Sure, a container of supermarket sushi can do in a pinch — mainly when you're glued to your desk and just need to wolf down some Philly rolls to keep going. But, when you really want to savor a tray of fresh-off-the-boat sashimi or perfectly composed rolls, it's time to think outside the prepackaged box.
Since there are so many spots serving up insanely good sushi in the DMV, it's best to figure out what you're craving first. Does modern Asian-fusion float your boat or are you a strict traditionalist? Maybe you're looking for a solid neighborhood joint or a hidden gem that won't break the bank. Either way, today's your lucky day: We're sharing a whopping 18 destinations guaranteed to satisfy no matter your sushi specifications. Read on, and start honing your chopstick-wielding skills.
The Glover Park outpost is Washington's very first sushi bar, but the spin-off in Chevy Chase is stealing some of the attention these days, thanks to the restaurant's sleek, minimal design and the same creativity and focus on freshness as the original.
5455 Wisconsin Avenue, Chevy Chase; 301-961-1644.
At this very traditional Northern Virginia favorite, take a seat at one of two sushi bars and watch as chefs serve up delicious cuts of sea urchin, escolar, and fatty tuna.
6715 Lowell Avenue, McLean; 703-847-1771.
Izakaya Blue Ocean
Yes, it's in a strip mall in Fairfax — but this Japanese-owned restaurant is a worthy spot for authentic rolls and standout salmon, tuna, and yellow tail sashimi.
9440 Main Street, Fairfax; 703-425-7555.
This wallet-friendly, adorable Falls Church spot is decorated with tons of its namesake waving lucky cats, and offers sushi specials like Fire Mountain rolls with spicy tuna tempura and deep-fried Vegas rolls with avocado, crab, eel, and cream cheese.
238 West Broad Street, Falls Church; 703-534-8666.
Sushi To Go
Hidden on a back street in Georgetown, Sushi To Go is the definition of hole-in-the-wall, but it has a filling lunch special with sushi, chicken teriyaki, and a salad for less than $10.
3073 Canal Street NW; 202-333-6774.
Photo: Courtesy of Sushiko
Get your fix with choices like spicy lobster, barbecued eel sashimi, or tempura soft-shell crab rolls at the stylish and sexy Zentan in Thomas Circle. Note: The light-as-air Singapore Slaw salad is something we can't leave here without ordering.
1155 14th Street NW; 202-379-4366.
Make sure you wear socks to Makoto, a Palisades gem known for its attention to detail and authenticity, as well as a rule that requires patrons to doff their shoes at the door.
4822 MacArthur Boulevard NW; 202-298-6866.
Right above Makoto is Kotobuki, a more relaxed sushi spot with fresh, tasty fish at a wallet-friendly price and a soundtrack of Beatles' songs playing on a loop. The staff must be sick of "Here Comes the Sun," but it's charming, nonetheless.
4822 MacArthur Boulevard NW; 202-281-6679.
For sushi with a rock 'n' roll vibe, look no further than H Street's Sticky Rice. Don't miss the bizarrely-named rolls — Sticky Balls, The Hot Hippy, and Godzirra, for example — or the crunchy tater tots (with the special sauce!).
1224 H Street NE; 202-397-7655.
Photo: Courtesy of Zentan
Richard Sandoval's Latin-Asian fusion resto in Chinatown offers a playful and modern take on sushi rolls — think lobster roll with yuzu-truffle cream cheese, avocado, cucumber, charred serrano-white soy sauce, and a rice puff.
781 Seventh Street NW; 202-393-2929.
Kaz Sushi Bistro
This classic sushi destination in Foggy Bottom is a go-to for chef Kaz Okochi's signature nigiri with a twist, such as salmon with crème fraîche and caviar or tuna with foie gras miso.
1915 I Street NW; 202-530-5500.
For a low-key, everyday sushi run, try Dupont Circle's Sakana, where you'll find the usual à la carte standards, plus low-carb and veggie options.
2026 P Street NW; 202-887-0900.
Kyoto Japanese Restaurant
It's easy to overlook Kyoto's nondescript facade, but the friendly staff and casual atmosphere draw in Capitol Hill neighbors with a sushi craving.
201 Massachusetts Avenue NE; 202-546-2597.
If you manage to find Momoyama's out-of-the-way location, you'll be rewarded with a quaint spot that serves up no-frills sushi and lunch deals for those who don't want to break the bank.
231 2nd Street NW; 202-737-0397.
Photo: Courtesy of Zengo
At Dupont Circle's serene, much-celebrated Sushi Taro, fresh fish is overnighted from Japan for the specials, and the omakase counter is so good, it's nearly life-changing.
1503 17th Street NW; 202-462-8999.
Kushi's dining room is modern, buzzy, and perfect for date night — and the sushi is just as hip, with creative options like a braised pork belly-and-scallion roll.
465 K Street NW; 202-682-3123.
Grabbing your yellowtail nigiri or spicy tuna roll off the rotating conveyer belt is half the fun at new London import Yo! Sushi in Union Station. Here, you'll find fun features like bright Japanime-esque decor, color-coded plates with sensors that gauge the sushi's freshness, a to-go miso soup vending machine, and self-serve water fountains at each table. Bonus: A second Yo! Sushi location is slated to open in Chinatown in March.
Union Station, West Hall, 50 Massachusetts Avenue NE; 202-408-1716.
The focus is on grilled and fried Japanese dishes at Izakaya Seki, the V Street newcomer that landed on nearly every local food critic’s hot list last year. Insider's tip: Don't miss the delish sashimi special here.
1117 V Street NW; 202-588-5841.
Photo: Courtesy of Yo Sushi/Len DePas