After a three-month hiatus, Japanese lounge Tokyo Pearl reopens in Dupont today with an expanded patio, an outdoor bar, and a new menu that offers the type of upscale sushi served at Latin-Asian sister spot Sakerum.
Tokyo Pearl opened about a year ago with fast-casual bento boxes and a happy hour that would cater to the 9-to-5 crowd. With many offices still closed during he coronavirus crisis, the venue has adapted and turned its focus to dinner only.
Sakerum chef Munkhtulga Mungunkhuu took over the menu at Tokyo Pearl (1301 Connecticut Avenue NW). A person familiar with Sakerum’s plans says the 14th Street NW sushi bar has struggled to receive rent relief from its landlord during the pandemic and is weighing options for a potential exit from the two-level space, which added a rooftop Greek restaurant last fall.
Tokyo Pearl, reopening at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 24, will eschew a walk-up ordering window in favor of sit-down service. A former grab-and-go area now acts as a nighttime sushi station where Mungunkhuu slices nigiri, preps fried dumplings, and makes eight signature rolls to start. Wasabi and soy sauce arrives at the table in packets, and disposable wooden chopsticks are also wrapped up.
The graffiti-lined lounge will host diners inside in line with D.C.’s current half-capacity restrictions for dining rooms.. Once D.C. enters its Phase 3 reopening plan, which lightens restrictions for nightclubs, the LED-lit space will flip back into a hookah bar with regular DJ sets blasted on its high-end sound system.
The flower-filled patio has added outdoor real estate from its future next-door neighbor, Tatte Bakery. Slick turquoise benches and swinging bucket chairs add a couple dozen seats.
An outdoor bar slings frozen drinks, nine types of sake, and Japanese beers. The refreshed cocktail menu replaces spiked boba teas with cocktails like a bourbon and maple syrup-based “Highway to Hell.” Plans to install a retractable awning in the fall will allow the outdoor space to operate all year.
Happy hour will run weekdays from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. with $1 sushi options. Tokyo Pearl will open Monday to Wednesday from 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Closing time is 11 p.m. on Thursday and midnight on Friday. Saturday hours are 5 p.m. to midnight. Sundays run from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Weekend brunch will debut in two weeks.
Here’s a look at Tokyo Pearl’s new menus: