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Sushi Taro, Owner Nobu Yamazaki and Chef Masa Kitayama's Superb, Upscale, Japanese in East Dupont Circle


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I went for lunch today (Sushi Day!). The yellowtail was flavorful and buttery. The temaki was amazing, it seemed to surpass the regular rolls. The rice on the nigiri was great and held together very well. I don't know if it was a result of the other people in my party being regulars, but the cuts were on the thicker side. The salmon and the toro were solid. I've had better spider roll elsewhere.

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Based on recommendations from this board in a Help Wanted thread, I went to the omasake counter with my girlfriend last night to celebrate her thirtieth birthday.  I've been to Sushi Capitol and had t

We did the Omakase counter last night and we will be back.  Got there early for the 7pm reservation and was able to miss the rain and grab a cocktail at the bar before being shown back to the Omakase

We picked up sushi from Taro last night and it was fantastic. The process was smooth, with curbside pickup operating with extreme efficiency. And the sushi was phenomenal. From the 'roll' portion of o

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I went for lunch today (Sushi Day!). The yellowtail was flavorful and buttery. The temaki was amazing, it seemed to surpass the regular rolls. The rice on the nigiri was great and held together very well. I don't know if it was a result of the other people in my party being regulars, but the cuts were on the thicker side. The salmon and the toro were solid. I've had better spider roll elsewhere.

I'm sure I posted about this a year or so ago... but I'll say it again: The bento box lunch special at Sushi Taro is a great deal. For just $10, even a ragamuffin sweatpants-wearing unemployed schmo like me got six pieces of nigiri, four pieces of tempura, two gyoza (is that plural?) a sliver of pickled gourd, a mound of pickled peppery sprouts, a ginger salad and a miso soup. Great deal. Now, to be fair, I haven't been back for lunch in about six months (now I work, boo), but I can't imagine the quality has fallen off.

Alex

PS - They aren't open for lunch on the weekends, FYI.

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Can you give a little more detail about the omakase? How much was it? How many courses were there? What was included? Thanks :P

I don't remember the exact $ amount...but it was in the range of $55 to 65. We had started off with grilled kunamoto oysters, sashimi assortment consisting of tuna cheek meat, toro, squid with squid guts, abalone and abalone guts, fatty yellow tail tuna, raw shrimp with scrambled (?) eggs, couple other daily specials, uni imported from japan and fried shrimp heads. We generally don't like to stuff ourselves with rice (more space for sashimi) so we requested that no sushi be served.

The picture attached is what was served for 2 people.

It is not the small course by course offering like Makoto or Kaz, but for those who want to go straight to the fish, it's a good deal!

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Anyone been here recently. I have a hankering for Sushi today. Or is there a better spot near 16th and M.

Thanks

Mark

I think that in the area, it's probably the best. That doesn't say much, because most places aren't all that great. I haven't been to Izakaya in the P St. Whole Foods, which has sushi and a ton of other stuff. In the overall DC scheme, there are better places.

The other day I had octopus sushi that was chewy and inedible. I actually had to spit it out, because I couldn't bite through it. But some tips for ordering there if you do go. If you order lunch specials, the sashimi is a better choice than the sushi, but it's more optimal to pick and choose from the paper. Also don't get the scallop, they don't cut it the optimal way. Rice for the sushi is a little better than for the rolls.

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I'm thinking of going on Friday night to try their omakase at the sushi bar. I called to ask about it ($42/person) and got kind of confusing answers. It seems the latest reservation they take is for 7pm (we'd be looking to show up later) and I when I asked if we'd be able to do omakase at the sushi bar as walk ins, she said she wasn't sure.

What has been other's experiences with going here after 7pm, long waits? How about going for omakase as a walk in?

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FWIW, I have been there at 8pm on a Tues or Weds night and had a super long wait to sit anywhere! It was noisy and crowded - the one time I've had omikase was not at Taro, and I remember part what made the experience so enjoyable was being able to observe and communicate with the chef.

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I was very surprised by the seaweed salad today. Rather than the usual green strings of seaweed there were entire "leaves" in dark greens, light greens and pink with fronds. There was what I think was a little bit of Kewpie mayo and then a slightly sweet vinagrette-y gelatin or agar on top. Pretty good, but maybe too much of the gelatin/agar.

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Five of us did a walk-in omakase at Sushi Taro last night, to celebrate the birthday of my fish-lovin' sister Liz. We put our name on the list at 7 and were told it'd be an hour. We went and had a glass of wine, they called us 40 minutes later and we sat around 745.

The waitress asked if we preferred it on five plates, or would we like "the big one".

Around 75 minutes later, close to 9 PM, with only a miso soup and some edamame to tide us over, they wheel over Noah's Ark. Toro. Octopus. Squid. Salmon. Mackerel topped with ginger. Fat pieces of yellowtail sprinkled with scallion. Frilly sliices of giant clam leaning against crescents of lemon. Alternating slices of scallop and kiwi, strung out in a clam shell. Amberjack with a miso sauce. Raw sweet shrimp, with their heads deep fried (delicious, like a potato chip).

