Washington's first sushi restaurant may not be much to look at, but this dimly lit hole in the wall with its bare-bones décor has been packing in crowds for three decades. The menu here adheres to a principle of extreme simplicity: elegant, stripped-down slices of gorgeously fresh fish, accompanied by the tiniest of details—a dot of beluga caviar here, a shaving of lemon there—are meant to highlight the moment when sushi meets tongue, with no distractions. The unobtrusive service and a chatty, casual crowd make it easy to overlook your surroundings and focus instead on the glistening, jewel-tone sashimi moriawase in front of you.
Tip: The 16 seats at the sushi bar afford instant entertainment: the friendly chefs slice fish, primp rolls, and grind fresh wasabi on a wooden grater, while you sip your sake and watch the show.
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Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.