A recent paint job has resulted in a brighter, lighter interior at this gracefully aging Wisconsin Avenue restaurant, which for two decades now has been the reigning sushi joint in Tenleytown—a place for wealthy older couples, graying American University professors, and smugly romantic young couples on dates. The prime real estate here is to be found outside, on the patio, under an umbrella. The dining room can occasionally feel cramped, the upstairs is dimly lit, and no one ever seems to sit at the sushi bar. And no wonder: Only two of the seats afford a decent view. The others are rendered useless by the restaurant’s tendency to stack its plates up at the far end of the bar—a time-saving convenience that seems, nonetheless, an unmistakable message to stay away. Take it as a cue to look beyond the raw fish. There are some pretty good preliminary nibbles to be had—a special of green-mussel miso, with silken broth and plump, soft mollusks; a better-than-average tempura; and a dish of marinated bean sprouts, all sharpness and crunch. A beef negimaki, glazed with teriyaki sauce and stuffed with green onions, has a good deal more give than you’d care to see, although, when topped off with some of the accompanying swirl of thinly shaved onions and a little of the orangey miso mayo, the ungainly rounds begin to approach the gruff charms of a Steak-Umm. The sushi menu contains few surprises. The fish is of generally good quality, and the more conventional choices—tuna, salmon and yellowtail—are reliably firm, slippery, and pleasantly cool to the tongue.
Todd Kliman (4/12/2005)
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