100 Best Restaurants 2008: Kotobuki
No. 65: Kotobuki
Reviewed By Todd Kliman, Ann Limpert, Cynthia Hacinli, Dave McIntyre
Comments () | Published January 1, 2008
Cheap Eats 2010 100 Best Restaurants (2010)

Kotobuki
Address: 4822 MacArthur Blvd., NW (Second floor), Washington, DC 20016
Phone: 202-281-6679
Neighborhood: Upper Northwest, Palisades
Cuisines: Sushi, Japanese
Opening Hours: Open for lunch Monday through Saturday noon to 2:30 PM. Open for dinner Monday through Thursday and Sunday 5 PM to 9:30 PM, Friday and Saturday 5 PM to 10:30 PM.
Kid Friendly: Yes
Price Range: Inexpensive
Dress: Informal
Noise Level: Intimate
Reservations: Not Needed
Best Dishes Ankimo (monkfish liver); sunomono salad; oshizushi; eel kamameshi; eel unadon; fatty tuna and yellw; mango mochi.
Price Details: Starters, $1.50 to $6.50; entre├ęs, 9.75 to $25
Special Features:
Kid Friendly, Good for Groups
Scene:
Food Specials

Cuisine: Sushi as good as it is cheap. Chef/owner Hisao Abe keeps his menu small and focused, doesn’t experiment, and maintains a tiny kitchen and waitstaff—which is how he can charge a pittance for consistently fresh fish.

Mood: Like the Beatles? You’d better. Because beyond the fish, the continuous loop of the Fab Four (Abe is a fanatic) is all there is to engage your imagination at this nondescript Palisades walkup.

Best for: Those in need of a regular sushi fix but who lack the steady funds.

Best dishes: Oshizushi, a long, Osaka-style roll that shows off a sweet, salty slab of mackerel; thin disks of monkfish liver, known as ankimo, moistened with soy vinaigrette; à la carte selections of nigiri and sashimi, among which uni, yellowtail, scallop, and white tuna are the standouts; eel kamameshi, the glazed, broiled fish atop a hot mound of rice; cold sake in a wooden box with a small spoon for trailing a line of salt on the lip before drinking; green-tea mochi, a lightly sweet, chewy treat to finish with.

Insider tips: Seek out the so-called fishier fishes—eel, mackerel—and the excellent rice casseroles, or kamameshi, which Abe accessorizes with a quartet of small, pungently flavored side dishes.

Service: ••

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