We love getting feedback on our blog and our trip to Momoyama was a direct result of a comment left on our Kyoto Sushi post. The commenter recommended Momoyama as a reliable sushi destination. Good thing our car has GPS because the restaurant is tucked in this weird part of 2nd Street NW between I-395 and the D.C. federal courthouse.
The atmosphere is quaint and fairly standard for a Japanese restaurant. It's a very small space with a few tables and some stools at the sushi bar. The service was friendly and attentive. Our waitress asked B if he had a new haircut. Though we'd never been there before, I get the sense that this is the sort of place where everybody knows your name (or haircut?)
We started off with miso soup, edamame, and shumai soup. The miso soup was regular miso but the edamame stood out due to the sheer size of the portion. There were a ton of soybeans in that bowl! The shumai soup had a hearty and slightly sweet udon-like base with several shu mai (dumplings) floating around. While the shu mai weren't memorable, I really liked the broth and look forward to trying their udon noodle soup on our next visit.
We ordered an assortment of rolls and nigiri to see if Momoyama warmed our hearts and bellies as much as Kyoto did. On the plate: fatty tuna, salmon, yellow tail, lobster, Bulgogi Roll (grilled marinated beef, cucumber, special sauce), Geisha Roll (deep fried shrimp, cucumber, mayo, roe, spicy sauce), and the Momoyama Roll (tuna, salmon, avocado, scallion, roe). Not pictured: soft shell crab hand roll and spicy tuna hand roll.
We don't normally order hand rolls but I'm so glad we did. These were outstanding. They were filled with big chunks of spicy tuna and soft shell crab and had an interesting, sticky/crunchy/soft texture combination. The other rolls were just ok. The beef in the Bulgogi Roll was tough and overall, the rolls just lacked flavor. They weren't bad, but they just weren't interesting. It was hard to distinguish one from the next.
I want to give Momoyama another try because I really like the atmosphere and think the udon has potential. If you go, steer yourself toward the hand rolls and the nigiri and you're likely to leave very satisfied.
Second Thoughts from B
Talk about an insider area of the city! What looks like a meaningless alley that is spitting distance of the Capitol Dome opens up to 2 or 3 restaurants that seems to only be known to Congressional staffers. The favorite among this crowd of 22 year olds in poorly fitting Jos. A. Bank suits seems to be the bar next door, meaning that the unassuming sushi joint next door is an interesting and peaceful juxtaposition to the political chaos outside.
My thoughts on Momoyama can be summed up in a single word. Light. The sushi seems light on flavor (not always a bad thing as it allows the fish to be the star, but not always a good thing either) and the prices are relatively (for sushi) light on your wallet. Unfortunatley, the portions would also be categorized as light which is particularly noticeable when looking at the rice that coats the outside of the rolls. I'm not talking color, I'm talking size. And since I'm of the opinion that good rice is vital to good sushi, that was a bit of a disappointment.
As we said in our Kyoto post, we love small sushi restaurants like Momoyama. However, if given the choice between the two, Kyoto gets my vote, but Momoyama is still a strong candidate.