The most visually impressive element were the "masts" - a sardine spine and head, deep fried, hooked around a yakitori skewer at the bow, and a fried mackerel spine and head hooked together on another skewer towards the stern. In front of the masts was the fish itself. The mackerel came chopped raw and mixed, with ginger and a very light sauce (the nice cuts were used in the ginger and scallion-topped sashimi) and the pungent sardine was cut into thin little steaks. They also dropped a softball of real wasabi down.

We finished the boat. It was a Herculean effort, but everything was so good, it just had to get eaten. Afterward, when we were fat and happy, the entire staff of the restaurant (from the GM on down), crowded around our five-top and belted out "Happy Birthday Liz" as loudly and happily as I've ever heard it done in a restaurant. You could tell they were proud of what they'd put out, and excited that someone would give them the chance to put such a thing together. What a fun, fun dinner.

So, if you go, get the big plate.

Alex

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I went to the new Sushi Taro last night. I'm still reeling from what my favorite neighborhood sushi restaurant has turned into -- so sleek, modern and spacious. They have cut the number of tables in half, doubled the prices and added a bar. My father remarked that Sushi Taro had "gone Komi" and, well, there's some truth in that.

They offer two $75 tasting menus and one $65 tasting menu, each featuring a parade of small dishes. I believe that one focuses on sashimi, another sushi and another cooked items, but I am not certain of the breakout. The a la carte menu offers a limited selection of appetizers, nigiri and sashimi, but no maki.

We ordered a variety of items from the a la carte menu, due to time constraints. The tasting menus are clearly the better option. The total cost for 3 of us, including tax/tip/$40 albarino was $250. It was tough to watch the table in front of us open the menu, chat quietly, tell the waitress that it was too expensive and walk out, but I understand. I'll probably need to find a new neighborhood sushi restaurant, too.

Oh, the food was excellent. The grilled arctic char included a cut of fillet and a cut of belly, a nice comparison. Our sashimi came resting resting on banana leaves, over a bowl of ice to keep it cool, and both the toro and the hamachi were as good as I've had. All the presentations were lovely, and the waitstaff (all familiar faces) has clearly undergone extensive training

I was terribly jealous of the plates whizzing by to those who had elected for the tasting menu. I can't wait to try it. I'm just sad that my neighborhood sushi restaurant, my once-a-week fish joint, has turned into a $100-a-pop special occasion place.

They plan to open for lunch on thursday or friday, but I'm bracing myself for a $25 bento box.

Alex

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I went to the new Sushi Taro last night. I'm still reeling from what my favorite neighborhood sushi restaurant has turned into -- so sleek, modern and spacious. They have cut the number of tables in half, doubled the prices and added a bar. My father remarked that Sushi Taro had "gone Komi" and, well, there's some truth in that.

They offer two $75 tasting menus and one $65 tasting menu, each featuring a parade of small dishes. I believe that one focuses on sashimi, another sushi and another cooked items, but I am not certain of the breakout. The a la carte menu offers a limited selection of appetizers, nigiri and sashimi, but no maki.

We ordered a variety of items from the a la carte menu, due to time constraints. The tasting menus are clearly the better option. The total cost for 3 of us, including tax/tip/$40 albarino was $250. It was tough to watch the table in front of us open the menu, chat quietly, tell the waitress that it was too expensive and walk out, but I understand. I'll probably need to find a new neighborhood sushi restaurant, too.

Oh, the food was excellent. The grilled arctic char included a cut of fillet and a cut of belly, a nice comparison. Our sashimi came resting resting on banana leaves, over a bowl of ice to keep it cool, and both the toro and the hamachi were as good as I've had. All the presentations were lovely, and the waitstaff (all familiar faces) has clearly undergone extensive training

I was terribly jealous of the plates whizzing by to those who had elected for the tasting menu. I can't wait to try it. I'm just sad that my neighborhood sushi restaurant, my once-a-week fish joint, has turned into a $100-a-pop special occasion place.

They plan to open for lunch on thursday or friday, but I'm bracing myself for a $25 bento box.

Alex

I am truly hoping that he opens a new version of the old Taro in a new location... The timing of this change is somewhat inexplicable given what's going on with the economy. You would hope that restaurant owners would understand how dire the economic situation is and take things downscale if anything (for their sakes as well as their customers), but then again, it's their prerogative to do whatever they'd like. And you do build a venture like this with the long-term in mind... but I still want the old Sushi Taro (or something like it) back for selfish reasons.

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I am truly hoping that he opens a new version of the old Taro in a new location... The timing of this change is somewhat inexplicable given what's going on with the economy. You would hope that restaurant owners would understand how dire the economic situation is and take things downscale if anything (for their sakes as well as their customers), but then again, it's their prerogative to do whatever they'd like. And you do build a venture like this with the long-term in mind... but I still want the old Sushi Taro (or something like it) back for selfish reasons.

There's a spot on 19th street which would do perfectly! :rolleyes:

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They plan to open for lunch on thursday or friday, but I'm bracing myself for a $25 bento box.

Alex

Any word on lunch options? Website seems to be down. God I loved this place for lunch before they closed!

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They plan to open for lunch on thursday or friday, but I'm bracing myself for a $25 bento box.

