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Sushi Bar with Koji, at the Glover Park Sushi Ko


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[posted on eGullet 2003-2004]

Think the six-seat Minibar at Café Atlantico is a tough table to get? Try going to Sushi-Ko and landing the two seats directly in front of master sushi chef, Koji Terano.

The first thing you notice about Koji is a genuine humility, almost a shyness, perhaps born of a slight language barrier. But beneath this gentle demeanor burns an intense candle of passion, subtly unfolding like a flower in the night.

Koji has been at Sushi-Ko since 1997 (except for a six-month stint in Las Vegas), and was promoted to executive chef late last year. Just as Mozart conducted from the harpsichord, Terano leads from his station at the sushi bar, just a few steps away from the kitchen, and is ably assisted by a well-organized staff.

While Koji was making the sashimi, he began slamming something down on the counter, as quickly and as strongly as if he were trying to swat flies. It was the live giant orange clam, and when I asked him why he was doing this, he replied simply, ‘to shrink the meat,’ an elegant way of saying to ensure it wasn’t still moving.

Sweet shrimp are topped with a small bit of beluga caviar, the combination of both flavors sending each other through the ceiling. Flounder is marinated in sea kelp, giving it a mild, deep finish, and the silken texture of the warmest of the Amernick caramels. A live scallop is coarse and fibrous, and is like nothing you have ever tried.

I asked Koji what he would order if he were sitting in my seat, and he replied, ‘the chef’s choice sashimi, a small dish or two, and then the chef’s choice sushi, in that order.’

When Koji served the sushi course, he presented five pieces, remarkable in their complexity and as simple as simplicity itself. Yellowtail was served with its own liver, sea urchin had the texture of custard and a sweet finish of the sea, seared medium-fatty tuna had the persistence of dry-aged beef and the innocence of childhood.

‘It’s a dilemma whether to eat this right when you serve it, or to give the course the proper respect and contemplation,’ I said. ‘How quickly do we need to eat this?’ He smiled and said, ‘as quickly as you can,’ and then actually apologized for not serving them one at a time. He was overruled, as the course was savored fifteen minutes or longer.

Koji is only 29 years old, and spent the first 22 of his years in Japan. He told me he misses the freshness and variety of fish available in Osaka, but smiled when he professed his love for Volnay and Charmes-Chambertin. Having been to Sushi-Ko many times over the years, I can say that nothing has had the impact of the last two times I have gone, sitting directly in front of Koji. Those lucky few that are able to secure these two seats and turn themselves over to the hands of the master, will be rewarded with a meal as immediate and profound as any in Washington.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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Dinner at Sushi-Ko last night was a true pleasure. I took our Fearless Leader's advice and put the responsibility for selecting my meal in the hands of Chef Koji Terano. I had the added bonus of being able to watch those hands just a few feet from where I sat. This is someone who obviously loves what he does. He handled that beautiful knife with such intensity yet ease. Everytime I watched him begin a new dish, I hoped it was for me. Many of them were, and many of them were sublime.

Those ceviche-like thin slices of sweet shrimp made me feel as if I was eating a whole new never before experienced category of food. Same goes for the half dozen disks of scallop with tiny matchsticks of radish and a smidgen of Sevruga. The flavors, aromas, and textures all came together wonderfully.

For such expert preparation and high quality ingredients, the cost of a luxurious dinner at Sushi-Ko is remarkably reasonable. Get yourself over there and savor every bite. You'd be missing out if you didn't.

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For such expert preparation and high quality ingredients, the cost of a luxurious dinner at Sushi-Ko is remarkably reasonable. Get yourself over there and savor every bite. You'd be missing out if you didn't.

I'm all for paying for quality, but my wallet doesn't always have the same disposition. Just to make sure my wallet doesn't try to kill me if I go for this experience next week, what was that cost?
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I'm all for paying for quality, but my wallet doesn't always have the same disposition.  Just to make sure my wallet doesn't try to kill me if I go for this experience next week, what was that cost?

3 of us dined very well for about $115 before tip. The lion's share of the bill was my part of the dinner. I had a few more courses than the other 2. We didn't have Burgundy, but did have a bottle of sake.

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I had the pleasure of enjoying Chef Terano's magic this evening. We put our meal in the hands of the chef and of course were not disappointed.

The meal started with a small tempura appetizer. It consisted of one piece of asparagus and about 6 pieces of what I think were small shrimp. They were served with a sauce that reminded me of a tarmasalata, a lemon wedge and small serving of sea salt.

