(Kushi Isakaya & Sushi via DC City Blog) – Opening today in Mt. Vernon Square, Kushi Izakaya & Sushi is Washington, DC’s first family-run Izakaya (Japanese Gastropub). Kushi is an energetic restaurant featuring a sushi bar run by one of Tokyo’s rising star sushi-chefs, a robata counter serving kushiyaki; skewers of meat, seafood and vegetables grilled over open charcoal pits, a fresh fish market and DC’s most comprehensive sake program.
The Kushi experience begins when guests pass underneath large linen noren to the soul of the restaurant, a 30 seat robata bar featuring an open charcoal fire pit. A meal at the robata bar begins with a steaming hot towel to cleanse the hands, followed by a seasonal amuse. True to the nature of an authentic Izakaya, the kushiyaki and robata menus are designed to offer mid-sized plates which can be ordered throughout the meal and pair well with Kushi’s beer, shochu and sake selections. Dishes such as Heritage Breed Chicken with Plum Paste, American Wagyu Short Ribs and Miso Marinated Octopus are prepared directly in front of diners. In the nearby sushi bar, delicate, fresh fish such as sea urchin, fresh horse mackerel and toro are expertly crafted. Kushi’s fish is sourced locally, as well as flown in twice per week from the Tokyo fish market. Diners looking to take home some of Kushi’s unique fish selections or observe the culinary team preparing the fish may do so in the open fish market, which will open in April 2010.
True to the nature of an authentic Izakaya, Kushi’s beverage program is comprehensive and features an extensive selection of sake and Japanese beers. Four Japanese beers are always available on draught and an additional selection of over eight Japanese and other beers rounds out the menu. The sake program is equally comprehensive with over 60 selections of hot and cold sake featuring filtered or unfiltered sake and small batch labels by the glass or bottle. Continuing the Izakaya authenticity is a vast selection of shochu as well as well-developed wine list. Kushi offers guests a lively, Tokyo influenced bar area well-stocked with welcoming experts to help navigate through the beverage selections.
Kushi is led by husband and wife team Darren Lee Norris and Ari Kushimoto Norris and incorporates the talents of several excellent chefs. Chef Norris was most recently the Executive Chef of Bethesda, MD based Ridgewells Caterers and previously held the position of Executive Chef at NYC’s China Grille. Ari is the previous Art Director for AOL and as an accomplished graphic artist will be managing Kushi’s interior design and marketing. Behind the sushi bar, diners will enjoy the talents of Sushi Chef Yoshihisa Ota. Ota is chef /owner of the highly-acclaimed Tokyo restaurant, Ginza Gakyu, and is a rising star on the Tokyo sushi scene. The Kushi/Ginza Gakyu partnership is the first and only edition of the Tokyo restaurant in the United States. Chef Ota aspires to bring a fresh new approach to sushi to Washington DC. Also hailing from Japan are washoku chefs Hironobu Higashijima and Munehiro Yonemoto. Enhancing the Kushi experience are Executive Sous Chef Peter Laufer, who most recently served as Executive Sous Chef at Ridgewells Caterers and has over 15 years of experience in global food services and artist Tom Flynn, Kushi’s Bar Manager.
Kushi is located in the new City Vista building 465 K Street, NW in Washington DC’s Mt. Vernon Neighborhood. “Most family-run Izakaya in Japan rely on neighborhood customers who dine two to three times per week. It was important to us to open in a tight-knit neighborhood,” notes Chef Norris. The 4,000 square foot space was designed by Bethesda, MD based Heiserman Group, a renowned architecture and branding firm. The design is Tokyo influenced and features reclaimed wood bar tops, large paper lanterns imported from Japan and 18-foot ceilings. Kushi’s website is www.eatkushi.com.