100 Best Restaurants 2009: Makoto

No. 36: Makoto

Cuisine: A kaiseki-style parade of tiny courses spotlighting traditional Japanese cooking both familiar (soba noodles and sashimi) and less well known (pickled mountain vegetable).

Mood: Kimono-clad waitresses shout, “Irrashaimase!” in unison when customers walk in, then signal for them to put aside their shoes in favor of a pair of slippers. Diners sit on wooden boxes in the sparely decorated dining room.

Best for: Foodies looking for a break from the usual high-end restaurants; sushi fans.

Best dishes: The eight-to-ten-course menu is the thing to get, and the dishes change often. Recently we’ve liked a pear-and-cranberry salad with miso-sprinkled avocado; an at-the-table grill of sea scallops, shavings of Kobe beef, and shrimp; fried shrimp with lemon; persimmon with tofu; toro sashimi with fresh wasabi.

Insider tips: The $60 set menu seems like a deal, but supplements add up. The boutique sakes are $12 and higher. Tap water isn’t available—you have to pay for a tiny bottle of Perrier. And the sushi embellishments—fatty tuna instead of regular, for example—tack on even more.

Service: ••

Open Tuesday through Saturday for lunch and dinner, Sunday for dinner. Very expensive.

See all of 2009's 100 Best Restaurants

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 Logan Circle.