Alex

Actually the bento box is $40 :rolleyes: "Seasonal Tenshin Bento (available with advanced order)"

hmmm, mixed bag for lunch - you can still get the daily lunch special for $12 which represents a 20% increase from before but a fairly manageable $2....you can also get Katsu Don and hot and cold noodles for $12

sushi starts at $15 for 6 nigiri plus 1 roll, there are also $25 and $35 sushi options

some (maybe all) dishes now come with a piping hot egg custard soup dotted with some shitakes and a few other buried treats, plus miso soup

room is nicely done....no sushi bar

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Went in for a quick dinner the other week; quick, because my friend had a train to catch. This was poor planning on my part, I confess. We ended up on 17th a little after 5, to notice that they didn't open until 5:30. I say "notice", but what I really mean is that there is no signage of hours at all, and I had to bring up the webpage on my phone. We elected to wait; my friend was craving sushi, and I was curious to see how things had changed.

5:30 came and went with no sign of motion. I called the restaurant. "Hi, when do you open?" "We don't open until 5:30." "Um... what time is it now?" ".. 5:30" "..."

The door eventually opened a few minutes later; I really don't think they expect diners right at 5:30.

The space is lovely, although I am kicking myself for not stopping by when they closed and asking to buy all of the old perforated-metal screens and dividers. Bathrooms are relocated to behind the hostess counter, and it looks like they have a private dining room in what used to be part of the kitchen on the P street side.

Our waitress was a familiar face, and she'd definitely been studying up on the various dishes. I felt somewhat bad for just wanting to look at the menu and not have everything described to me. Also, while I enjoyed talking to her, I was there to talk with my friend, so much of it was lost on me out of impatience.

Clearly, the a-la-carte menu is more of an afterthought; they really really really want you to order the fixed-price menu, and they really really really want you to order alcohol. Unfortunately, my friend does not drink, and I was driving him to the train station, and we did not want the fixed-price menu, nor could we linger for hours.

The biggest loss for me was the seaweed salad; they do not have it. "You can still get edamame!" Well, I could, but I didn't really want edamame... I miss the seaweed salad. On the plus side, refills of soft drinks are now gratis where before they were not.

The fish was excellent, and had been delivered that afternoon. We didn't get anything exotic, just some sashimi and nigri. We *did* however linger for dessert, which was as excellent as ever. The green tea ice cream was now a toasted green tea; it came out a golden color, with an incredibly complex flavour. I also got matcha ice cream mochi, which was very intense. Alternating between the two was interesting. My friend initially thought he did not like the toasted green tea ice cream, but it quickly grew on him. When our waitress ascertained that he was from out of town, he was quick to assure her that he felt the restaurant was a worthy destination for a New Yorker; but I suspect that the desserts might have in fact stolen the show from the fish or the space.

It was good, but I am still sad to have lost my neighborhood sushi restaurant. I *am* pleased to note that they still have soups at lunch, and will probably be over for lunch soon. Dinner, however, is likely off this college student's menu for a while. There were several more tables occupied when we left, but I suspect that the recession means I am not the only person regretfully finding another sushi restaurant. I hope in the end this works out for them, I really do. But, oof. Expensive.

Afterwards, I hurtled across town with liberal application of horn and bravado, and my friend boarded the train with two minutes to spare.

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The omakase here is nirvana (or as close to nirvana as you're going to get in DC) for raw fish lovers. For your choice of sashimi and sushi, they had 6 trays of fresh seafood to choose from, each tray bearing 3 to 4 types of fish. Naturally we said we want to try them all, other than 1 tray which had salmon roe, sea urchin, steamed baby clams and boiled octopus leg (had them all before). Other dishes included your choice of fried fish (we chose a small Japanese rockfish which is edible in its entirety after the chef cleaned out the innards), your choice of grilled fish (some other kind of Japanese fish - presumably flown in from Japan), your choice of soup (snapping turtle for us), a steamed prawn topped with sea urchin.

The order of the courses were - 4 appetizers (sea urchin served on top of tofu, small marinated mackerels, a small piece of grilled fish with bok choy, abalone with steamed vegetables), sashimi, fried fish, grilled fish, soup, steamed prawn, and then sushi.

Not every course was delicious but enough to vault this place to the top on the Japanese restaurant foodchain. Maybe Makoto will respond by changing their omakase?

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It is worth every penny. The cherry blossom shochu, the Sweet Fish with Bok Choy, and anything severed raw were the highlights, the mealy New Zealand prawn was far and away the lowlight. Don’t go expecting to load up on sushi, we were served two pieces and it was plenty to finish off such a large meal.

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It is worth every penny. The cherry blossom shochu, the Sweet Fish with Bok Choy, and anything severed raw were the highlights, the mealy New Zealand prawn was far and away the lowlight. Don’t go expecting to load up on sushi, we were served two pieces and it was plenty to finish off such a large meal.

I had a salad for lunch yesterday and still managed to gain 1 pound from eating basically just protein (okay, there were 3 kirin drafts too).