Next came a shrimp and grouper sashimi dish. The ama-ebi was topped with a dollop of American sturgeon caviar while the grouper was topped with a small sliver of shiso and a dollop of uni. At the bottom of the ebi were their tails which had been broiled. The whole dish was topped with a uzu vinaigrette. The caviar brought just enough salt to the shrimp to highlight it's oceanic beginning. Uni and shiso accented and even at times overpowered the grouper, although it was a welcomed overpower.

One of my dining companions noticed that while we were enjoying the shrimp and grouper Chef Terano disappeared. When he returned he brought with him plates of seared tuna topped with shitake mushrooms and fried potatoes. It was topped with a soy uzu sauce of some sort. Again another excellent combination. The fish, mushroom and potato each had a delicate flavor that blended together. The potatoes created a creamy background for the tuna and mushroom.

The cooked dishes continued with the much loved soft shell crab tempura. This is how a soft shell should be served. It was a nice sized crab (had it's shell hardened it probably would have passed as a large these days) full of meat. It was served with a soy based sauce and a small salad of corn shoots and micro greens.

We finished with a platter of eight pieces of sushi. Included was the most decadent uni, two types of tuna (including a beautiful piece of toro), salmon, grouper and Japanese rock fish. Our last bite was a piece of eel which was requested by my other dining companion.

Sitting in front of Chef Terano and watching the magic he performs with his knife is a reminder of what is lacking in most American Japanese restaurants: classically trained sushi chefs. Although Chef Terano did not go through the traditional decade-long sushi training that is required in Japan, with his knife he creates art that is hard to find in our city.

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"I'm heading over to Sushi-Ko around 6, want to join me?"

When I heard those words yesterday, I knew things were looking up. I'd been having a bad week, and few things improve my mood like Japanese food, the source of so many of my comfort dishes.

Perched on seats at the sushi bar in front of Executive Chef Koji Terano, we put ourselves in his hands. "Some sashimi, some sushi, some small dishes, some cooked food ... whatever you want to serve us," we said. Koji smiled.

We started off with a glass of plum wine to whet our appetites, and opened our bottle of champagne when Koji placed our first dish in front of us. According to him, champagne pairs well with sashimi. And it turns out, he's right. Our first course was a sashimi presentation of hirame (flounder) topped with engawa (flounder fin) and lightly sauteed ankimo (monkfish liver), topped with American caviar, micro-scallions and a sauce of ponzu and grated daikon. The combination of flavors and textures was incredible, and I probably could have gone home happy after finishing that plate.

But no, silly girl. Thankfully, the time for going home remained hours away. Koji next presented us with a sashimi plate, a selection of hata (grouper), hotate (live scallop), sawara (Spanish mackerel), and big-eye tuna, accompanied with seaweed, daikon, radish, and carrot. What was most remarkable about each of these fish was its texture ... the grouper, with a little bit of chewiness; the smooth scallop; the silkiness of the mackerel; and the melt-in-your-mouth nature of the tuna. I was also surprised at the mildness of the mackerel ... I always enjoy mackerel, but the slightly strong flavor I expected was not found in last night's dish. That explained why Koji suggested we eat the mackerel before the tuna (although he agreed it could go either way) ... neither fish would really overpower the other.

Next, we were presented with a cooked dish, tuna three ways - tuna jaw, tuna cheek, and fatty tuna jaw, served with four accompaniments - a salt/chili flakes/black sesame seeds combo, fresh grated wasabi (from South Carolina, who knew?), a yuzu-jalapeno dipping sauce, and lemon. By this point our champagne was gone, and we paired this dish with a burgundy - a perfect match. The jaw presentation was fatty and gelatinous, and a dip in the salt mixture followed by a touch of lemon made each bite perfect. The cheek almost reminded us of a South American pork dish, especially when enjoyed with the yuzu-jalapeno sauce. And the fatty jaw ... it was grilled, with a crisp outside and melting inside, and to my taste needed no accoutrements whatsoever. It was at this point in the meal that my dining companion made his true feelings known. "I love you," he said to Koji. "Me too," replied Koji.

The tuna dish was delicious, but to me most important for its educational value ... that such different flavors and textures can be coaxed out of different areas of the head of the same fish was phenomenally interesting to me, and gave me a whole new appreciation of the skill that goes into butchering and dish-planning.

