Sunday, August 9, 2009


In this installment of The Great DC Sushi Restaurant Hunt 2009, we take you to Kotobuki in the Palisades neighborhood. (To read our musings on other good and not-so-good sushi options in DC, see our posts on Kyoto Sushi, Momoyama, and Sushi Taro) If you don't have a car (and haven't done the Avon Walk), you've probably never been to the Palisades. It's tucked away past Georgetown along the Potomac River and is not metro accessible. The main drag, MacArthur Boulevard is lined with shops and restaurants. Kotobuki is tucked upstairs in a two story brick building with the fancier Makoto japanese restaurant occupying space at the ground level (can't wait to try Makoto one of these days).

Kotobuki is tiny, with probably a dozen tables and a fairly small sushi bar. You're likely to be greeted warmly by the sushi chefs and hear Beatles tunes playing on loop in the background. I don't get it, but I like it.

The atmosphere is cute and the prices are very reasonable, so is the sushi worth the trek to the no man's land that is the Palisades? We think so.

B ordered an assortment of sashimi, nigiri, and sushi rolls to truly test drive Kotobuki's sushi menu. I had a few nibbles off of his plate and the fish melted in my mouth. The slices of fish were thick and delicious.

I, on the other hand, strayed from the sushi menu and ordered the Kamameshi Set, which is meat (chicken, in my case) cooked with vegetables in a traditional iron kettle and served with 4 "house special dishes" and miso soup. The special dishes consisted of pickled veggies and fat slices of sashimi.

I chose the Kamameshi because I'd never seen it on a menu before and was intrigued. I know this looks like worms in a bowl but it isn't . . . I promise. The rice continued to cook in the iron kettle as I ate so that it was nice and crispy by the time I got to the bottom of the dish. It was very similar to Korean bi bim bap but lacked that fiery kick that is common in Korean cooking. The chicken was tasty, but I think the dish would be improved by using larger chunks of chicken rather than the ground chicken you see below. This dish was priced at $17 but it included a ton of food: soup, sides, and a pot of filling (and tummy warming) chicken, rice, and veggies. If you're really hungry and not in a sushi mood, you won't go wrong with the Kamameshi.

Whether you're in the neighborhood or just in need of a Beatles and sushi fix, Kotobuki is worth a stop. This place is what Sushi Taro was before it got smacked with the uppity stick. Thank goodness we found you Kotobuki.

Second Thoughts from B

Three things stick out about Kotobuki and one, unfortunately, is the location. Not only is it not near any place we would normally go but it is so off the beaten path that you forget it is there. In fact, I was first introduced to this wonderful sushi hole-in-the-wall three years ago. It took this long for me to venture back, and as anyone who reads our blog knows, we're not exactly blown away by the more location-friendly sushi options in town.

The other notable elements are the generous helpings of quality fish that were featured in the sashimi and nigiri, as well as the overall quality and execution of all the sushi. To sum up, this is the best sushi I've had in DC (as far as the small and affordable category goes anyway) and I won't be making the mistake of forgetting about it when I get my next craving.
Kotobuki on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

Karena said...

I absolutely love Kotobuki, but agree that it's location isn't so great. Makoto is fantastic - totally different experience...the Beatles were definitely absent ;). I've always been curious about the Kamameshi. We usually make the trek to Kotobuki whenever I have a sushi craving so I feel weird straying. Might have to try it next time :)