PassionFish Bethesda Opens Monday With a New Sushi Chef

Jeff Tunks brings his popular seafood spot to Bethesda Row.

PassionFish opened in Bethesda with a global menu of seafood and sushi. Photography by Jeff Elkins

Certain restaurateurs make swift copies of their successful ventures, but not so Jeff Tunks. The Passion Food Hospitality chef opened Reston’s flagship PassionFish in 2008, and waited until now to open a seafood-centric sibling, searching for the right space and market with partners David Wizenberg and Gus DiMillo; the group is also behind DC Coast, Fuego Cocina, and more. The 150-seat Bethesda Row dining room opens at lunchtime on Monday inside the Darcy, a luxury condo development.

Guests can gather at the 42-seat bar for a meal or $5 happy hour specials.

Sushi chef Jonathan Goh was brought on for the Maryland location, having formerly worked as the lead toque at Colorado’s Hooked, as well as Nobu in Miami. Diners will find an array of new rolls at lunch and dinner that go beyond the ubiquitous California, including smoked hamachi with truffled sweet soy; crispy rock shrimp with tuna, mango, and avocado; and a chili-spiked ceviche roll with chipotle-lime sauce. Sashimi fans can opt for daily-changing chirashi bowls, filled with rice, salad, and fresh fish, and opt for wasabi grated to-order.

A new sushi menu includes rolls like this one with spicy tuna, crispy rock shrimp, and avocado.

Apart from a few menu variances, the two PassionFish restaurants share the same focus: seasonal and sustainably-sourced seafood. Longtime executive chef Chris Clime deftly spans the globe, offering ceviches and fried Ipswich clams, Chinese-style smoked lobster and Thai red curry with shrimp. The health-minded can start out at the raw bar—or caviar service for a splurge—and pick from a selection of of simply-grilled fish seasoned with lemon, olive oil, and sea salt. A children’s menu is also available with $7 dishes for young fish fans, as well kid-pleasers like grilled cheese or pasta.

The focus on seafood extends to the space, accented with ocean blues, glass, and aquatic tile.

During the opening weeks guests can make reservations (or walk-in) for lunch and dinner, or head to the 42-seat bar for a Prosecco spritzer. Happy hour is offered in the lounge area, where bar snacks, cocktails, beer, and wine go for $5. Weekend brunch is slated to begin in October.

PassionFish Bethesda. 7187 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda; 301-358-6116. Open for lunch: Monday through Friday, 11:30 to 2:30. Dinner: Monday through Thursday, 5:30 to 10; Friday 5:30 to 11; Saturday 5 to 11; Sunday 5 to 10.

Not all the fare is pescatarian, like this new lemongrass steak salad with vermicelli noodles and veggies, served at lunch.
The 150-seat dining room is located in the Darcy, new luxury condos in Bethesda Row.
Diners can start out with fresh oysters, lobsters, or caviar service from the raw bar.
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.