We have wanted to visit this Alexandria restaurant since it opened, and never clicked until tonight. The owners kicked up a dust storm of controversy by announcing it would be adults only, 18-over, which in Del Ray is a sign of hostility to all the young families. But really, would a 8-year-old really appreciate tuna with jalapeno slices?
Anyway. I've eaten sushi and sashimi from New York to Los Angeles and Tokyo -- and even the famous Nobu at its Dubai branch.
From what we ate, The Sushi Bar stacks up pretty well. We wandered in at 6:15 so decided to take advantage of their happy hour specials. Kirins for $3, something called a sake bomb for $6. During happy hour, their "classic" sushi goes for $4. Can't beat that, so my husband ordered a bunch of different dishes, with 5 pieces each. I actually prefer traditional sushi and sashimi, rather than the weird Americanized volcano and dragon rolls, so this was fine by me.
Standouts: The spicy crab roll, up-sold with Maryland lump crab, rolled in crunchy beet-stained panko crumbs. Excellent. You can't beat our Maryland crab! Yellowtail tuna topped with thin slices of jalapeno. Wonderful crunch with the tuna, then the mild chili spice kicks in. Eel cucumber roll with black sesame seeds -- interesting. The rest was garden variety, but good. The only thing I actively disliked was the smoked salmon/cream cheese roll -- the cream cheese overwhelmed the fish and left a tacky taste in the mouth. Japanese meets Jewish bagel and lox.
Since we were sitting at the bar, it was fun to talk to the staff about the food. But I wish the service had been more drawn out. Dishes were piling up in front of us. I like to savor sushi, one bite at a time.
All told, we had 11 orders, and edamame, plus 2 drinks each. Tab including tip $90.
By comparison, the bill at Nobu with about half as much food, was $275. Nobu had its moments but celebrity's got nothing on good quality and service. I imagine if we came for dinner service, the bill would range upward of $125-$150. I can't vouch for their "signature rolls," which are those oddball things like kamikazi roll and crazy monkey roll, which have ingredients (mayonnaise! cream cheese!) that the Japanese would commit harakiri over. Americans: don't bastardize real-deal Japanese food.
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