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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Casual restaurant

Mon–Fri 11:30am–3:00pm
Mon–Fri 5:00pm–9:30pm
Sat 4:00pm–10:00pm

Bar None
Credit cards Visa, MC
Reservations Accepted

Capitol Hill
201 Massachusetts Ave. NE
Washington, DC
(202) 546-2597
Big fish in a tiny little pond

This tiny sushi restaurant just north of the capitol packs in a staggering array of menu options: if you actually decided to read the menu before ordering, you (and everyone behind you in line) could easily be there all day. Not only are there more than two dozen special rolls in addition to all of the “ordinary” combinations and plain nigiri, but Kyoto also boasts a long list of appetizers and tempura specialties from which to choose. If that weren’t enough to satisfy the choosiest chooser, he might check the teriyaki, yaki soba, and donburi (rice bowl) specials, each of which is served with a side of vegetables and/or a staid lettuce salad.

Lest we forget, there’s also an eight-item series of sushi and sashimi specials—essentially pre-arranged sets of rolls and nigiri. And if this summary alone has left you winded, you might simply try the “Kyoto $7 Maniac Lunch Special”—advertised in big letters above the cashier—which changes daily but usually involves teriyaki, and includes a number of sides, and a 20-ounce soda.

Walking into Kyoto feels something like walking into a doll house. The restaurant is located up a set of iron stairs in the front room of a Capitol Hill rowhouse. A few high tables are nested into a miniature back room, while in front the sushi bar is too close to the opposite wall to allow for any stools. Instead, there are three small tables so close to the bar that the chef may as well throw his creations over the counter to his hungry patrons. A single waitress scurries about to dispense with this potential informality.

Luckily, the atmosphere at Kyoto is merry. The sushi is good, although it won’t knock your socks off. Most rolls are large, and the proportions seem even more out of sync given the size of the place: a single Rainbow roll, for example, is coated with big slabs of tuna, salmon, and mackerel, and is almost enough to be a meal in itself (it’s also topped with a smattering of roe: a nice touch). Kyoto’s tempura is delicate, and the deep-fried salmon is unusually good. In keeping with the miniaturized atmosphere, prices shrink as the sun goes down: Kyoto flaunts a 99¢ sushi happy hour. Now that’s a happy hour indeed.

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