100 Best Restaurants 2011: Sushi-Ko

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

Daisuke Utagawa brought DC its first sushi bar when he opened his Glover Park location in 1976. It now has lots of competition, but his artful interpretation of Japanese cuisine, expressed best in his small plates, keeps his restaurant and its newer sibling interesting.

The emphasis is less on authenticity and more on creativity—crispy blocks of fried eel are paired with a balsamic reduction, and rock shrimp are rolled with jalapeño, cilantro, and mayo in an unusual maki. Fish flown in from Japan—often on the specials list—shines most. Recently, that included flash-seared salmon belly, me-dai (a smooth white fish), and mejina (sweet black fish). The Chevy Chase spinoff is flashier in design and its sushi slightly better; together the restaurants are a smart pair.

Also good: Chicken dumplings with basil-like shiso; soft tofu in spicy chili-and-ginger broth; nigiri with toro and uni; soy-and-sake-marinated tuna sashimi; salmon and tuna five ways; spicy crunchy tuna roll; house-made coconut ice cream with mango mousse.

DC location open Tuesday through Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday through Monday for dinner. Chevy Chase open Monday through Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday and Sunday for brunch and dinner. Moderate to expensive.

>> See all of 2011's 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.