Sushi Taro

Okay! I’m going to start posting some of my restaurant pics from 2010 that I never got around to, so do bear with me as I bumble through with my faded memories. A few months ago, I finally got around to trying Sushi Taro in Dupont Circle. I know it’s been a while since they changed over their interior design and menu concept, but I hadn’t actually dined there since the switch. I was really curious to see how they would fare, since I’d heard quite a few mixed reviews. I personally loved the former Sushi Taro, so I was a bit sad that they’d changed, but still hopeful that their new menu would delight.

I walked in and the interior was remarkably different from before. The former homey look with the tatami mats was gone, replaced by a very natural, wooden design with a fresh and modern feel. I liked it, actually! And it was well lit, which isn’t something you can say for a lot of restaurants in DC. (And this is one of my pet peeves…why so dark, DC restaurants? I’d like to see my food too!)

You can order from the menu or ask for the omakase kaiseki-style tasting menu for $80. (You can get it with the wine (sake?) pairing $138). Kaiseki is traditionally a seasonal meal, so this particular menu – from October – reflected what was fresh from the market at the time. If they’re doing it right, you won’t see the same menu now if you stop in for their kaiseki. By the way, if you get the tasting menu on a Tuesday, you get a free bottle of Sushi Taro sake (normally $30), which is what we did!

Pictured above is actually the second course – the “signature dish” of goma (sesame) tofu with uni (sea urchin). I love fresh tofu. I’m used to the grocery store kind, but a homemade tofu is creamy and delicious in ways that you could never imagine tofu could taste like. Apparently my mom used to make tofu fresh, back when I was a kid and you couldn’t just go to the supermarket for a ready-made block of this stuff.

The rest of the meal under the cut!


The first course (apertif), fig wine. A refreshing palate cleanser to start! Love how elegant this looked.

Third course (oshinogi, the rice dish) is matsutake rice with blue crab. Matsutake is my favorite mushroom ever. (It’s also extremely expensive to get any of this stuff fresh). I love matsutake infused rice! It’s got that earthy and savory flavor that I adore and it makes my mouth water just thinking about it. I think this was a pretty great dish, though perhaps the matsutake could’ve been a bit more aromatic.

Fourth course (sashimi) was as you see, a platter of fresh raw fish. You can supplement with “premium” sashimi for an extra $15, but we didn’t do that.

The fifth course (soup) came in this adorable teapot with a cup. You pour the broth into the cup, and sip on that while picking out the meaty bits from the teapot with your chopsticks. This is a style of service called “dobin mushi,” which means it’s steam boiled in an earthenware pot. They served soup like this back before the switch over, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. This one was a hamo (conger pike) and matsutake mushroom. Delicious! Loved the squeeze of lime for a bright acidity.

Here’s the inside of the pot.

Sixth course (hassun) was this awesome platter of seasonal goodies. I don’t even remember most of what was there, but rest assured that it was all amazing. (I should’ve taken notes, but ah…I was too busy STUFFING MY FACE).

Seventh course (yakimono) was a sanma pike mackerel, prepared in a “houraku-yaki” manner. Which I believe refers to the vessel it’s cooked it. It’s a bit hard to see it from this photo, but it’s a lidded pot that had a block of salt with what looked like dried buckwheat noodles.

By the way, I’m not sure why I keep shooting all these photos at weird angles. I’m probably trying to get as much of the dish in the frame as possible, but I think it’s a problem when I’m giving myself a cramp in my neck when I go through these in Photoshop. XD

Next up, eighth course (shabu shabu). Every one of us got our very own little pan of broth and fiery mini-stove to cook with. I love activity food! I usually think of beef and veggies for traditional shabu shabu, but this one was just for oysters.

Aren’t they gorgeous? Such pearly looking perfection! I almost didn’t want to cook them, because I prefer raw oysters, but i figured I should consume it the way the chef intended.

Another weird angle shot. You can see the dipping sauce, salt dip, and the little cute scoop used to sweep up the oysters.

Ninth course (sushi). You get a choice of 3 nigiri from a selected list, or for $10 extra, you can pick 5 from the entire nigiri menu.

Maki was another option, I think. But I don’t exactly remember if it replaced a nigiri..

For the tenth and final course (dessert), you got to choose from a selection of three: kuro goma (black sesame) ice cream, hoji-cha (roasted green tea) pudding, or locolat cake. I got the tea pudding, pictured here. Fabulous! Not too sweet, and I do love tea flavored desserts. It was a nice touch to use houji tea instead of the traditional green.

Here’s the black sesame ice cream. It tends to taste like peanut butter, but less sweet. I like it.

In all, this was a fabulous meal! I don’t remember too much about my kaiseki meal at Makoto, but I remember being less than impressed by that one. This was also miles above the dinner I’d had earlier that month right next door at the famed and totally overpriced Komi. (I won’t be doing a post on Komi – chiefly because they don’t allow you to take pictures!) I would love to go back for another kaiseki meal, winter version. X)

as between sushi taro or kushi, which would you pick, to take someone who was visiting dc?

Hey Chris!

Wow, sorry for the late reply! I didn’t even see this until now. To answer your question, it depends on your budget! Sushi Taro is a lot pricier than Kushi, and is much classier establishment. Kushi is more casual in both decor and cuisine. I don’t know much about Kushi though, since I’ve only been there once (opening week, and I wasn’t impressed). If you want to take someone for casual Japanese pub experience, take them to Izakaya Seki. ;)

 

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