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I had lunch here today. I ordered the bara chirashi which came with chawanmushi. I love chawanmushi with it's wonderfully brothy custard and bits of shrimp and lotus seeds in it. The chirashi was gorgeous when it came out - bits of salmon, tuna, mushroom, egg, shredded egg omelet, seaweed, eel and some other white fish I couldn't identify, some type of pickled veg, and ikura (salmon eggs). The fish just wasn't that good, and really just looks like trimmings. One of the pieces of salmon was sinewy and I had to spit out some of it. Any delicacy was also overwhelmed by shiso leaves. The two times I've had lunch here since it reopened leaves something to be desired.

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murmurs abound about Sushi Taro being the “best in town” now, but I’m not on that train yet

Okay, I'm on now. :rolleyes:

I had a Kitchen Kaiseki ($80) at Sushi Taro a couple nights ago, and at its highest highs, it was fantastic. We started out with several small plates, including that fabulous sesame tofu I had on my first visit (this takes a great deal of time and care to make, not unlike a good risotto). The cooked dishes that came out early on were just awesome, the highlight being a soup made with Ayu, the broth made with Hamo bones and heads - you will not see either of these fish in this area. "This is one of the greatest soups I've ever eaten," my friend said to me, shaking his head in disbelief.

Then the sashimi course arrived, and it was equal to the outstanding cooked dishes, the highlight being the single greatest tako I've ever tasted - like nothing else I've had from around here. This type of tako, in Japan, is comparably expensive to toro, and once you taste it you'll see why. The toro on this plate was good, but not exceptional, and was perhaps my least-favorite sashimi offering.

A platter of three whole fried fish came next, including a whole ayu, regally presented with summer vegetables as condiments. It was fantastic. Where was all this the last time I came?

And then my question was answered when the sushi course arrived: Last time I was here, I got the Sushi Kaiseki (which has various cooked items, but concentrates heavily on sushi), and I left impressed, but not dazzled. Likewise, the sushi course this time around - which included some of that tako - left me somewhat disappointed. The sushi at Sushi Taro has a lot of room for improvement, particularly in the rice itself. Can a place have outstanding sashimi but only so-so sushi? You bet it can.

Then a tempura course arrived, which was decent but not outstanding. A lot of potato starch went into this too-thick batter, and I was looking around desperately for salt, soy sauce, some sort of dip to add some flavor to this extremely hot, thickly coated, bland tempura. The hot courses that followed, for whatever reason, took a downturn as well; one exception was another appearance of the tako in a course featuring sliced duck; this time the tako was marinated and had a silken texture, with a smokey aroma. Wonderful!

So how does Sushi Taro get their fish from Japan? Fish that nobody else in town is serving? I'm not certain, but I'd place bets that they're using True World Foods in Landover, in particular their Tsujiki Express, which, at a very high cost, air-freights seafood purchased at Tokyo's Tsujiki fish market.

How fresh is this fish? My friend guessed that the delivery occurred 1.5 days before, and that the fish was actually swimming in the ocean (and in the case of the ayu, a river or lake) a mere 4 days before our meal. That, my friends, is fresh - certainly as fresh as any Japanese seafood we're going to get in this area.

How ironic that the two chefs at Sushi Taro are named "Nobu" and "Masa." Nobu Yamazaki is the owner and runs the show (sometimes cooking), and the great, talented Masa Kitayama is the Chef de Cuisine, responsible for the hot foods (but not the sushi).

"Chef Masa is the best Japanese kitchen cook in town," my friend said, and at this point I guess I should add that my friend was Koji Terano who made the reservation by calling Masa on his cellphone. Did we get a special meal? Detail-wise, probably (although we sat at a table and were left alone); quantity-wise, probably not - I walked back-and-forth twice, looking at other plates which were similar, but perhaps not quite as artfully presented. What we had was, in parts, over-the-top amazing, but really not so different than other diners were enjoying. Also, the quantity of food was very similar to what I had in my previous visit. We also received a bill for the full amount, so no discounts came into play here.

Sushi, tempura, and special attention aside, I feel pretty comfortable saying that Sushi Taro is the best Japanese restaurant in the area right now. There is no Sushi Chef better than Koji, but you have to take the whole package, and Sushi Taro does it very, very well. And you know what? Both times I walked out, I thought the dinners were fairly priced at $80 - I know it sounds like a lot of money (and, in fact, it is), but the value for the dollar is absolutely there.

I highly recommend the Echigo Stout with this meal. Even if you think you don't like stouts, this one is mild, full of finesse, and works well throughout the entire dinner. (And drinking beer with your meal certainly keeps the cost down.)

Cheers,

Rocks.

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Omakase the other night. Worth every penny, funny that I did go to Maneki Neko in Falls Church for lunch and had Asian Beetle and Okonomiyaki. Also had my new favorite Echigo Beer at Taro. The Kobe Beef Sushi at Taro was ridiculously good. Cost for Omakase at Taro was $110-$120 a person and you got your moneys worth, especially compared to my recent meal at 15 east in NYC.

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I went for lunch today (Sushi Day!). The yellowtail was flavorful and buttery. The temaki was amazing, it seemed to surpass the regular rolls. The rice on the nigiri was great and held together very well. I don't know if it was a result of the other people in my party being regulars, but the cuts were on the thicker side. The salmon and the toro were solid. I've had better spider roll elsewhere.

