100 Best Restaurants 2011: Sushi Sono

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

Great service can turn an ordinary meal into a good meal and turn a good meal into a great meal. That’s one reason we’re so fond of this always-hopping purveyor of raw fish, perched on the edge of tranquil Lake Kittamaqundi. Even at prime time, with a line stretching out the door, the staff exudes a rare calm. As waves of servers descend on the table—troubleshooting, filling glasses of water, and clearing plates—you’ll marvel at the operational mastery of detail.

That attentiveness extends to King Lin’s kitchen, which sends out camera-worthy platters of rolls (among the most inventive in the area), sushi, and sashimi. Fish is flown in almost daily, and some of the best dishes are found on the dry-erase board near the sushi bar. They might include luscious fatty tuna or a whole horse mackerel transformed into tiny bites of nigiri (ask to have the kitchen fry the carcass when you’re finished—it’s a crunchy delicacy).

The handful of cooked dishes are skippable—except for anything fried, in particular a marvelous shrimp dumpling rolled in rice noodles and dusted with Old Bay.

Also good: Hot, salted edamame; live scallop; sashimi or nigiri of yellowtail or yellowtail belly.

Open daily for lunch and dinner. Moderate to 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 Petworth.