To most Americans, sushi means rolls and nigiri. But chef Yoshi Ota is looking to introduce DC to a range of traditional and regional Japanese styles of rice and fish at Gakyu Sushi, opening downtown today.
Ota will offer sushi wrapped in bamboo or persimmon leaves, pressed sushi served in a wooden box, and chirashi (a bowl of rice topped with different types of fish or vegetables). He’ll even make narezushi, an older style of fermented sushi that smells “like a cheese.”
Ota started working in sushi restaurants in his native Japan at age 18, and used to run his own place in Tokyo’s Ginza neighborhood. He came to DC to partner in Kushi, the short-lived but influential sushi and izakaya restaurant, before moving on to Sushiko and then opening Yuzu in Bethesda in 2013.
Unlike Yuzu, Sushi Gakyu has no fryer or grill, but you will find a decent list of raw fish and vegetable appetizers. Customers will be able to order a la carte or snag a reservation at one of five seats at the bar devoted to omakase dining, which will cost up to $100 to $150.
There will also be a seasonal tasting of fugu, or blowfish. Ota is one of the few local chefs who has a license in Japan to prepare the poisonous fish—not that it matters much since fugu is butchered and the toxins removed before it ever hits U.S. soil. (Plus, a lot of fugu is now farmed and non-poisonous.)
Ota also has a sake sommelier certification and hopes to make his collection of bottles an impressive one.
Here’s a look at the opening menu:
Sushi Gakyu. 1420 New York Ave., NW.