Just went a few nights ago. Amazing. And a deal, really, for the kaiseki course with a supplement of 3 madai (snapper) special courses. The highlight was a huge madai head and collar. We picked that thing clean. For what you get, 10 courses, the quality of the fish, $90 was a steal. It's the sake prices that hurt, but nevertheless we had ourselves a lovely bottle of Kubota.

AND they are taking orders for osechi (New Year's food served in stacked boxes). I saw it only in Japanese on the Web site, I think they are trying to ward off people who don't realy know and love osechi. We have our order in. Will report back.

I'll write more about the dinner at my blog in a day or two: youmadam.com

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I ate there Friday (12/4/09) and had a very unpleasant experience. When I first stepped in the door I noticed it smelled very fishy, definitely not what you want as your first impression. We ordered the sushi tasting menu, but the waitress was so soft spoken we literally could not hear a word she said. Particularly when you have ordered a tasting menu, it's important to actually know what's on your plate and half the time we didn't, despite having asked her to repeat herself several times.

I was -- and my date was -- extremely underwhelmed by the food. A number of the cooked courses, including the monkfish liver and the shitake mushroom soup, didn't taste like much beyond instant miso soup. The only sushi that stuck out as particularly good was the chu toro, and there was one piece of sushi which was too fishy to eat.

For a dinner that cost $125 a head, I am EXTREMELY disappointed in the experience. I will certainly not be going back and wouldn't recommend it to anyone.

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I ate there Friday (12/4/09) and had a very unpleasant experience. When I first stepped in the door I noticed it smelled very fishy, definitely not what you want as your first impression. We ordered the sushi tasting menu, but the waitress was so soft spoken we literally could not hear a word she said. Particularly when you have ordered a tasting menu, it's important to actually know what's on your plate and half the time we didn't, despite having asked her to repeat herself several times.

I was -- and my date was -- extremely underwhelmed by the food. A number of the cooked courses, including the monkfish liver and the shitake mushroom soup, didn't taste like much beyond instant miso soup. The only sushi that stuck out as particularly good was the chu toro, and there was one piece of sushi which was too fishy to eat.

For a dinner that cost $125 a head, I am EXTREMELY disappointed in the experience. I will certainly not be going back and wouldn't recommend it to anyone.

Thanks for the insight on what must have been a let down of an evening.

Was this your first/only experience at Sushi Taro? Or was it a return visit after a long reprieve?

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I had the Omikase dinner on Friday night and think that it might have been the single best dining experience that I have ever had. I say "experience" because there was so much more to it than just the food. Sure, the dozen or so courses were expertly prepared and the fish was of a quality and variety that I had never seen before. But I've had amazing food before. What made this meal standout was that the decor, service, food and atmosphere all somehow combined to create a magical atmosphere that I will not soon forget.

The setting is very private and intimate since the bar is effectively in its own room. While the bar seats 6, they only seat two parties at a time and only have one seating per night! On Friday night it was just me and my girlfriend and one other couple so the four of us had the undivided attention of Sushi Taro's chef/owner and his exective chef...for almost 4 hours. 2 chefs for 4 customers for 4 hours. Not a bad ratio, huh? At no point did we feel rushed and the chefs were happy to answer all of our questions. I also learned a lot about the food we were eating and about Japanese food in general. In fact, the owner explained that the reason he so drastically changed Sushi Taro from its previous incarnation was becasue he wanted to show Americans that there is so much more to Japanese food than just Sushi.

The star of the meal is definitely the food. All of the fish is wild and flown in daily from Tokyo's famous Tzakizi market. It's amazing what a difference this makes. I feel like I'm now spoiled from eating sushi at other places. I don't remember the exact order of all the courses but they consisted, more or less, of the following: (1) hot sake infused with blowfish fin; (2) their famous sesame "tofu" with sea urchin; (3) a really refreshing chilled "hairy" crab from Japan served with its tamale; (4) a box of various small but intricate snacks including monkfish livier pate, ginkgo nuts, and macherel (with roe) slow cooked for 10 hours; (5) some sort of a sweet potato/lotus root dumplings; (6) a small bowlfull of tiny, traslucent baby eels; (7) sashimi, (8) blowfish sashimi; (9) blowfish head soup; (10) stewed butter snapper head; (11); oyster roasted in its shell; and, of course, (12) sushi..

I didn't particularly enjoy the baby eels due to their texture but everything else was amazing, especially the white salmon and flute fish (neither of which I had ever had before). The seared kobi beef sushi was also amazing. I wasn't sure what I would think of the stewed fish head but really enjoyed that too. Both the sashimi and the sushi were essentially served all-you-can eat. Unfortunately, by the time the sushi course came around, I had already eaten so much that I could only managed 7 or 8 pieces but the chef made it clear that we could keep trying all of the fish, get more of our favorites and simply keep ordering to our hearts' content...and this was all included in the set price for the meal!!!!