So. Not. Done. I have to admit, at this point I was close to throwing in the towel. But I persevered, and I'm glad I did, because in terms of flavor, the next course closely rivaled the first for "favorite dish of the evening" in my book. Koji brought us what he called his "fish and chips soup" - a broth thickened with kuzu (a Japanese root starch) and filled with pieces of seafood (I seem to remember crab, but I'll admit that my memory begins to get a little hazy around this point of the meal) and seaweed. Floating on top was the fish and chips -- lightly fried pieces of flounder, and sweet potato chips. My words can't do this justice - it was just perfect, and perfect at that point in the meal. My excitement about the soup was obvious, and it spurred a conversation with Koji about one of my favorite food memories from my travels in Japan -- the yakimo trucks driving through the neighborhood, selling roasted Japanese sweet potatoes as delicious snacks. The sweet potatoes in Koji's soup were American, but they still invoked a memory from seven years ago, making the dish taste that much better to me.

"We've still got to get rolls," my friend leaned over and said to me. I smiled weakly back. "Right." So we did - a white tuna and jalapeno pepper roll, and a roll filled with fatty tuna, shiso leaf, and radish. They were delicious, the jalapeno pepper adding a great zest to the first, and the shiso leaf a nice clean flavor in the second.

I only wish I had still been hungry.

ETA: Somewhere in there, there was also a lightly cooked lobster tail, topped with bottarga (salted dried mullet roe). Not the most interesting dish, since I forgot about it in my original post! But not bad either...

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I would really like to try Omakase at the sushi bar here - but i have a couple of questions... First - is it possible to make reservations to sit at the sushi bar? and second, around how much is it, I've read about $50/person minus sake - is this accurate?

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O.k. picture this. You are walking to sushi-ko. You go in and you can't sit at the sushi bar (arrrg) so then Mr. Allen Smith (the manager) asks you to come back in twenty. You go and do some stuff, and when twenty minutes is up the sushi bar is half empty smile.gif !! That is how I got to taste the best sushi I have ever had! When we (me and my dad) were there we had six nigiri, (live scallop, yellowtail belly, lightly seared flounder, and salmon belly, and two tuna) a chicken yakitori, a spicy rock shrimp & cilantro roll, and a rainbow roll. The people at sushi-ko are really nice! For example, chef Koji, (the chef) and Mrs. Kyomi (his wife). And that is just scratching the top!!! The only two problems (and this one isn't really a problem because it happens every time I eat sushi) is my stomach gets all gelatiny (gelatiny adj. the act of being like gelatin). The other problem was I kinda gagged on the sea urchin wacko.gif . Don't get me wrong it tasted great! it was the texture. To sum it all up, the best sushi in D.C. that I've had! (The other one I tried was Kotobuki). smile.gif

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O.k. picture this. You are walking to sushi-ko. You go in and you can't sit at the sushi bar (arrrg) so then Mr. Allen Smith (the manager) asks you to come back in twenty. You go and do some stuff, and when twenty minutes is up the sushi bar is half empty smile.gif !! That is how I got to taste the best sushi I have ever had! When we (me and my dad) were there we had six nigiri, (live scallop, yellowtail belly, lightly seared flounder, and salmon belly, and two tuna) a chicken yakitori, a spicy rock shrimp & cilantro roll, and a rainbow roll. The people at sushi-ko are really nice! For example, chef Koji, (the chef) and Mrs. Kyomi (his wife). And that is just scratching the top!!! The only two problems (and this one isn't really a problem because it happens every time I eat sushi) is my stomach gets all gelatiny (gelatiny adj. the act of being like gelatin). The other problem was I kinda gagged on the sea urchin wacko.gif . Don't get me wrong it tasted great! it was the texture. To sum it all up, the best sushi in D.C. that I've had! (The other one I tried was Kotobuki). smile.gif

You rock, Matt! I don't imagine that there are too many kids your age who are as adventurous as you are, when it comes to eating sushi. My daughter has always had a fairly sophisticated palate, but until she was about 15, she would only eat cucumber rolls and eel when we went out for sushi. Now, at almost 17, she likes tuna, toro and yellowtail a lot. But she still won't eat urchin!

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O.k. picture this. You are walking to sushi-ko. You go in and you can't sit at the sushi bar (arrrg) so then Mr. Allen Smith (the manager) asks you to come back in twenty. You go and do some stuff, and when twenty minutes is up the sushi bar is half empty smile.gif !! That is how I got to taste the best sushi I have ever had! When we (me and my dad) were there we had six nigiri, (live scallop, yellowtail belly, lightly seared flounder, and salmon belly, and two tuna) a chicken yakitori, a spicy rock shrimp & cilantro roll, and a rainbow roll. The people at sushi-ko are really nice! For example, chef Koji, (the chef) and Mrs. Kyomi (his wife). And that is just scratching the top!!! The only two problems (and this one isn't really a problem because it happens every time I eat sushi) is my stomach gets all gelatiny (gelatiny adj. the act of being like gelatin). The other problem was I kinda gagged on the sea urchin wacko.gif . Don't get me wrong it tasted great! it was the texture. To sum it all up, the best sushi in D.C. that I've had! (The other one I tried was Kotobuki). smile.gif

