Turning Japanese

Tiny orbs of orange salmon roe exploding in your mouth like tiny firecrackers… delicate slabs of sea urchin (uni) melting away on your tongue, so sweet and creamy, they belong on an ice cream cone… rare and precious horse mackerel magically appearing on your sushi sampler, making you feel like some sort of dignitary… you close your eyes and chew slowly, tasting the incredibly fresh, salty richness. You think, This is the very taste of the sea

Hey, this ain’t so so bad for a Monday night!

Okay, so maybe I’m going  a little overboard. But guys, I’m tellin’ ya, Kushi Izakaya & Sushi (at CityVista 465 K St NW, Washington, DC 20001, 202.682.3123) really is something to write home about. I was joined by my handsome and intelligent friend Yoshi, and since he was born in Japan, I was extra-thrilled to benefit from his extensive food knowledge. We began with the spectacular Chef’s Sashimi Choice ($40, pictured above), which is  a sampling of 8 types of fish, two pieces each (we received three pieces of most), including the aforementioned delights as well as otoro (extra-fatty tuna), shrimp, salmon, and more.

We moved onto a couple of Kobacki (small plates) including some cherrystone clams (pictured left), and the beloved subject of many of our conversations, pork belly. If you’re not familiar with pork belly, it’s basically a bacon steak. What could possibly go wrong? (In fact, the other night, Yoshi and I had a long conversation about pork belly via text message, in which we even traded several pictures. I may have met my foodie match with this guy!) Anyway, the pork belly was braised in a Japanese-syle in broth with a bit of okra and carrot, and was served with a smear of beautiful mustard. It was meltingly tender, fatty, and delicious, as pork belly should be.

Next we sampled a few offerings from the grill. Kushi grills in two styles: Kushiyaki (wood grill), and Robata (charcoal grill).

The Kushiyaki (pictured above) comes in small 2.5-ounce portions ($3 – 10), perfect for sharing and tasting. We tried the (right to left) pork belly (of course), chicken thigh, chicken liver (with a sweet and crunchy grill flavor on the outside, and a rich, dense texture on the inside), chicken breast with plum sauce and shiso leaf, and asparagus wrapped in bacon. I know what you’re thinking: how much pork fat could we possibly cram into one dinner? After this night, I’m not sure if I’m going to the gym or to hell…