Once you factor in dessert (not included in the Omikase menu), tea, tax and tip the meal set us back around $160 a person so it was definitely expensive. But to the extent that any meal can be worth so much money, this was definitely it. I've eaten in various fancy restaurants including Michellin 3-starred places in Paris and while those experiences were amazing in their own right, none could match the intimacy and atmosphere of this meal.

Here are pics of some of the courses:

post-4196-126444816595_thumb.jpgpost-4196-126444819579_thumb.jpgpost-4196-126444821052_thumb.jpgpost-4196-126444821618_thumb.jpgpost-4196-126444822692_thumb.jpgpost-4196-126444823368_thumb.jpg

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If you have ever wanted to try Tora-Fugu (Tiger Blowfish the most poisonous and sought after type), but did not want to hop a plane to Tokyo you can now get a sampling at Sushi Taro. Don’t expect this adventure to come cheap, the e-mail I got said that it starts at a minimum of $140 per person – though I am not sure if this is on top of the cost of the Omakase or raises the base price of the meal to that amount.

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It is nice to have a chef remember conversations months after the fact, a case in point was a previous visit to Sushi Taro’s sushi bar and mentioning my love of Shio-Kombu and chicken sashimi. To my delight he incorporated both in the meal I had last night. While my counter mates were treated to a lotus root salad I was given hamachi with Shio-Kombu, a dish that I found so enjoyable that I told them I hope that they consider adding it for everyone. For another course we were presented a skewer of yakitori and chicken tenderloin sashimi. The chicken was Chabo (or Japanese Bantam) and was quite a bit tougher than the birds you find in the grocery store, but it also was packed with an intense flavor that was closer to duck than chicken.

There were some other wonderful treats as well, a house made plum wine (really dried sho-chu) that takes a year to produce, cherry blossom shrimp tempura, long cooked conch that was as unbelievably tender, king crab shabu shabu, roasted bamboo shoots, and a surprisingly tender octopus. This is my fourth trip to have the Omakasi and it just gets better with each visit.

While I have not had it, one of my Japanese friends told me that the bento lunch special is an absolute steal at $12.

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While I have not had it, one of my Japanese friends told me that the bento lunch special is an absolute steal at $12.

It is. For $12.95, you get a miso soup, a side dish of pickles, a bowl of rice and a three-section bento box with four pieces of tempura, six pieces of sashimi and your choice of sushi, fried oyster, fried chicken and a few other options.

Every now and then, they also offer a lunchtime ramen special that is excellent as well.

Alex

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Then a tempura course arrived, which was decent but not outstanding. A lot of potato starch went into this too-thick batter, and I was looking around desperately for salt, soy sauce, some sort of dip to add some flavor to this extremely hot, thickly coated, bland tempura.

The Cherry Blossom shrimp tempura last night had none of those problems, it was light, well seasoned, quite flavorful, and with just the right amount of oiliness (it should have just a touch, but served in the right portions that it is not allowed to cool before you finish it).

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When you get the omakase at the sushi bar, about what proportion of the meal is sushi vs dishes from the kitchen? If you wanted to do all sushi, could you?

The omakase is an entire meal, with the sushi is only served at the very end and it plays a very small part in the meal – this meal is a culinary trip to Japan and is about so much more than sushi. The lacquer boxes that contain the impeccably fresh seafood come out 2 or 3 times during the meal. The first time is for sashimi, they may reappear for a roasted fish, and then for the sushi. All along you get other dishes from the kitchen or prepared before you.

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Pics of the omakase at the Sushi Bar.

1. A kirin draft, sake, and the house make plum wine (reminiscent of the sour plum juice I grew up drinking in Taiwan)

2. Their specialty appetizer of sea urchin on top of tofu-life substance (it's the 3rd time I've had it but I still can't tell what that is for sure)

3. Sweet shrimp tempura with sticky rice (the shrimp tastes similar to a shrimp chip - very nice)

4. I forget what that fish was.

5. Massive oyster cut into 2 pieces, there is a piece of scallop stuffed in as well

6. Pupu plate (from front to back) - tender conch, egg with mystery substance, fish roe, bamboo shoots, kumquat, lotus root, and innards of some fish (they called it milk of ?).

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1. Baby Eel (look carefully and you'll see the eyes)

2. Shabu Shabu of King Crab - it's wild to see the chef shear the crab leg vertically with his knife. Strangely enough, when the crab is cooked without shell and not overly long, it ends up with lobster-like texture.

3. Aforementioned lightly seared chicken sashimi (I believe it is against health code to serve raw chicken) and some flavorful tough chicken skewer

4. Grilled bamboo shoots

5. Octopus head and legs (I'm still not digging octopus )

6. Lightly grilled fatty tuna (you have to ask for it to be grilled) and sea urchin (they had two kinds that day, CA and Maine).

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milt - Definition

[mĭlt]

(n.) Fish sperm, including the seminal fluid.

(n.) The spleen of certain vertebrate animals, such as cows or pigs.

(v.) To fertilize (fish roe) with milt.

Dictionary.com · The American Heritage® Dictionary

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Went to Sushi Taro for the second time since the re-do. Currently our favorite sushi/Japanese in DC by a significant margin, but you're paying for that quality. Compares favorably to a meal at 15 East in NYC this summer, which was about as good sushi as we've ever tasted (note: with one exception, the sushi rice itself is just OK, as Don has noted elsewhere it's oddly inferior to the quality of the fish).

