Okay, first things first: do you have any idea how tough it was not to make a “Domo arrigato” pun on robatayaki or to rhyme “Kushi” and “sushi” in the title?  Anyone who knows me knows that this is either an indication that I’m growing as a person or a case of me being paralyzed by too many options.  I’m guessing the latter.

In any event, I’ve been looking forward to writing about Kushi since I found myself near the Convention Center at lunchtime a few weeks ago.  The restaurant bills itself as an izakaya, a “sit-down sake shop.”  In practical terms, it’s a full-service Japanese restaurant that offers sushi, grilled and skewered entrees and an impressive beverage menu.

That diversity allows for a wide range of experiences depending on what you’re in the mood for.  Looking for a few tender, savory skewers or charcoal grilled items to tame your appetite?  Pull up a stool at the first counter, where you can watch them prepared and cooked before your eyes.  Eager for some a la carte sushi?  There’s a second counter at the back of the shop for that.  And there’s table seating throughout the space if you want a little of both and some more besides.

I walked in by myself for lunch, and I was invited to grab a seat at the sushi counter.  Sushi sounded good (and looked better), but a quick read through the lunchtime menu convinced me to try a trio of skewers.  The combination of price and selection was just too tempting to resist.

After the jump, a rundown on the robatayaki and the details on Kushi’s newest omakase offerings. (more…)

Each year, the release of Washingtonian’s annual 100 Best Restaurants issue is a reminder of just how many worthwhile ways there are to avoid cooking at home in DC.  We’re still in awe of From Komi to Marvin’s attempt to work her way through the entirety of the 2009 list in a year (she’s got until February 8th to finish, and we’re definitely rooting for her). Here at Capital Spice, on the other hand, we tend to measure ourselves against the list over the course of our dining careers – as opposed to one season – and we try to check off a few more of the ‘bests’ each year.

We’ve only been writing here since 2008, but our Washington restaurant experiences go back quite a bit further than that (more than a decade for Mike).  As a result, there are a number of perennial favorites on the list that we haven’t talked about.  We don’t feel comfortable writing about a restaurant we haven’t visited in years; even if we could describe the meal with perfect recall, there are too many things that could have changed since our experience.

But that leaves us with that classic dilemma that every diner faces each time they go out to eat: Do you go back to a place where you had a positive experience, or do you spend your dining dollars trying something new and exciting?

For Elizabeth’s birthday this year, I decided to take her to Corduroy, one of those restaurants that had always stuck with us as a memorable dining experience.  It was a gamble; even though Chef Tom Power* is widely praised for his creativity and his steady hand with updated classics, you just don’t hear enough about it to keep Corduroy at the top of the “must visit” list.  But I had it all planned out – first we’d do dinner on 9th Street, then we’d head over to a show in the Warehouse Theatre and cap off the evening with libations at The Passenger.

And then came SnOMG.  The Snowpocalypse socked us in and kept us from Corduroy (though the intrepid staff actually braved the weather to show up and put on a dinner service for braver souls than us).  The best laid plans…

Once we did get to the restaurant later in the week, Chef Power wasted no time showing us why Corduroy was a very good choice, indeed. (more…)