MattRocks, MattRolls (when we're taking sushi). This post reminds me: I didn't have sea urchin for the first time until my mid-twenties, but I was like 8 the first time I had eel and octopus (to other eight-year-olds then that was akin to eating bats and snakes; it was freakish, I was convinced). Just to get on my nerves, my Dad would tell my friends, "Meaghan loves octopus and eel and raw tuna," and I'd snap back, "No, I don't, Daaaaaaad. You just gave it to me, and I didn't even know what it was!!"

Dads are the worst sometimes wink.gif

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O.k. picture this. You are walking to sushi-ko. You go in and you can't sit at the sushi bar (arrrg) so then Mr. Allen Smith (the manager) asks you to come back in twenty. You go and do some stuff, and when twenty minutes is up the sushi bar is half empty smile.gif !! That is how I got to taste the best sushi I have ever had! When we (me and my dad) were there we had six nigiri, (live scallop, yellowtail belly, lightly seared flounder, and salmon belly, and two tuna) a chicken yakitori, a spicy rock shrimp & cilantro roll, and a rainbow roll. The people at sushi-ko are really nice! For example, chef Koji, (the chef) and Mrs. Kyomi (his wife). And that is just scratching the top!!! The only two problems (and this one isn't really a problem because it happens every time I eat sushi) is my stomach gets all gelatiny (gelatiny adj. the act of being like gelatin). The other problem was I kinda gagged on the sea urchin wacko.gif . Don't get me wrong it tasted great! it was the texture. To sum it all up, the best sushi in D.C. that I've had! (The other one I tried was Kotobuki). smile.gif 

Just wait until you try fish eyeballs!

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I won't be ordering any sea urchin, though. I am not as brave as Matt Rockwell. :blink:

He was brave, yes, but it was only a small piece of sea urchin (with a shiso leaf) sitting atop a piece of seared flounder. He put it in his mouth, his eyes immediately got as big as saucers, and he began to gag. Believe me, it was a dicey few seconds at the sushi bar: Things could have gone either way, and I mean that literally. Incidentally, Koji had originally left the uni and the shiso off of Matt's piece (wisely, I will add), but added them upon request.

And it was great as always!

Rocks.

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Sometimes I get little reminders of just how scant my culinary knowledge is compared with some folks around here.

A buddy of mine and I were walking up Wisconsin Avenue Monday night, on our way to Heritage India which was the only restaurant in town that seemed to be open - and I'd called about a dozen places that weren't answering their phones - not even 2 Amys.

We walked by Sushi-Ko, peeked through the window, and noticed that Koji was there. Well, why not.

In an otherwise full downstairs, we somehow managed to walk right in and snag the only two seats left at the sushi bar, the ones right in front of Koji. It was omakase time.

At one point, Koji brought out a bluefin tuna tataki course, then needed to run back into the kitchen for something. Right as he leaves, my friend turns to me and says, "this is fin meat."

"How do you know this?"

He shrugged his shoulders. "I just do."

"From the dorsal fin?"

"There's no meat by the dorsal fin - this is from the two fins coming off the neck."

"I'm calling bullshit on this one," I said.

Koji came back, and I asked him, "what kind of tuna meat is this?"

"It's from the fin."

"Which fin?"

He pointed to his shoulders. "There's two fins right here."

I looked over at my friend, and said "how did you know this?"

"It isn't like I don't know how to cut up a tuna," he said.

From that point forward, I just shut up and ate, although later on I did challenge him to play "Name That Fish," looking through the glass at the sushi bar, going right-to-left, and figuring out what was what. He rattled them all off without any thought - he was like, "ebi, salmon, hamachi, hamachi belly, medium-fatty tuna, tuna jaw meat, cucumber blossom ... well that wasn't too hard, was it?"

I am not worthy,

Rocks.

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Last night, my daughter and I walked in without reservations and were shown to seats at the sushi bar in front of chef Koji-san. We started with a small plate on the special menu--crab cakes with yuzu aioli and wasabi salt. These were amazing. Six walnut sized, oval-shaped nuggets that were deep-fried to a dark golden crunch. The crab meat inside was sweet and creamy, with deep crab flavor. The yuzu sauce was addictive. I could have eaten the plate by myself in a heartbeat, but I was a good mom and shared. I had a chef's sashimi plate with freshly grated wasabi--three small slices each of two different cuts of Big-Eye tuna, cobia, sea trout, three tiny flounder rolls with bits of shiso and uni inside, and one Maine scallop, sliced into thirds. All very fresh and tasty, but I'm not sure it was worth $38. I've been eating at Kotobuki too often, I guess. Those crab cakes for $10 were worth going back for, though.

