100 Best Restaurants 2011: Sei
Comments () | Published January 20, 2011
Happy Hour 100 Best Restaurants (2011) 100 Best Restaurants (2010)

Address: 444 Seventh St., NW, Washington, DC 20004
Phone: 202-783-7007
Neighborhood: Penn Quarter/Chinatown
Cuisines: Sushi, Japanese
Opening Hours: Open for lunch Monday through Friday 11:30 to 2:30. Open for dinner Monday through Thursday 5 to 11, Friday and Saturday 5 to 1 AM, Sunday 5 to 9.
Nearby Metro Stops: Gallery Place-Chinatown
Price Range: Inexpensive
Dress: Upscale Casual
Noise Level: Chatty
Reservations: Recommended
Best Dishes Steamed buns stuffed with hoisin-slicked pork; wasabi guacamole with wontons; Kobe-beef tataki dotted with jellied ponzu; fish-and-chips roll; Snow White roll with eel and roasted apple; traditional nigiri such as fatty tuna, fatty yellowtail, sweet shrim
Price Details: Small plates $5 to $15, sushi rolls $7 to $15, nigiri/sashimi $5 to $14.

Only the top 40 restaurants were ranked in 2011's Best Restaurants list.

Stark white surroundings, including leather chairs with lace-up backs that recall a corset, makes this sushi-and-small-plates spot feel more Los Angeles than Penn Quarter. And the clientele is heavy on short skirts and cologne. But the kitchen puts out savvy Asian/Latin fusion dishes that hit a few hot-button trends (Kobe hot dog, upscale chicken wings) yet remain interesting and unexpected.

The same goes for the sushi rolls, whose names and ingredients—the Snow White has apples, the Fish and Chips has crunchy potato threads—sound as if the chefs are trying too hard. More often than not, the rolls work. Sushi purists will appreciate excellent nigiri and sashimi. Forget dessert—it’s the menu’s weak spot.

Also good: Wasabi guacamole, which gets its smooth texture from whipped tofu; diced tuna with coriander and mint; steamed buns with pork and hoisin sauce; surf-and-turf roll with Kobe beef, lobster, and a spicy yuzu-horseradish aïoli; “drunken shrimp” nigiri with sake jelly; fatty-tuna, yellowtail, and sweet-shrimp nigiri.

Open Monday through Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday and Sunday for dinner. Expensive.

>> See all of 2011's Best Restaurants

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Posted at 12:00 AM/ET, 01/20/2011 RSS | Print | Permalink | Washingtonian.com Restaurant Reviews