Tonight the +1 and I shared the following:

* Omakase sushi, which included 2 types of tuna, hiramasa, scallop, mackerel, uni, salmon roe, salmon, toro, prawn, snapper, tuna roll

* live orange clam nigiri

* spicy tuna roll (quite spicy)

* grilled miso marinated black pork skewers (best grilled pork I've ever tasted)

* grilled matsutake mushrooms ($23 but amazing)

* glass of Gruet Brut from New Mexico

* glass of Bethel Heights Pinot

Total w/tax and tip ~$150 (I'd say we average under $100 at Kaz and maybe slightly over that at Sushi Ko; our best value is Raku in Bethesda where we eat on average for maybe $75 at most).

Validated parking (worth $10)

Only complaint, and I think this happened on our earlier visit, was that ordering a la carte the food is not paced properly. On our next visit we plan to pro-actively ask our waiter to pace the food more leisurely, maybe have the hot food first then the sushi.

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Had Omakase at Sushi Taro last week, for third time, and we are just as pleased as the first two times. Yes, you should know ahead of time that you like raw and slightly cooked seafood. We ask Nobu and Masa to challenge us. Out of some 30 items we ate each time there has never been more than one we would decline for seconds, but we enjoyed the experience of them anyway. Everything else is pretty normal, even the urchin "nads," just with new taste and texture profiles and more exquisite than normal. The fall menu was different from our two summer visits; at least half the items had not been seen by us before at Sushi Taro or other Japanese restaurants. Sorry, I'm not enough of a blogger to have recorded all the details of what we ate, suffice to say it included a wide variety of raw and perfectly grilled items and I left very full. It's not cheap at about $150 per person but you don't need to buy wine, only one or two Kirin. You don't go to Omakase to drink. The food would be worth it alone if you count by the piece and quality, but you need to add the full-time attention and pleasant company of the chefs plus their artistry for 3-4 hours; it's cheaper than dinner and a show, and just as pleasant. We have done the chef's table at Citronelle twice and at Laboratorio and enjoyed them, but we get a lot more attention and enjoyment at Sushi Taro's Omakase, at half the price. We intend to do this at least twice per year and probably more as friends come through town. We now have friends planning their travel around a night of Omakase at Sushi Taro.

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Last night, I had the single worst meal I have ever had at this price point. The service was atrocious, and the food ranged from good to bad to literally inedible. Although it started well, it went downhill quickly.

A good friend and I share the same birthday and wanted to celebrate a few days early with a nice dinner out. After much consideration, we decided on Sushi Taro. Before the upgrade, I went to Sushi Taro on a fairly regular basis and always enjoyed it. Last year, Jlock and I had the Sushi Kaiseki dinner, and it was amazing; we ate some of the most interesting dishes and freshest fish that we had ever had in DC. I have longed to return, and my friend thought it would be perfect for the occasion. The sushi bar was unavailable so we decided to be sat at a table for Kaiseki.

The meal started out well. We were both in good moods and excited for dinner. They have a Tuesday night special of a free bottle of Sushi Taro Sake with your tasting. It wasn't the best, but it was better than it had to be for such a promotion.

The first course was sesame seed tofu with sea urchin. It was wonderful! The sea urchin was fresh, and the dish was well-balanced. We were excited for what was to come.

The second dish was fried king crab tofu and lotus roots mochi. Two balls in a small bowl with liquid, one more spherical and one more uneven. Neither had flavor. They were gummy and not worth eating. We each had a small bite of each and decided to save room for the rest of the meal, which we still anticipated would be amazing.

The third dish is described on the menu as "Winter Dish - Small Delights of Winter." The waitress gave a comprehensive description of the elements, but it was very difficult to hear or understand her. But, there were obviously oysters and a crunchy vegetable. It was fine, but not polished. The oysters themselves were not remarkable, and the dish was unbalanced. It had a very strong acidic flavor, which itself wasn't unpleasant, but it needed something to balance it, possibly something with a little crunch as the texture was not overly pleasing.

The fourth dish was sashimi. There were about eight kinds of sashimi on a bed of ice. After we each ate our first piece, we realized we couldn't taste it. It was way too cold. All of the fish was extremely cold. It seemed to us to that fish had been refrigerated for some time after it had been cut. We decided to put each piece on our plate for a few minutes prior to eating it so that it would warm up a bit before we ate it. That worked for a while, and the fish was fine once it had sat off the ice for a while. But, it was nothing better than you would find in a strip mall in Virginia. We attributed the lack of quality to the recent storms, thinking that maybe the flight cancellations in the northeast had affected their shipments, forcing them to use more mediocre fish. It took us some time to get through the fish, as we waited for each piece to come to temperature. I guess we could have taken all of the fish off of the ice prior to eating any of it, but then we would have had to stack it on our small plates or set it on the table - neither seemed like a good option to me. And, we were enjoying each other's company, so we were fine with making sure we put the next piece down while still chewing the last. When we had three types of fish left (six pieces), a mug of broth was delivered to us. We asked if the broth was supposed to be eaten with the sashimi, and we were told that it was the next course, which is what was indicated on our menu. The waitress said that we could just drink it before we were done with the fish if we wanted. We tried a sip, but it did not really go with the sashimi, so we decided to wait until we finished the fish. If her goal was to rush us through the remaining sashimi, she succeeded. We did not wait for the fish to come to temperature, and it was freezing cold and completely tasteless.

