100 Very Best Restaurants 2014: Makoto

Japanese Shabu-Shabu set up with ponzu and sesame sauces. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

The Japanese-food scene has grown immeasurably in recent years, with a flood of izakayas and ramen joints making this venerable haunt feel like something of a relic. But if it lacks relevance, it doesn’t lack charm. In an era of thumping beats and unbuffered surfaces, here’s a sanctuary where you leave your shoes at the door and communicate in whispers while the waitstaff anticipates your every need. Chef Gene Itoh mans the sushi counter as his father did before him, executing a fixed-price tasting menu that proceeds, somewhat unevenly but with stately calm, from small plates to sashimi. This last course is the highlight. In fact, the way to maximize your pleasure is to supplement your meal with à la carte sushi: a slab of yellowtail belly, sweet spot prawns, and a gorgeously marbled slice of salmon.

Open: Tuesday through Saturday for lunch and dinner, Sunday for dinner.

Don’t Miss: The chef’s omakase changes frequently, but recent highlights have included fried langoustine; clam-and-monkfish soup; nigiri of flounder; and grape granita.

Don’t miss a new restaurant again: Subscribe to our weekly newsletters.


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.