D.C. is home to a stellar cast of Japanese and sushi spots. But several restaurants that aren’t typically associated with raw fish happen to have surprise side menus and hidden counters centered around sushi.
Here are seven unlikely destinations for terrific rolls, sashimi, temaki, and omakase menus around D.C.
Royal Sands Social Club
26 N Street SE
Navy Yard’s huge watering hole that resembles a turquoise-tiled swimming pool also serves a short sushi menu inside. Co-owner and Florida native Fritz Brogan designed Royal Sands to feel like a Miami Beach club, where sushi is a popular poolside order. The menu carves out room for a half-dozen rolls alongside a list of ahi tuna nachos, tacos, and sandwiches like a Cubano. The “SS Navy Yard” ($39) packs three rolls and edamame into a sushi boat.
526 8th Street SE
Barracks Row’s new-ish karaoke lounge is now home to an omakase pop-up every Monday and Tuesday through May. The 18-course tasting menu is the brainchild of seasoned sushi chef Ricky Wang, who opened D.C.’s Michelin-rated Sushi Nakazawa. Omakase menus full of sushi, hand rolls, and other specialties preview what’s in store at his own forthcoming restaurant, Omakase @ Barracks Row, opening soon a few doors down. Seatings are at 5:15 p.m. and 7:45 p.m.
1823 L Street NW
Dupont’s popular Peruvian destination for ceviche and pisco sours unleashed a sushi menu for the first time in March. Rolls honor Japanese influences on the South American country and favorites from Peru, as seen in a lomo saltado roll (wok-seared tenderloin, soy and oyster sauce, queso fresco, panko breadcrumbs, shoestring potatoes, ají amarillo aioli). The debut sushi menu, available for dinner only, also includes a “Crocante De Camarón” roll (panko shrimp, quinoa, avocado, sweet chili-rocoto mayo) and “Furai” roll (salmon, avocado, cream cheese, panko breadcrumbs, lomo glaze).
1515 Rhode Island Avenue NW
The glamorous Darcy hotel restaurant that’s normally known for paratha tacos and Korean chicken wings just built out a new eight-seat sushi counter next to its cocktail bar. The glassy raw bar, open 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., sends out a la carte sashimi and rolls like “What a Match” (shrimp tempura, spicy tuna, avocado, and unagi sauce). Chef Kelly Suarez also prepares nine-course omakase dinners on Friday and Saturday nights ($90 per person). Reservations are on a first come, first served basis. The surprise seafood upgrade harkens back to the Logan Circle space’s days as Michelin-rated Siren.
2100 2nd Street SW
The huge grill in Buzzard Point opened in spring 2021 with lots of seafood, smoked ribs, and crab dip doughnuts. A few months later, the Southwest waterfront attraction introduced a sushi bar where fresh catches go under the knife a few nights a week. Its partnership with wholesale seafood distributor ProFish means prices stay relatively low (around $12 for rolls and $7 for salmon sashimi). The spicy tuna and spicy shrimp rolls have proven to be the most popular so far and bring the heat with fresh serrano peppers on top. Sushi is available on Wednesday to Sunday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
1050 31st Street NW
Wolfgang Puck protege Andrew Skala plates fancy steaks and local vegetables at Rosewood hotel’s lobby-level Cut. But it’s not widely known that he also shows off his unsuspecting sushi skills at its chic rooftop lounge. Cut Above’s menu centers around temaki (hand rolls) starring luxe ingredients like wagyu beef tartare, scallops, Maine lobster, and caviar add-ons.
600 14th Street NW
Clyde’s Restaurant Group’s perennially-packed downtown staple is all about American fare, but wander to the middle to find a standalone sushi bar that seats around 10. In Clyde’s fashion, the menu is huge with dozens of raw and cooked rolls to choose from. That leaves room for experimental orders like the District (tempura chicken, spicy kimchi, zucchini, and mumbo sauce). There’s also bento boxes and sushi platters to go along with a strong showing of Japanese whiskeys and sake. Rolls are pretty pricey here — some as high as $20 — so come during daily happy hour for $5 discounts (2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. to 1 a.m.).
1725 Desales Street NW
During its 12-year run in the heart of Chinatown, Sei was widely considered one of the top sushi and sashimi spots in town. The beloved brand now lives on inside French-themed Le DeSales, where Japanese sushi master “Noriaki” Yasutake sends out his greatest raw fish hits to go along with a solid list of sakes and Japanese whiskeys. Sei’s sushi also popped up alongside a French menu at U Street NW’s new Baby Shank.
The Toronto-born brand touched down in Bethesda in 2021 and figured out a way to squeeze sushi into its plant-based menu. Ahi watermelon is a fine stand-in for tuna for nigiri, while hearts of palm is disguised as crab. Tempura broccoli over shrimp works well in another roll, too. Order a sushi set to try a bunch at once.
5000 Seminary Road, Alexandria, Va.
Previously located in the hotel’s Finn & Porter restaurant, this retooled sushi counter now sits in the lobby next to the bar. The more visible setup continues to send out sashimi and sushi from its longtime chef Kim, along with a newly added ramen counter where guests can customize their own bowls.