After we gobbled up the rest of the sashimi, we took to our fifth course, which is described as "snapper broth sudachi citrus flavor." It was nice, and it was warm. It wasn't very memorable, but that might be more a reflection of our reaction to how it was delivered.

Course six is described as "hassun: assortment of seasonal ingredients." A large plate with about 8-10 different items was placed in front of us. The waitress described the items, but it was again hard to understand. The highlight was a plain-looking chunk of fish that was actually perfectly seasoned, possibly with mirin, and very flavorful. I also enjoyed the pickled lotus root. The lotus root stuffed with mustard was interesting, but I don't have any desire to eat it again. There were a few little salads that were no better than I could pick up in the cold case at the Grand Mart. There was a piece of dull-tasting overcooked brisket-like meat. And, there was more, but really all I can remember is the herring roe - it was one of the worst things that I have ever put in my mouth. We didn't know what it was when we ate it, so that may have colored our expectations a little, but either way, it was terrible. It looked like a crouton, but we, of course, knew that it was not. We each popped a piece in our mouths. As I gnawed into it, the repetitive squeak was so overwhelming that I almost didn't noticed the pervasive flavor of moldy salt-lick. But the flavor remained in my mouth for long after the sound had quieted. We left much of that plate uneaten.

The seventh course, which was again delivered while the prior was still on the table, was entitled "fukiyose: simmered winter veggies." There were several small pieces of mostly root vegetables in a small bowl, mixed in with a few chunks of cooked seafood. One of the pieces of shrimp in my bowl had a very odd looking edge sticking up. I touched it and then picked it up with my fingers. It was stiff and rubbery, and the cut end felt like sandpaper. It had obviously been cooked and cut some time ago. My friend's shrimp was rubbery, but it did not have that same edge - her piece must not have been sticking up in the same way that mine had. She started by trying a piece of octopus, but she literally could not bite through it. We both decided to skip this one. When the dishes were picked up, not a bite had been consumed. We were not asked if there was a problem.

At that point, I contemplated leaving. But, I was enjoying the company, so we completed the meal.

The menu indicates that the next course was to be "sushi: your selection of 3 nigiri sushi." While looking at the sushi menu, we agreed that we should order only fish that is generally acceptable at Whole Foods, as we were expecting it to be no better. I ordered salmon, tuna, and eel, and my friend decided on the salmon, tuna and yellowtail.

After a few minutes, the waitress came to our table with a flaming bowl of broth, announcing that it was the Kobe beef sukiyaki. We asked her if that was to be served before the sushi, and she said "no, but it must be eaten when it is done because you wouldn't want to overcook the Kobe." We looked into the bowl and saw a broth covered by thin slices of beef that were quickly turning from red to brown. She started to walk away, and we called her back, asking for spoons. She told us to wait until she had everything. After another couple minutes, she returned with another flaming bowl. And, then she left and returned with spoons, empty bowls, two bowls of raw eggs and two bowls of noodles. She proceeded to explain how to eat the dish, but I missed most of it, as I was preoccupied watching my beef getting overcooked. I did catch that the beef was to be dipped in the eggs and eaten first, and I rushed to do that as soon as she left to salvage whatever was possible. Even overcooked, it was lovely. The vegetables were good, and the broth was fine but way too sweet. We obviously had difficulty determining how best to negotiate the noodles, broth and bowls, but we were not offered assistance. We ate all of the beef and about half of the rest.

As our bowls were removed, the waitress picked up my chopsticks and placed them directly on her dirty tray. She then placed all the other items on her tray. Realizing that I would still need my chopsticks, she took them off of the tray and put them back in front of me. After I requested it, she was kind enough to get me a clean set.

Finally, our sushi arrived. Six pieces of slimy, bland-looking fish. My eel had been partially brushed with a sauce, but it congealed in a manner that gave away the length of time at which it had sat adorned. All of the fish was, again, extremely cold. I was contemplating just skipping it, when my friend decided that she would just try a little bite of each of her pieces to see how they were. Hopefully, she will herself tell you how they were. All I know is that she made it very clear that I had made the right decision to skip it. My plate was picked up untouched, and hers had 3 half pieces of fish. We were asked if we would like to take them home, but we were not asked if there was anything wrong with them when we declined.

The final course was dessert. My friend had the hoji-cha pudding, and I had the kokuto coffee ice cream. We each had a bite of each, and they were fine. Nothing special, but completely edible. It was served with a lovely tea.

When the bill, we threw down our credit cards without looking too much. When the time came to sign, we were quite surprised to see that a 17% gratuity had been included. For our party of two. Total bill around $240 (including $25 in drinks). Had anyone asked us on the way out (or at any other time) how our meal had been, we would have gladly told them. They didn't.

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