100 Best Restaurants 2010: Makoto

No. 36: Makoto

Cuisine: No sushi bar in the area can match the intensity, focus, and purity of this tiny restaurant in DC’s Palisades. Chef Tetsuro Takanashi’s $60 prix fixe menu presents a parade of tastes and textures, from the simple (a cube of avocado with soybean sauce) to the deceptively simple (a slab of orange roughy with a sweet miso glaze). Many diners also indulge in a few pieces of well-sourced sashimi and nigiri from the à la carte menu. These add-ons don’t come cheap, but selections such as the fatty yellowtail and live scallop offer some of the restaurant’s greatest rewards.

Mood: The dining room exudes Zen-like serenity punctuated by shouted salutations from waitresses and chefs. Wearing the required slippers and sitting on wooden boxes instead of chairs adds to the sense of transport. Most diners seem to modulate their voices as they talk with the Geisha-like, kimono-clad waitresses.

Best for: Diners willing to put themselves in the hands of the chef and let a meal run its course.

Best dishes: The tasting menu of ten or so courses changes regularly but can include persimmon with sweet tofu sauce; mussels marinated in oil with ginger and onion; shrimp wrapped in wheat bread and fried; fried eggplant with soybean sauce; fatty yellowtail sashimi with freshly grated wasabi; miso-glazed orange roughy; beef with mushroom sauce; grape purée with Grand Marnier granita.

Insider tips: There can be hidden costs—the only water you’ll be poured is bottled water for an added charge, and the only tuna is the excellent but expensive fatty tuna.

Service: ••½

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

See all of 2010'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.