In an effort to eat healthier, Mike and I have been hitting up a string of sushi haunts in and around DC. That there is such a palette of sushi options – each with a distinct experience and take on the cuisine – is a great testament to the mainstreaming of sushi in America.
Current: Sushi and Ooonce Ooonce by the Ounce
I stepped into Current and immediately thought I was in the wrong place. Had I stumbled into a skinny jean-eyeliner convention? Music pulsed through the moodlit restaurant where the bar and all available tables were bumping along with it, even on a cold Tuesday night.
Current took up residence where Dragonfly, a sleek lounge, used to be and it seems that the remodelers had to work around the clientele who never left. The scene still focuses on the club/lounge element but serves its bold and beautiful patrons light fare such as sushi and a handful of other Asian-themed dishes. We split a dish of crunchy seaweed salad nicely balanced with a citrus zest. The vegetable and shrimp, served with a light lime-ginger sauce, come with a surprsingly delicate wrapper, succeeding with a light touch where many kitchens go thick and gluey. Sushi was decent but standard fare. The standout dish was a curious combination of tuna, fresh mozzarella, and asparagus – a surprisingly fresh flavor trio.
Current isn’t in the running to be a regular sushi haunt for us but it is worth a try. I can see it playing the perfect platform for dinner before an upscale girls night out.
Momo Sushi: New Favorites in Old Town
Momo Sushi, on the other hand, is fast tracking its way to our new favorite sushi destination. It features exactly the perfect qualities that draw us in: fresh, creatively prepared fish, relaxed atmosphere, off-the-beaten path location and friendly service that recognizes a repeat customer. Momo Sushi, slipped into a narrow townhouse in Queen Street, is several blocks away from the most well-worn sidewalks of Old Town.
More on Momo and Sushi-Ko after the jump!
Momo doesn’t need to rely on creative rolls to win repeat business. Their fish is fresh and top quality – thanks to the other family business: a fish importer based in Maryland – and the rice always has the perfect balance of vinegar to keep the flavors aligned. Our list of favorite rolls is growing but we keep finding room in our bellies for a new taste. On busy nights when the wait is particularly long the chefs often hand out a special bite to tide us over – a minced spicy salmon served on a thin slice of cucumber. Hot, cool, silky, and crunchy all in one bite.
Sushi-Ko: The Papa Bear
Sushi-Ko in Glover Park (with an additional location in Chevy Chase) boasts that it is the “oldest sushi restaurant in DC.” While I’m not a fan of tethering the words “old” and “sushi” together in a sentence, this is probably worth bragging about. Sushi-Ko has long bannered the gold standard of sushi in the DC area mixing quality options (real shaved wasabi is available on special order), prompt service, and an almost romantic atmosphere. The emphasis here is on almost. Sushi Ko is a nice location for a date if you’re willing to test his/her sense of humor on the proximity to The Good Guys. Word to the wise: Tables on the ground floor, while less plentiful, are preferable. The second floor is in desperate need of a facelift.
Still, none of this detracts from the detailed preparation of classic dishes with some unique appetizers. I began a recent meal there with a steaming bowl of mushroom soup. The rich, woodsy fungi filled me just enough to soothe my hunger pangs without sating me for the rest of the meal while its broth delivered more delicate flavors than I would have anticipated.
We were further delighted by the main courses, including a toro and scallion melt-in-your-mouth number that had us oohing and aahing until the last bite was devoured. Service hit the perfect note throughout the meal: understated and attentive. Recommendations were happily given, hot tea was refilled without fanfare or needed request, and check ins were low key but available. It’s no wonder the restaurant has survived the ups and downs of this business for so many years.