100 Very Best Restaurants 2014: Izakaya Seki

No. 20 on this year's list.
Scallop sashimi at Izakaya Seki. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Sushi has become so mainstream that it takes a place like this minimalist father/daughter operation to get raw-fish fanatics worked up anymore. And are they ever worked up about Seki, which, more than a year since opening, remains a source of buzzing foodie chatter.

It’s not hard to understand why. You’ll come across things here that you won’t see anywhere else—squid marinated in liver, for instance, or giant live scallops flown in from Japan, set under a broiler, sauced with soy and mirin, and given a finishing filip of an egg-based sauce. Not everything is so obscure, but chef Hiroshi Seki presents even familiar ingredients in such fresh and engaging ways (placing lobes of uni, sweet and oceany, in a petal-like arrangement, capping them with a quail egg, and adorning them with shiso) that he encourages you to see them anew. The selection of sashimi is small but first-rate, and the sake list is the best in Washington. 

Open: Wednesday through Monday for dinner. 

Don’t miss: Vinegar-cured mackerel; scallop carpaccio; grilled yellowtail jaw; beef tongue with miso mustard; chicken meatballs; rock-shrimp-and-vegetable fritters; broiled mero (Chilean sea bass). 

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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.

Anna Spiegel
Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.