100 Very Best Restaurants 2014: Izakaya Seki

No. 20 on this year's list.
Scallop sashimi at Izakaya Seki. Photograph by Scott Suchman.
Scallop sashimi at Izakaya Seki. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Sushi has become so mainstream that it takes a place like this minimalist father/daughter operation to get raw-fish fanatics worked up anymore. And are they ever worked up about Seki, which, more than a year since opening, remains a source of buzzing foodie chatter.

It’s not hard to understand why. You’ll come across things here that you won’t see anywhere else—squid marinated in liver, for instance, or giant live scallops flown in from Japan, set under a broiler, sauced with soy and mirin, and given a finishing filip of an egg-based sauce. Not everything is so obscure, but chef Hiroshi Seki presents even familiar ingredients in such fresh and engaging ways (placing lobes of uni, sweet and oceany, in a petal-like arrangement, capping them with a quail egg, and adorning them with shiso) that he encourages you to see them anew. The selection of sashimi is small but first-rate, and the sake list is the best in Washington. 

Open: Wednesday through Monday for dinner. 

Don’t miss: Vinegar-cured mackerel; scallop carpaccio; grilled yellowtail jaw; beef tongue with miso mustard; chicken meatballs; rock-shrimp-and-vegetable fritters; broiled mero (Chilean sea bass). 

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