Thursday, August 20, 2015

Sushi Taro

Sushi Taro underwent a makeover in late 2008 when Chef Nobu Yamazaki wanted to "change the direction of Japanese cooking in this city". Located upstairs from a CVS store, Sushi Taro is notably the finest source of sushi in Washington with an alluring setting in which to admire it. The only restaurant to offer Kaiseki, "a traditional dining experience that combines the elegance of Japan's ancient courtly cuisine with the simplicity of Buddhist temple fare", Sushi Taro is a hidden gem and deserves credit as one of DC's finest restaurants. Closest Metro is Dupont Circle.

March 2011:  We went to Sushi Taro to celebrate my birthday and decided to try the Sushi Kaiseki Tasting Menu instead of ordering off the regular a la carte menu. This meal combines sushi with a variety of traditional Kaiseki dishes, creating a unique approach to the enjoyment of these different aspects of Japanese cuisine. By alternating between cooked dishes and sushi, the chef keeps your palate refreshed, curious, and open to the subtle flavors of our sushi offerings. Offered in the Nigiri style, each small, hand-squeezed morsel is balanced delicately with seasoned rice, the freshest slivers of seafood, and a hint of wasabi, along with just a touch of the special house soy sauce. Eleven courses were served including the dessert and each was an absolute joy. Our server explained each one as they came out and even ensured neither of us had any allergies prior to serving. I was adventurous and tried every single piece - as they were each beautifully presented, perfectly hand cut, superiorly fresh in quality, and melted like butter in my mouth. The toggle between cold and hot dishes was fun and kept my palette interested. The only downside is the price - high compared to other sushi restaurants- but is justified by the imported fresh fish from Japan and across the Pacific as well as the attentive service. I thoroughly enjoyed my meal and highly recommend Sushi Taro for others wanting to try the Kaiseki experience.  

February 2012:  We returned to Sushi Taro last night for the Kaiseki tasting again.  This time we were seated towards the back dining room, where it is a little more open, yet more loud.  Nevertheless, I knew the food was worth it and was ready for the multiple courses that were to follow.  Keith ordered hot sake to start and I ordered a glass of Chenin Blanc.  This time we had only 10 courses with the first being a wine aperitif and the last being dessert.  Maybe since we had been here once before, the delightment of surprise was missing, so we felt this experience was not as good as the first time.  However, the presentation was still beautiful, the fish exceptional, and all the flavors just as superb that we thoroughly enjoyed our meal.  Keith's favorite by far was the wagyu beef.  Our server was sad that I did not eat red meat and was missing out on the amazing dish.  The presentation of the meat on a charred leaf on top of individual coal boxes was unique and fun.  My favorite of the night was the braised yellowtail.  Full of rich soy flavor, the meat fell off the bone so tenderly.  Another excellent meal.  Find what we ate this round with pictures below the dashed line.

August 2015: Keith and I returned for summer Restaurant Week.  For $35, we enjoyed a four course meal with extra supplements.  We ordered a Hakkaisan - Nigori Sparkling Sake.  I never had sparkling sake before, and found it to be slightly sweet, cloudy, and delightful.  I would order it again.  

For our meal, we started with a 3 Box Tasting of edamame, sashimi, and cold soba.  It was a basic starter to get you ready for the other Japanese fare to arrive.

Next I enjoyed the Grilled Black Cod with Miso, served on a magnolia leaf.  This dish has so much umami flavor, it is very delicious and a must-try.  Keith enjoyed the 10 hour Braised Black Pork Belly in sweetened soy sauce.  It, too, was very tasty.

There were a couple sushi options to choose from. I chose the Regular 7 that came with tuna, salmon, shrimp, eel, yellowtail, whitefish, and omellete with a salmon and avocado roll.  Keith chose Special 4 (pictured above) with toro, King Salmon, Japanese fish, King Crab, and spicy tuna roll.  He also added on the supplement of extra Rainbow Roll.  The sushi was premium quality and melt-in-your-mouth.

Lastly, we each enjoyed mochi ice cream for dessert. I had the black sesame flavor, while Keith had the green tea.

All in all we had another great meal at Sushi Taro and the RW menu is a great deal.

UPDATE: This restaurant was awarded one Michelin star in October 2016.

Total Rating: 4.5
Food: 5, Price: 3, Service: 5, Ambience: 4, Accessibility: 5
What Micky Eats...

What I ate:
monkfish liver with ponzu gel, vegetable with tofu paste, grilled sardine marinated in soy sauce

Grilled King Salmon
in egg sauce

Sashimi of Giant Oyster

medium tuna, New Zealand King Salmon, Horse Makeral

spotted sardine, Japanese sweet shrimp, white salmon

Grilled Miso Black Cod
with baby bok choy and bamboo shoot

Shrimp Croquette
with tempura prawn and spring vegetable

bonito, giant prawn, snapper

Chef's Roll
scallop, King Salmon, tuna each on a crunchy roll of rice and asparagus

Japanese scallop, King Salmon, fatty tuna

Strawberry Mochi Daifuku
sweet red bean paste with fresh strawberry inside a hand made rice flour dough

Kumquat "kinkan"
wine aperitif

Goma Tofu
made with sesame seed, topped with uni, 
fermented soybean, and wasabi, in a dashi broth

White Flounder Sashimi

Amuse Bouche
monkfish liver with ponzu gel, bamboo shoots, taro chip
oyster with caviar

"Wakatake" Soup
bamboo shoots with snapper fish cake

Assortment of Seasonal Specialties
anchovies, corn bean stuffed with fish cake, tempura tomatillos,
seaweed omelette, salmon and caper sushi, shrimp sponge cake, tuna cheek, octopus

Braised Yellowtail
with turnip

"Gindara" Black Cod Houba-Yaki

tuna, live flounder, BBQ eel

Hoji-Cha Pudding
Japanese tea infused pudding with a tea-caramel sauce on the bottom

Plus Keith ate:
Chef's Roll
scallop, King Salmon, roasted duck each on a crunchy roll of rice and asparagus

fugu (blowfish), abalone, fatty tuna

Mango Ice Cream

Wagyu Beef & "Gindara" Black Cod Houba-Yaki

Octopus, Yellowtail, Tuna

Black Sesame Ice Cream

Sushi Taro on Urbanspoon

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