been at least four months since she last waited on him, she remembered him. Nice touch. The manager earned brownie points when he noticed that I was upset and trying to not use his cloth napkin to wipe away mascara soaked tears. Within a moment an elegant paper napkin discreetly appeared at the table and just as discreetly taken away later in the meal. Again, nice touch.

While the food was good, the up selling the server kept trying will keep me from returning. After explaining the menu to us, before we had a chance to look it over, the server asked if he should bring over the wasabi guacamole. We had not expressed any interest in the dish. While going over the menu with us, each of his "favorites" were the most expensive items in the section. Later in the meal he tried to bring us edemame, again without us expressing interest. Finally, twice we were asked if we wanted another bottle of sake. In this economy, with the prices the restaurant is charging for average sushi, this practice is not going to serve them well. I don't place all of the blame on the server, I assume he was just following orders. But those in charge may want to rethink those orders. It's already lost them two customers, one of whom works in the area and was looking for a new place for their business lunches.

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HI All:

I dined at Sei yesterday for lunch and my dish was fantastic as was my husband's. We liked the OYA-like Asian bondage theme they've got going on.

I had sake cured cod which was served with asparagus. Hubby had rice bowl. We ended with the chocolate lava cake with a sake ice on top. Again, all tasted fantastic but my plate was TINY! I could have had two.

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Half empty dining room at lunch but it still took quite some time to get the following (but worth the wait for item #3 alone)

- wasabi guac $9 - they give you extra wasabi as you won't taste it much in the little scoop with funky prawn crisps (?) they give you to dip it with.

- miso soup $5

- sake cured cod $15 Perhaps the best bit (and I mean bit) of cod I've ever tasted. The manager tells me they spend a lot of effort on it and use a sake extract that comes from the distillation process (aka don't try this at home and expect similar results). Astonishingly good. Comes on a base of sorrel-soup like puree that balances textures and flavors with fish very well.

- dengaku salmon$13 You feel sorry for the poor bastard fish that has to compete with the above. Meh.

- fish & chips roll $10 - cute concept - very fresh taste. Quite liked the ersatz tartar sauce too.

- snow white roll $12 - eel roll with apple. Agree that apple could have been more pronounced

- toro sashimi $9 sort of staid back-to-basics after all the flash and bang above

- salmon aburi $7 can't even remember this one

- demon slayer sake $14 for a 12oz bottle that our waitron was kind enough to warm for us - it was a cold and rainy day and hot sake seemed to be in order although I felt awfully gauche doing so.

Said waitron was stunningly beautiful which made one wish she were not one of these consumate pros who quietly present food, clear the table, take care of all details with you barely registering her presence.

Total $93 and tax of 9:30 with tip all comes to $122.30 for lunch for two.

We went across the street to tangysweet for pomegranite yogurt for desert. Wish I had stayed in the confines of the Milk Bar from Clockwork Orange themed decor and out of the soggy downtown Monday. Magical space - a sleek little temple to clever cooking and good service.

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If you do go during the remainder of their restaurant month, please choose wiser options than me. I think I just overdosed on fish by going all nigiri and rolls, while not venturing toward things like their chicken or wasabi guac. For $35.09, the entree came out to $17, and the dessert and appetizer was $18. The lunch option might be a better deal. The white tuna roll for first dish was really nicely seared. The accompanying mango chutney smear on the bottom was equally flavorful. But even though the pairing tasted well, there was also a richness to it that may be best to be sampled separately.

I must say though, the cherry blossom 3-D effect behind the sushi counter really made me feel I was staring at a Magic Eye book the whole night. I walked out just a tad cross-eyed.

Oh, and $12 for a Hitachino!! Now that's a markup. Guess the prices are still inflated...

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I enjoyed my Sei meal (went when they first opened), but much prefer OYA's sushi + wonderful decor (owned by the same people, and in the same area, why would you go to Sei when there's OYA?.)

Wasabi Guacamoule with fried wonton chips - The wonton chips aren't really that tasty, wouldn't recommend getting.

Fish & Chips roll - This is the stand out item, it was delicious.

Shrimp Tempura roll

Kobe beef roll

Kobe sliders - Definitely not worth getting, just tasted like a hamburger.

Here's a picture I took (shrimp tempura roll + kobe beef roll in the back)

sei5.jpg

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I hated the service at SEI, it really irked me throughout the whole evening.

The food was just okay, but I had been expecting more because it's by the same people as OYA.

Wasabi guac had no taste of wasabi, just avocado; sliders were over-done and greasy with hard buns.

Like I said, everything else was just okay.

We had a Fish and Chips roll, Kobe beef roll, Spicy Salmon Mousse, and Shrimp Tempura roll for the sushi. The kobe beef was very chewy, okay tasting, but nothing special. The spicy salmon was a sushi that I had campaigned for, trying to convince my boyfriend to order it, and I ended up hating it. The mousse itself was very weird tasting–it had a very strong musky taste and I couldn’t eat more than two pieces. Fish and Chips was okay… nothing special (It sounded oh-so special on the menu). Shrimp tempura was over-cooked and dry, but the rice was okay.

Service was ridiculous. Our waitress came by about three times within our first dish arriving, asking us if she could take our soy sauce plates, our napkins, our silverware–she was trying to remove every piece of everything we weren’t using. Also, everytime she came she moved the plates to ‘reorganize’ the table, even if it was a milimeter. Then she disappeared for a while and when our table got cleared, it was like a circus! Three people, from all sides of me were clearing the table–they really wanted us out of there quickly! The thing about service is that you should take it for granted. Excellent service should be seamless and go unnoticed. The fact that I noticed our service was bad means that it was really bad.

Also, I’m a big stickler for ‘owning up’ to the language. If you’re going to claim to be Japanese cuisine and use Japanese ingredients and names, then at least spell the menu correctly. I mean, even my boyfriend noticed it and he’s not even versed in Japanese, let alone Japanese ingredients. They butchered “Chichai Sara” and then spelled ingredients like “daikon” incorrectly. One thing can sum up my experience there: *sigh*.

I had hoped so much for SEI to be good, especially after their abbreviated review in the Post (how the ostrich leather was supposed to muffle the sounds), but it was everything Oya isn’t. The chairs also have the handles on the back, but have laces up them. I liked the wall between the lounge and the dining area that was constructed out of red coral, but when you get close to it, you could see that it was really half-assed and the coral was sticking out all over the place at the top. When I went, you couldn't really see the restaurant from the outside, we had to identify it by the valet sign, but I walked by recently and they seem to have corrected this.

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Also, I’m a big stickler for ‘owning up’ to the language. If you’re going to claim to be Japanese cuisine and use Japanese ingredients and names, then at least spell the menu correctly. I mean, even my boyfriend noticed it and he’s not even versed in Japanese, let alone Japanese ingredients. They butchered “Chichai Sara” and then spelled ingredients like “daikon” incorrectly. One thing can sum up my experience there: *sigh*.

Because this doesn't happen at almost every single Chinese restaurant...

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Also, I’m a big stickler for ‘owning up’ to the language. If you’re going to claim to be Japanese cuisine and use Japanese ingredients and names, then at least spell the menu correctly. I mean, even my boyfriend noticed it and he’s not even versed in Japanese, let alone Japanese ingredients. They butchered “Chichai Sara”<snip>

Perhaps I'm missing something, but "chichai sara" is not incorrect. It's dialectical or slang for "really, really small" (although arguably it could be romanized as "chiichai"). "Chichai" (or chiichai) is a very common word in the Tohoku dialect at least.

I haven't eaten at Sei, but as long as we're poking at language, were the plates indeed "really, really small," or just small? :(

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