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Sushi Gakyu Serves Up Rare Sakes, Chef-Guided Tastings

The upscale sushi restaurant opens June 27

Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

Veteran sushi chef and restaurateur Yoshihisa "Yoshi" Ota is courting the downtown crowd with Sushi Gakyu, the high-end restaurant opening Tuesday just steps from the White House. Ota, who has 30 years of sushi-making experience under his belt, plans to guide customers through sushi tastings and sake pairings at the 67-seat spot.

The sleek space features wood seating, glossy tiling, and black paneling, with an industrial look hovering above. Management says the restaurant plans to transition from informal lunch spot into formal dinner destination as the day progresses.

“We want day time to be a bit more casual and at night to be sit-down and nicer,” general manager Toshikazu Morimura told Eater.

Customers can saddle up to its lengthy wraparound white sushi bar to feast on omakase-style meals, which require reservations and include offerings like omakase nigiri ($50) and a seasonal selections (think: exotic fugu for $200). Sashimi plates range from $28 to $70, while six-piece rolls run $4.50 to $15. There are also $25 box meals, with eel or sashimi topped on a bed of rice. Starters include scallop carpaccio and salmon ceviche.

An assortment of Ota’s sushi.
An assortment of Ota’s sushi.
[Warren Rojas]

Ota, who is also the driving force behind Yuzu in Bethesda, Maryland, and was one of the founders of the since-shuttered Kushi Izakaya, also wants to share the breadth of his knowledge about rice wine (he’s a kikisake-shi, or sake sommelier).

The new arrival’s collection of rare and pricey sakes could make Sushi Gakyu the next hot spot for deal-making. A drink menu with further details was not available at a preview party on Monday.

Status: Certified open. 1420 New York Avenue NW; website.