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Fearless Critic restaurant review
DC
Food
Feel
Price
8.4
7.5
$35
Japanese
Casual restaurant

Hours
Mon–Thu 11:30am–2:30pm
Mon–Thu 5:30pm–10:30pm
Fri 11:30am–2:30pm
Fri 5:30pm–11:00pm
Sat 5:30pm–11:00pm

Features Kid-friendly, outdoor dining, veg-friendly
Bar Beer, wine, liquor
Credit cards Visa, MC, AmEx
Reservations Accepted

Dupont
2026 P St. NW
Washington, DC
(202) 887-0900
Sakana
Fresh fish finds you snug as sardines in a tin can

Every neighborhood needs—or at least covets—a decent, moderately priced, intimate sushi bar. Sakana satisfies that wish—especially the part about intimacy, with tightly squeezed tables that make it easy (and almost inevitable) to strike up a conversation with the couple or group sitting next to you. No pretentious artifacts adorn this restaurant, but a few choice outdoor tables provide the opportunity for a relaxed Dupont Circle dining experience.

Sakana has none of those new-age trendy maki—you won’t find mango, micro-cilantro, or green-apple jelly here. Instead, you’ll find fresh fish (ask the sushi chefs what’s freshest) atop expertly vinegared sushi rice. We’ve been equally impressed by the basics—yellowtail, scallop, fluke—and by the flopping-fresh prestige items like sea urchin and fatty tuna.

On the other hand, miso soup, usually a shoo-in at Japanese restaurants, is a bit disappointing at Sakana. The cubes of tofu, which should be silken and smooth, are distractingly firm. The vegetable-and-shrimp tempura appetizer, crispy and not too greasy, sports a gratifying crop of vegetables: crunchy green beans and broccoli, thin slices of Japanese eggplant, sweet tender shrimp. We’ve also enjoyed eel and egg over rice. Sweet, warm, creamy, and salty, it’s Japanese comfort food at its best.

Most notable about Sakana, perhaps, are its cheap prices and quick (but not pushy) service. The table of Japanese businessmen sitting in a back table sipping green tea and eating vast quantities of sushi, sashimi, and hot Japanese dishes on our last visit was a sign that the place has been discovered in some circles, anyway; but, in general, we’re baffled by how this place has remained mostly unknown, while neighbors like Sushi Taro (under renovation at press time) have gained such renown. Maybe Sakana just isn’t good at self-promotion—which is a good thing for your wallet.

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