Thursday, August 19, 2010

Review: Restaurant Week!!! Sushi Taro

UPDATE: wrote a review on Sushi Taro as well, and they get more gourmand-y in their descriptions than I do. If you want some pictures and a description of dinner, here's the link:

It is that bi-annual time of year again: Restaurant Week! For one whole week participating restaurants in DC offer three-course prix fixe menus for $20 at lunch and $35 at dinner. My favorite event in DC. EVER.

This is my third year so there's the "tried and true" restaurants I've added into the mix of new places I'm trying out. Sushi Taro is one I haven't been before, and that's because they're always booked. Sushi Taro has a reputation for being a high-quality, highly-traditional sushi place. If you want to do a tasting at the bar, it's a $120.00 minimum order with reservations required. So you can imagine how people jump at the chance to try the basics for only $20 or $35. Luckily the horrific hot weather actually worked in my benefit this time, cutting down the number of diners willing to go outside in the middle of the day. I snagged a spot for lunch yesterday for myself and two of my girlfriends.

The food
Two of us ordered the restaurant week menu and the other ordered a fried chicken bento box.

The bento box: sashimi, tempura, and fried chicken; side of rice and miso soup. The sashimi was high quality, and the rice, soup, and tempura were normal. I loved the chicken. I loved it. If I wasn't stuffed, I would have eaten the whole thing. There's a caveat - it's dark meat. A lot of Americans hate the dark meat on the chicken and my friend is one such American (which means I got to try a piece she didn't want). However, if you like dark meat, that is one quality piece of chicken. Yum yum.

The restaurant week menu
First course: Three Box Tasting
1st Box: Sashimi
High quality fish but it didn't come with rice, which is highly unusual. I wasn't willing to pay extra for a bowl of rice so I eventually got overwhelmed by fishiness...

2nd box: Chikuzen-ni, grilled salmon, omelette
The grilled salmon and omelette (Tomago) were normal. The Chikuzen-ni was really good (but again, dark meat so not everyone is a fan). Chikuzen-ni is traditionally made with different vegetables and roots, and some of those were included in the box. I took an adventurous taste of Konjac gel, a thick gelatin made from Konjac (look it up on Wikipedia, the first picture of a gray slab with black dots on the left is what I ate). It is not to my liking.

3rd box: Shrimp and veggie tempura

Second Course: Sushi
Tuna, salmon, shrimp, eel, yellowtail, flounder
Salmon & avocado roll
I had never had flounder before and I've decided I'm not a fan. Not really a reflection on the quality of the fish. I liked the eel, shrimp, and salmon and avocado roll. The sushi was all very good and high quality but I was way too stuffed to finish it. I ended up sending most of it to my friend's office to share with her co-workers.

Third Course: Ice Cream
You could choose green tea or mango ice cream. We ended up with one of each. The green tea tasted exactly like the unsweetened powdered green tea you buy in Asian speciality stores and was practically rock hard. If you like the green tea or don't have a big sweet tooth, you'd probably like it. The mango was fantastic.

The Service
The service was ok. The server seemed like she was irritated by something else (not us) but was trying not to let us know that, but then it came across anyway, which made it extremely awkward. I also ordered green tea ice cream and got mango, but I'm not complaining after seeing the green tea.

If you want really high-quality sushi, this is the place to go. It's more expensive than your average sushi place, but afterall, you pay more for the good stuff. Their other dishes are all traditional, which I greatly appreciate. I'm tired of "Japanese" restaurants serving "Philly rolls," sickly sweet teriyaki chicken and other Americanized dishes. If I wanted that, I'd go to a fusion restaurant. However, some of their dishes were totally average, like the edamame and tempura. Do you really want to pay $6 for an average plate of edamame?

The service was strange but I want to say it was probably just an off-day for that particular server. I'm not holding that against them.

Rating: 7/10

Sushi Taro
1503 17th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036, USA
TEL : 202-462-8999

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