100 Best Restaurants 2010: Sushi Taro

No. 15: Sushi Taro

Cuisine: With so many American chefs spouting the mantra of seasonal and local, procuring high-quality ingredients is too often regarded as a certain route to great food. In sushi, however, where the quality of fish is directly proportional to the quality of the restaurant, sourcing isn’t just desirable; it’s eminently preferable. Flying in fish from Tokyo’s famed Tsukiji market, including a host of varieties never seen in this area, DC’s most ambitious sushi restaurant is turning out fresh (and sometimes shockingly expensive) selections of nigiri and sashimi and setting a new standard.

Mood: A serene, high-toned dining room that channels a spa, right down to the music, and is meant to put the focus on what hits the table.

Best for: Sushi fanatics who know that when it comes to quality and freshness, you have to pay to play.

Best dishes: Marinated whole baby octopus, an excursion in texture and funky depths; a dramatic presentation of rich, fat-striated Kobe beef, sliced thin; nigiri of eel, yellowtail, sweet shrimp, and salmon; sashimi of uni (oceanic, rich, creamy), scallop, and the best o-toro in the area; black-sesame brûlée; house-made mochi.

Insider tips: Raw is the way to go here; the cooked tends to be hit or miss (though the hits are big). But if you order à la carte and forgo the omakase menu—in which a chef will devise a special menu for you—you may have to take charge with your server and self-pace your meal; dishes can pile up at the table.

Service: ••

Open Monday through Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday for dinner. Very expensive.

See all of 2010's 100 Best Restaurants

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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.