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More often than not, meaningful food discoveries come, not from trapsing out to an ethnic mom-n-pop in the distant suburbs, but from looking deep within the familiar. Not wanting to over-rave or over-write, I tend to go to Sushi-Ko on my "off weeks" when I'm not writing anything, and I just want to eat what I want to eat.

Tonight I walked in just looking for a few rolls, but a seat was open in front of Koji so I nabbed it.

I won't go into the maki he made, because nothing he does surprises me any more, but my epiphany came when i asked for the check.

"Do you want some dessert?" Niporn asked me.

I really didn't, but the situation was decibly exposed, so I politely asked to see the dessert menu.

She brought it, I glanced at it briefly, and ordered the Panna Cotta, thinking I'd take a respectful couple of bites and be on my way.

Well ... WOW!

I took one bite, and darted a look up at Koji. "This is REALLY good panna cotta," I said.

"You've never had that before? I got the recipe in Italy with Daisuke when we went a few years ago. The chef came in here once and said he likes mine better than his."

I guess in retrospect, I have had this before, but hundreds upon hundreds of meals later, I had completely forgotten about it.

Panna Cotta. Sushi-Ko. $5.50. $5.50! GET IT!

Four-dollar valet parking: Here's your late-night dessert spot when in Georgetown. Ah, but there's also Citronelle Lounge, Hook, and Mendocino Grille.

Mendocino Grille for dessert?

Oh yeah. Stay tuned...

Cheers,

Rocks.

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I've become a huge fan of clam bands. No, I'm not talking about The Pussycat Dolls or The Bangles, but the strips of connective tissue from the Aoyagi, also known as orange clam, round clam, or Japanese red clam.

This past Sunday, Koji served a small plate of round little cylinders. "They're scallops," he said. But they weren't; they were tough and chewy, and it turns out they were Kobashira, the scallop which comes from the Aoyagi. Two little scallops come from each clam, each the size of a nickel - they're fibrous and sea-y.

Continuing his presentation, he went on to serve a warm, marinated little pile of bands - loops of calamari-like meat which hold the Aoyagi's tongue in place. Raw, these would be impossibly tough, but cooked gently, and marinated with a little soy sauce, they made for the most intriguing of mounds: delicate, mild, and slightly chewy.

A return visit to Sushi-Ko last night left me with only fond memories of clam bands - no Aoyagi remained on the menu, so I moved on to Sawara, Sugi, and Botanebi - lust to love.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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It's been a good, long time since I've paired 2001 Mugneret Ruchottes-Chambertin with Cod Sperm, but that's exactly what I did tonight at Sushi-Ko.

Shirako (literally, "white children" in Japanese), is the cod milt, resting in solid form inside the abdomen. At some point in the reproductive season, the horny male cods swim around, heating it up, liquifying it, and spraying it onto the eggs which the females have laid in beds of seaweed. It's squiggly, and has the texture of sweetbreads, but tastes unmistakably of cod. Grilled, with a brushing of soy sauce, it makes a dazzling combination with this great bottle of Grand Cru Burgundy.

How was your week?

Rocks.

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It's been a good, long time since I've paired 2001 Mugneret Ruchottes-Chambertin with Cod Sperm, but that's exactly what I did tonight at Sushi-Ko.

Shirako (literally, "white children" in Japanese), is the cod milt, resting in solid form inside the abdomen. At some point in the reproductive season, the horny male cods swim around, heating it up, liquifying it, and spraying it onto the eggs which the females have laid in beds of seaweed. It's squiggly, and has the texture of sweetbreads, but tastes unmistakably of cod. Grilled, with a brushing of soy sauce, it makes a dazzling combination with this great bottle of Grand Cru Burgundy.

How was your week?

Rocks.

