100 Best Restaurants 2008: Kaz Sushi Bistro

No. 93: Kaz Sushi Bistro

Cuisine: Sushi, both traditional (raw fish alone or over rice) and experimental, with fish, seafood, even meats dolled up—to varying degrees of success—with Western embellishments, including foie gras and marinara sauce.

Mood: World Bankers, lobbyists, GW students and faculty, and office workers all find respite at lunch and dinner in this serene townhouse walkup. Transporting it’s not—and don’t expect to be pampered by the efficient, kind staff. But a comforting quietude and the simplicity and purity of the flavors make this an oasis in the bustling heart of downtown DC.

Best for: A light lunch or dinner.

Best dishes: Sea-trout napoleon, a gingery, clean-tasting tartare of fish sandwiched between crispy fried wontons; a gorgeous poached sea scallop garnished with a hit of lemon and salt; seared bonito with garlic chip; plump, sweet yellowtail belly sashimi-style; lobster with wasabi-spiked mayonnaise; miso-glazed Wagyu beef served in sizzling, bite-size cubes; braised short ribs punched up with ginger and soy and presented in a lacquered box.

Insider tips: The omakase menu invites you to put yourself in the chef’s hands and have him prepare a multicourse feast—a pretty big leap of faith. Instead, ask your waiter what fish has come in that day—Kaz orders from nine suppliers, but not everything has arrived that morning—and order accordingly. And beware: The East-West mash-up is sometimes more interesting than rewarding; the place is at its best when it’s not trying too hard, whether in an elegant baby-clam or wild-mushroom soup or a sparkling selection of sashimi.

Service: ••

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Petworth.