100 Best Restaurants 2011: Sei

Only the top 40 restaurants were ranked in 2011's Best Restaurants list.

Stark white surroundings, including leather chairs with lace-up backs that recall a corset, makes this sushi-and-small-plates spot feel more Los Angeles than Penn Quarter. And the clientele is heavy on short skirts and cologne. But the kitchen puts out savvy Asian/Latin fusion dishes that hit a few hot-button trends (Kobe hot dog, upscale chicken wings) yet remain interesting and unexpected.

The same goes for the sushi rolls, whose names and ingredients—the Snow White has apples, the Fish and Chips has crunchy potato threads—sound as if the chefs are trying too hard. More often than not, the rolls work. Sushi purists will appreciate excellent nigiri and sashimi. Forget dessert—it’s the menu’s weak spot.

Also good: Wasabi guacamole, which gets its smooth texture from whipped tofu; diced tuna with coriander and mint; steamed buns with pork and hoisin sauce; surf-and-turf roll with Kobe beef, lobster, and a spicy yuzu-horseradish aïoli; “drunken shrimp” nigiri with sake jelly; fatty-tuna, yellowtail, and sweet-shrimp nigiri.

Open Monday through Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday and Sunday for dinner. Expensive.

>> See all of 2011's 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.