Ha Ha Ha. He said "sperm"! and ate it too!!
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Awesome meal at sushi ko in glover park. After all the great restaurants in the city popping up left and right, Sushi Ko is one of my favorites in the city. +1 and I sat at the bar and put ourselves in Koji's hands, starting off with the smoked mussel and eggplant soup and lobster and asparagus soup. After that we had the following dishes:

Sashimi plate: medium fatty tuna, corbia, flounder, and a bunch of creative combinations of fish sea urchin and caviar (I wish I could remember these in detail)

Sushi plate #1: salmon belly, fatty tuna and filet mignon tuna (thats what Koji called it)

Sushi plate #2: tuna tartar with shitake tempura, tuna tartar with jalapeno and carrot tempura

sushi plate #3: salmon 4 ways sushi (salmon roe, belly, smoked salmon, salmon skin and avocado)

for desert we shared fried banana and vanilla ice cream, which was good (nothing special)

I love this place

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Awesome meal at sushi ko in glover park. After all the great restaurants in the city popping up left and right, Sushi Ko is one of my favorites in the city. +1 and I sat at the bar and put ourselves in Koji's hands, starting off with the smoked mussel and eggplant soup and lobster and asparagus soup. After that we had the following dishes:

Sashimi plate: medium fatty tuna, corbia, flounder, and a bunch of creative combinations of fish sea urchin and caviar (I wish I could remember these in detail)

Sushi plate #1: salmon belly, fatty tuna and filet mignon tuna (thats what Koji called it)

Sushi plate #2: tuna tartar with shitake tempura, tuna tartar with jalapeno and carrot tempura

sushi plate #3: salmon 4 ways sushi (salmon roe, belly, smoked salmon, salmon skin and avocado)

for desert we shared fried banana and vanilla ice cream, which was good (nothing special)

I love this place

I would love to do something like this, but am afraid I can't afford it - Would you mind please sharing your price-tag?

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Veggie-teen and I went out for our traditional "while the cat's away" sushi meal at Sushi-ko (Glover Park) last night. (He's birding in Mexico.) Requested and got seats at Koji-san's station at the sushi bar.

Started with sunomono, which usually has octopus and/or a variety of seafood with cucumber and seaweed. This one had no octopus, just three completely tasteless shrimp. Tasted blah until I added a good slug of soy sauce.

Veggie-teen was feeling under the weather and not terribly hungry, so she had only two pieces each of maguro and hamachi, nigiri-style. I aske Koji-san to select what he thought the best of what was on offer, six pieces worth. The plate placed before me was orange clam, Japanese sea bream ("My favorite," said Koji-san), flounder fin meat with shiso and uni, chu toro, grilled salmon belly, and one more that was apparently forgettable since I can't remember what it was. Koji-san took great pains in fixing the flounder fin with its garnishes, but it tasted only of shiso and a hint of the tiny smidgen of uni. "Just texture" Koji explained. Perhaps the pleasure is too subtle for my pedestrian palate. During all the time taken on that one piece, the grilled salmon cooled off and had considerably less charm than had it still been warm. The sea bream was delicious and the chu toro made me swoon. I had seconds of those two.

And we shared panna cotta dusted with espresso and cocoa for dessert. We've had it before. It is fabulous. Why can't I make panna cotta that perfectly silky? Veggie-teen thinks it would be a good idea for me to practice, practice, practice making it, because she loves even imperfect panna cotta. And with more practice, I may eventually get it nailed. She started remembering various kinds I've made that she has liked despite their textural faults-- Earl Grey tea, mango, coconut...

I was still hungry when we left, but we only spent $50. No alcohol, though. Just drank water and o-cha. I ate half a banana when we got home.

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I'm reasonably certain I've joined an elite corps of DC diners who've had both Filipino pig-blood stew and a Japanese sea bream eyeball in one day.

"Do you like fish jaw," Koji asked.

"Sure, is it yellowtail?"

"No, Japanese sea bream."

Madai!

It was late in the evening, and I had only come in for a couple of rolls. About fifteen minutes later, out came a presentation of Madai Scraps, served four-ways: the front of the head, the jaw meat, the gills, and the ribs, all served in a mild sake-based broth with bits of deep phyllo-greens.

"The gelatinous part around the eye is really good."

I looked at him.

"Then take out the eye, put it in your mouth, and suck on it."

What?

"Then spit it out."

Is it possible Koji fished this carcass from the garbage and made it into a world-class dish a la minute? I'll never know, but boy oh boy was it good, and you'll never see anything like it on any menu because navigating the bones was like trying to drive a mack truck through a house of toothpicks.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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My Dad enjoys eating fried whole fish at home. There is actually the art of utilizing and eating everything, especially whole fried fish. Like eating finger licking good chicken wings, drumsticks or ribs with your fingers, he eats it all, crispy tail, fins, head and all until all you see is the clean fishbone. My siblings and I try to restrain him from doing this in restaurants. ;)

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I'm happy to announce our area's newest top-end dining experience: Sushi Bar with Koji.

For too long, this incredible dining experience has been overlooked, simply because it's not "officially designated" as a separate entity. Well, that's exactly what I'm doing right now.

