Food

The Best Sushi Omakase Restaurants Around DC

Where to find high-end and bargain sushi feasts.

Omakase seafood selection at Sushi Taro. Photograph by Scott Suchman .

Dear Sushi

200 Massachusetts Ave., NW

Chef Makoto Okuwa’s omakase menu is written like a love letter to sushi. Literally—it’s even got a red wax seal. The heart shows, beginning with seasonal snacks and a pair of hand rolls wrapped with extra-crackly nori shipped directly from Japan to the restaurant, which is inside the food hall Love, Makoto. Rounds of nigiri duel between “old school” (soy-marinated bluefin tuna) and “new school” (tuna with miso-marinated uni and eel sauce). In both cases, the accompaniments thoughtfully and subtly enhance each piece of fish. Fruit-shaped sweets are an endearing sign-off. Price: $85 with a “super-size it” add-on of four additional pieces for $35.

 

Kiyomi

1850 K St., NW

Sushi omakase experiences are some of the priciest meals around, but they don’t have to be. Former Sushi Nakazawa chef Masaaki “Uchi” Uchino offers a $40 lunch deal at the 12-seat counter of Kiyomi inside downtown DC’s Square food hall. The 30-minute procession includes seven pieces of nigiri­–from flounder with lime zest to fatty tuna–a hand roll, and miso soup enriched by salmon stock. A more leisurely 15 courses is available at dinner. The quality of fish matches that of other top spots: Uchino sources from the same seafood purveyors he did at Nakazawa, where the omakase costs far more. Price: $40 at lunch; $100 at dinner. 

 

Omakase @ Barracks Row

522 8th St., SE

Chef Ricky Wang, an alum of Sushi Nakazawa and Minibar, presides over this elegant 18-seat marble tasting counter above Capitol Hill’s Han Palace. The 21-course omakase includes a couple of seasonal prepared dishes, like local tempura-fried soft-shell crab, but the focus is on the thoughtfully sourced premium fish elevated into top-tier nigiri. Scallops, submerged off the coast of Hokkaido less than 48 hours prior, are paired with a kumquat-kosho that’s aged for two months. Unicorn fish is magical with a sauce of its own liver. But a particular delight is the mackerel—not fishy at all—which you’re instructed to eat immediately so the warmth of your mouth melts the fat. The staff provides more narration than you’ll find at other omakase spots, for those who want to know the seasonal differences in yellowtail or preparation of the conger sea eel. Price: $180. 

 

Sushi Nakazawa

1100 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

Reserve a spot at the ten-seat sushi counter instead of in the dining room at this omakase den in the back of the Waldorf Astoria. The care and craft behind every sliver of fish and grain of perfectly seasoned rice deserves a front-row seat. Nigiri purists will find a procession of 20 bites highlighting premium seafood from around the world—hay-smoked Scottish trout, Hokkaido scallop with a touch of yuzu-kosho heat, and Maryland blue crab with a sauce of its own innards. Celebratory budgets can indulge in an expansive list of sakes, Champagnes, and Burgundies. Price: $190 at the sushi counter; $160 in the dining room. 

 

Sushi Snob

1721 M St., NW

This unassuming downtown spot offers quick sushi rolls and casual Japanese meals for office workers, but it’s also home to one of DC’s most underrated and under-the-radar omakase counters. Javkhlan “Jango” Enkhtaivan has been on the scene off and on for 18 years as a sushi chef at Sei, Nobu, the Hamilton, and elsewhere before opening his own place in 2019. He’s currently offering a quick omakase during weekday lunch with 10 to 12 pieces of nigiri for a bargain $40 as well as an extended dinner omakase with 12 to 15 pieces every other Friday. (Expanded hours and online reservations are coming this fall.) We love unexpected bites like yellowtail with jalapeno salsa or tuna marinated in red wine instead of sake, but you can follow Sushi Snob on Instagram to see some of Enkhtaivan’s latest procurements from the fish markets of Japan and beyond. Price: $40 at lunch; $85 or $110 for premium omakase at dinner. 

 

Sushi Taro Omakase Room

1503 17th St., NW

Sushi omakase experiences are booming in DC, but this one remains unmatched. Tucked away in a private room inside the veteran restaurant, the intimate counter seats just two parties per night, each with their own dedicated sushi master. Rare ingredients—live in-the-shell Hokkaido uni, sunfish stomach—are highlighted in a series of raw and cooked plates, but the main attraction is a collection of lacquered boxes filled with goodies from the sea. You get to choose whatever and as much as you like, but trust your chef to showcase peak-season catches. Price: $275 or $350 for premium omakase. 

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.