Tucked inside the tony mixed-use cluster of Cady’s Alley, the striking sushi cave from executive chef Saran “Peter” Kannasute and co-owner Jeff King breathes fresh life into the old home of L2 lounge (3315 Cady’s Alley NW, Suite B). Dinner service runs Wednesdays to Sundays to start.
At 5-year-old Yume, Kannasute experiments with bold flavors like lavender-smoked salmon behind a sleek sushi counter. His calling cards like truffle wasabi, monkfish liver, uni with torched wagyu, and widespread use of edible flowers make their way to Georgetown, with non-traditional Japanese dishes designed to be as delicious as they are gorgeous to look at.
A full kitchen with a hood gives the Bangkok-born chef more room to build upon his boundary-pushing menus and unleash hot izakaya offerings for the first time. Miso soup is taken a step further here, with the option to add lump crab meat, scallops, or a kick from chili yuzu in each bowl. Lobster, wagyu beef, and Spanish Iberico ham combine in the same steamed dumpling for one fancy surf-and-turf order of gyoza. Thick orbs of crispy calamari with homemade orange sauce is another standout starter out of the gate. And an abundant array of steamed Asari baby clams from Japan meet up in a buttery miso-garlic broth swimming with sake, chili yuzu, and scallions.
The nucleus of the menu is a vast sushi section running 30 rolls deep, which includes namesake orders for each owner (the “Peter” showcases the chef’s preferred combo of carpaccio, shrimp tempura, spicy and seared tuna, cucumber, and eel sauce). Perhaps the most baller of the bunch is an uni-topped A5 wagyu roll loaded with lump crab, avocado, cucumber, truffle wasabi, French caviar, black pepper sauce, white truffle oil, and black bamboo and red sea salts.
Composed entrees also integrate luxe ingredients like caviar and 24-karat gold, as seen in toro tartare and squid ink pasta delivered with dollops of uni.
Unexpected cocktails keep Kannasute’s menu in mind. The beverage program is manned by the acclaimed bar team at Capo Deli’s beloved speakeasy in Shaw, where Kyojin co-owner King is a regular. A well-executed oat milk espresso martini, shaken with vodka or tequila, gets an extra boost of booze from brandy and coffee liqueur. Rice shochu and matcha also play nicely in one green coupe. The tequila-and-tamarind Cruisin’ Ha Long cocktail, served on the rocks, brings the heat with Thai chili.
The bar is also stocked with a curated selection of cold sakes brewed in Japan. Various sizes swing from accessible ($25), like a lesser-sweet Shirakabegura Tokubetsu Junmai, to excessive ($500) for Nishide Shuzo’s 100-year Junmai Daiginjo presented in a painted porcelain bottle.
Like Yume, Kannasute flies in fresh fish overnight from purveyors in Japan and around the world to slice the seafood the day it’s served.
“We plan our menu daily based on what’s available from our suppliers,” says Kannasute. “So we won’t shy away from ordering the only bluefin tuna available that day.”
Catch-of-the-day assorted sashimi and a rotating Kyojin Roll showcase current deliveries. This week, Kannasute is pairing a plate of thinly sliced kanpachi (amberjack) next to a mound of finger lime “caviar.” Yuzu flan or a crunchy “bird’s nest” offset with honey ginger ice cream wrap the meal with a bow.
Kyojin, which means “giant” in Japanese, lives up to its name with room for 130 across a maze-like layout outfitted with intimate dining nooks, a small sake tasting counter, and long bar framed with gold hexagon tiles.
The 4,700-square-foot hidden gem off M Street NW got a luxe new look from Francois Frossard Design, the Miami-based studio behind South Beach nightclub Story and other high-profile hospitality projects from Paris to Dubai. Frossard, who’s also a partner on the project, spared no expense on the zen redesign. Kyojin retained the space’s original granite stone walls and flooring, but that’s about it.
It’s rare a new restaurant ends up looking just like its renderings, but this one actually does. Booths are lined with handmade kimonos from Japan, and the ruby-red robes adorned with dragons get wrapped around violet-velvet pillows to produce soft-and-silky seat backs. A repeated pattern of lacquered-green tubes sitting under the sushi station resemble bamboo stalks. A reservation-only omakase experience in the back, dubbed The Counter DC, will go live later.
Kyojin strives to be a scene-y hotspot on weekends, with late-night seatings (and DJs) Thursday through Saturday. Diners can expect to drop around $75 each for a la carte dinner, with cocktails ranging from $12 to $20. Hours are 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Wednesday and until 1 a.m. on Thursday and 2 a.m. on Friday; noon to 2 a.m. on Saturday; and noon to 11 p.m. on Sunday. Reserve a seat online.
And when one sushi door opens, another has closed; neighborhood stalwart Kintaro just wrapped up a 10-year run a block away.