With Koji's permission, I am making this a separate thread - he even thought of the name himself, last night, as he was coming up with amazing-dish after amazing-dish. Sushi Bar with Koji is one of absolute top dining experiences in the Washington, DC area, and at its level of quality, it may be the least expensive.

Although there is no separate phone number to call, any diner can call Sushi-Ko's Glover Park location and request a reservation at the "Sushi Bar with Koji." Seating is available for 1 to 4 people (but no more than 4). The price of the meal is variable, but can be dictated in one of two ways:

First of all, when you're seated, tell Koji that you're there for an omakase. And then, being as specific as possible, let him know:

1) how many courses you'd like (3, 5, 10, or even just say "a moderate amount of food," or "we want the very best you have, and we're starving.") - also, if you'd like to turn yourself over to him completely, or if you'd like your meal to have a concentration on sashimi, sushi, maki, hot plates, etc.

2) how much you want to spend per person, giving an exact dollar amount, and letting him work within your budget. While there are no specific minimums, I would recommend not going below $45 a person. While some people might be hesitant to quote an exact dollar amount, it is extremely helpful in a situation like this (as an aside, reputable sommeliers really appreciate hearing an exact dollar amount when they're trying to help you select the best bottle to fit your budget). Regardless, this type of specificity can be a bit uncomfortable when you're on a date, which is why I hope Sushi-Ko will eventually come up with separate menus with several different price points ("Sashimi and Sushi," "Deluxe Omakase," "Emperor's Feast," etc.)

Although sometimes I say I want the courses weighted with sashimi (or whatever), I generally just say "omakase," turn myself over to him, and let him take care of me. He'll do the exact same for you. The above information is useful, but don't stress about it too much.

I should emphasize here that Koji is a personal friend (i.e., we've met for dinner in the past), but also that this is available to anyone and everyone who calls and makes the reservation. We specifically discussed this last night, and he was very enthusiastic about diners entrusting themselves to him. I have never sent anyone to sit in front of Koji where they didn't come away raving about the experience. And do not miss his panna cotta for dessert - it's the best I've ever had. You can also bring a bottle of wine and pay a corkage fee (I urge you to make it either Champagne or Red Burgundy, and by all means, ask the server to pour him a glass - he always appreciates the gesture, and it only raises the level of camaraderie between chef and diner). This is an intense, intimate experience, and you will be friends by the time you leave.

I'm initiating coverage in the Dining Guide for "Sushi Bar with Koji" with my highest rating (bold), because it has consistently been a dining experience that exceeds nearly all others in the Washington, DC area.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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I dropped in on Sushi-Ko yesterday evening for "girls' night out" sushi with my daughter, who was home from college for the holiday weekend. And weren't we lucky enough to find two empty seats at the sushi bar directly in front of Koji-san. I wish I could have done a pull-out-all-the-stops omakase, but I merely told him that we weren't terrifically hungry, and left it up to him to serve us sashimi and then a few pieces of sushi. He gave us lobster--the claw meat in a sesame ponzu sauce, and the tail meat with a delicious green miso paste, which he explained was white miso mixed with the lobster's tomalley, soy and mirin. This was my first experience eating raw lobster, and now I know that I much prefer it cooked. The ponzu and miso were fabulous, however. Then we were served a selection of sashimi that was sensational--the most succulent salmon I have ever tasted, along with Japanese horse mackerel, Spanish mackerel, lean and fatty tuna, yellowtail and paper thin flounder. Koji recommended dipping the fish slices into a little bit of applewood-smoked salt that he had sprinkled at the bottom of the plate. I was amazed at how much I loved the horse mackerel. It was so different than the Boston mackerel that I have come to associate as sushi-bar mackerel--not my favorite fish.

We finished with a few pieces of sushi (fatty tuna and I'm drawing a blank on the other two) and then shared a dish of espresso panna cotta, which Koji said that an Italian chef taught him how to make. We drank tea. With a generous tip, it came to about $85 for the two of us, but I wouldn't call it a major meal, more like grazing. But deliciously.

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I enjoyed the dining experience of a lifetime last night. Celebrating GF's birthday, we sat in front of Koji and had the no-holds-barred omakase. I lost count of the number of courses, but Koji performed like the master talent he is. I remember that the first course was an incredible wild mushroom soup with a spoonful of lobster essence. Mind-blowing, bracing and satisfying are the words that best describe it. Chef's choice sashimi and chef's choice sushi followed in some sequence, then there was lobster with sea urchin, fried mushrooms wrapped in cured tuna (Koji mentioned it was his favorite combination) and nearly a dozen or so amazingly good bites from across the spectrum of Osaka's culinary traditions. The flavors, freshness, presentation and master craftsmanship were spot-on in every one. I honestly cannot recall a better meal, end-to-end, than this one. Toward the end of the sequence, I began buying a few rounds of sake for all the chefs. I intend to make this a semi-regular destination. The best word to sum it all up -- Wow!

