100 Best Restaurants 2008: Sushi-Ko

No. 29: Sushi-Ko

Cuisine: From sushi and sashimi to rarely found Japanese tidbits and fusion plates, owner Daisuke Utagawa and head chef Koji Terano offer one of the more far-reaching Japanese menus in the area. Utagawa, who travels the world for inspiration, is the force behind the restaurant’s unconventional pairing of Japanese food and Burgundy wines.

Mood: The industrial wood-and-metal façade gives way to a serene bilevel interior with a modern sensibility. The look is sometimes at odds with the service, which can be harried when the place fills up with neighborhood folk and destination diners in pursuit of some of the best sushi in town.

Best for: Raw-fish purists.

Best dishes: Warm baby spinach with roasted mushroom; rock shrimp and asparagus tempura; crunchy eel handrolls; robata (little skewered items) of beef tenderloin with seven-spice powder and daikon; any of the sushi and sashimi platters, which are both beautiful and bountiful; a panna cotta with shaved almonds and espresso bean that amounts to a light, ethereal tiramisu.

Insider tips: For the most pristine seafood, the omakase menu (starting at $60) is the way to go. This “chef’s choice” lineup might offer morsels such as flounder carpaccio with fried carrot noodles and truffle vinaigrette or salmon with salmon roe and red onion, plus a plate of sushi including high-grade, buttery toro. Recent meals have been a tad below the usual level, perhaps because Utagawa has been preoccupied with opening a second Sushi-Ko in Friendship Heights this month.

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.