Forget the sleek, hipster-filled izakayas that have become trendy. This low-lit strip-mall eatery with tables divided by bamboo curtains is a truer embodiment of the neighborhood pubs one visits for drinks and snacks in Japan. Sample from a list of grilled skewers and gyoza, and order liberally from the sushi menu, where expertly cut slices of tuna, sweet raw shrimp (with crispy heads in tow), and brûléed eel can be ordered by the piece. Prices creep up at dinner, but lunch specials remain affordable. Try a platter with miso-grilled black cod, seasoned rice, and a vegetable side such as chilled sesame-spinach or bean-sprout salad.
Where you can get it: 9440 Main St., Fairfax; 703-425-7555
Also good: Shio (salt) ramen; shrimp-tempura roll; yakitori skewers.