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I enjoyed the dining experience of a lifetime last night. Celebrating GF's birthday, we sat in front of Koji and had the no-holds-barred omakase. I lost count of the number of courses, but Koji performed like the master talent he is. I remember that the first course was an incredible wild mushroom soup with a spoonful of lobster essence. Mind-blowing, bracing and satisfying are the words that best describe it. Chef's choice sashimi and chef's choice sushi followed in some sequence, then there was lobster with sea urchin, fried mushrooms wrapped in cured tuna (Koji mentioned it was his favorite combination) and nearly a dozen or so amazingly good bites from across the spectrum of Osaka's culinary traditions. The flavors, freshness, presentation and master craftsmanship were spot-on in every one. I honestly cannot recall a better meal, end-to-end, than this one. Toward the end of the sequence, I began buying a few rounds of sake for all the chefs. I intend to make this a semi-regular destination. The best word to sum it all up -- Wow!

What was the pre-tax/tip total for the omakase?

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Well, keep in mind that I ordered 3 rounds of sake for the 5-6 chefs, and GF and I also downed about 6 glasses of wine. Throw that in, and all 12-14 courses (for 2) came to just north of $250. I then over-tipped liberally, and then waddled across the street for a dessert of charcuterie at Blue Ridge. It was a consumption-fest, and well worth it.

Forgot to mention in my original post that the dish that immediately followed the wild mushroom soup was a perfect little mold of cubed salmon tartare (or sashimi) mixed with diced asparagus, sauced with a citrus reduction and topped with some shavings of Oregon truffles. Sublime....

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So, without booze, it was ???

Trying to talk someone into the experience, but he won't drink, so I'm trying to give him a ballpark pre-tax/tip, no alcohol number.

Thanks.

Without drinks, easily under $100 per person, but Koji will deliver within your budget. If your budget is $50 per person, you'll get a heck of an experience.

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I enjoyed the dining experience of a lifetime last night. Celebrating GF's birthday, we sat in front of Koji and had the no-holds-barred omakase. I lost count of the number of courses, but Koji performed like the master talent he is. I remember that the first course was an incredible wild mushroom soup with a spoonful of lobster essence. Mind-blowing, bracing and satisfying are the words that best describe it. Chef's choice sashimi and chef's choice sushi followed in some sequence, then there was lobster with sea urchin, fried mushrooms wrapped in cured tuna (Koji mentioned it was his favorite combination) and nearly a dozen or so amazingly good bites from across the spectrum of Osaka's culinary traditions. The flavors, freshness, presentation and master craftsmanship were spot-on in every one. I honestly cannot recall a better meal, end-to-end, than this one. Toward the end of the sequence, I began buying a few rounds of sake for all the chefs. I intend to make this a semi-regular destination. The best word to sum it all up -- Wow!

Does one need to make specific reservations to do this, as in not just reservations to the restaurant in general?

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My dad and I enjoyed a nice meal at the bar at Sushi Ko tonight. But...it wasn't quite was I was expecting. I had reserved the "sushi bar with Koji", and then called about two weeks ago to change the date, again saying "sushi bar with Koji," but when we showed up tonight we were told matter-of-factly that Koji wasn't working today. Oh well. Maybe next time...but still a bit disappointing given what I'd read here and what I was expecting. It's too bad they didn't tell me that when I called to change the reservation date, but maybe his absence was unexpected. Still, to be safe when you call to reserve this, I'd confirm that he's actually going to be there.

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I was lucky enough to have the treat of Koji's delight's last Thursday. I am now on Daisuke's Burgundies with sushi/Japanese food bandwagon. I would have ever thought that a simple lobster dish would be improved with Vosne Romanee 1er Cru or that instead of a clear soup washing out a Gevrey- Chambertin 1er Cru that it improved both the soup and the wine. Also impressive was having a sip of an elegant Puligny-Montrachet with a bite of Wagyu sprinkled with smoked salt - the fat became as rich as butter.

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Last night, Koji came up with a novel amuse-bouche: It was a riff on - believe it or not - celery and peanut butter, except the "celery" was chilled daikon radish, and the "peanut butter" was a mixture of white miso, sweet sake, and lobster tomale. He doesn't have it on the menu, but will make it for anyone who asks. It was absolutely delicious, and fascinating.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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