Sushi Lovers: Don’t Miss This Omakase Lunch Pop-Up Deal

Sushi Nakazawa alum Masaaki "Uchi" Uchino is offering a $40 "quick omakase" at the Square food hall

Former Sushi Nakazawa chef Masaaki "Uchi" Uchino is taking over the counter of Casa Teresa for his omakase pop-up. Photograph by Jessica Sidman.

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Kiyomi Sushi at the Square. 1850 K St. NW.

Former Sushi Nakazawa chef Masaaki “Uchi” Uchino isn’t slated to officially open his sushi restaurant inside the Square food hall in downtown DC until early next year. But in recent weeks, he’s been giving a little preview of Kiyomi Sushi to those in the know. He’s taken over the tapas counter of the food hall’s forthcoming Spanish restaurant Casa Teresa to offer a “quick omakase” lunch. The $40 deal (plus 22-percent service charge)—including seven pieces of nigiri, a hand roll, and miso soup—is one of the best values in town for high-end sushi, and this week may be your last to try it.

UPDATE (11/20/23): The quick omakase lunch restarted on November 20 and will continue on weekdays at least through the end of the year. A dinner version is coming soon.

The pop-up omakase has just eight seats. No reservations are needed, just show up weekdays between 11 AM and 3 PM. Uchi individually presents each piece of nigiri—from flounder with lime zest to fatty tuna—in a procession that lasts about 30 minutes. “I’m not lowering the quality of the fish compared to what I used to use at Sushi Nakazawa,” Uchi says of the Waldorf Astoria (formerly Trump hotel) restaurant, which offers an $180 omakase. “Almost everything is the same—the sourcing and the quality. I have a good relationship with Japanese fish buyers.” Even the miso soup isn’t your run-of-the-mill version either; Uchi gives it extra richness with his own salmon stock.

The quick omakase will continue through this week, but the exact end date will depend on the opening of Casa Teresa. Even though the pop-up hasn’t lasted long, it’s already got some devoted regulars. When I visited, the guy next to me told me he’d already been 10 times.

Kiyomi Sushi’s pop-up has just eight seats, available first come, first served. Photograph by Jessica Sidman.

Unfortunately, Uchi says he does not plan to offer the quick omakase in Kyomi’s permanent space at the Square. But he’ll sell the same quality sushi in sets, available for takeout, with options for luxe ingredients like caviar and truffles. The menu will also include traditional rolls and sashimi as well as hot dishes such as wagyu sandwiches or grilled fish sets.

Uchi says Square founders Richie Brandenburg and Ruben Garcia first approached him about joining their venture in 2019 when he was still at Sushi Nakazawa. At the time, he told them no—he was more interested in high-end dining. But after temporarily losing his job during Covid lockdowns, Uchi says he began to look into opening his own restaurant.

Uchi visited around 20 locations for his own upscale omakase spot but struggled to find a landlord who would take a chance on him given his lack of history as a business owner. Meanwhile, he recently became a parent, making a mostly daytime business at the Square more appealing. He describes Kiyomi Sushi, named after his sister who lives in Japan, as “fancy casual.”

Uchi, however, is still working on plans to eventually open his own fine-dining spot. He’s found partners who are interested in opening an intimate sushi restaurant and Japanese cocktail bar that might serve only 16 people a night.

Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.