The Michelle and Obama Rolls
Walking into the restaurant it was hard not to notice flyers tacked all over the walls denoting the Inauguration specials. What kind of sushi would appropriately reflect the history of Barack Obama's election to the White House? We dug deeper into the menu and noticed that there were three rolls being offered in honor of Inauguration Day: the Barack, the Michelle, and the Obama roll.
Malia and I decided upon the Obama - yellow-tail with tempura asparagus, topped with tuna. We couldn't leave Michelle out, so we ordered up a roll named in her honor - a generous filling of avocado, spicy tuna, cucumber topped with salmon. Oh yeah that Michelle is a spicy one!
Sushi chefs working their magic.
While we waited a good twenty minutes for our food to arrive, we sipped on some hot tea and took in the view of the sushi bar, highlighted nicely with some festive lights and pointsetta plants. The restaurant is divided up into sections with your typical bamboo screens. The place was warm and inviting. Arriving around 6:30, we were able to just beat the crowd that began to form.
Miso and salad.
The wait staff brought out our tea, soup, and salad rather quickly. They must have known how long we would have to wait for our rolls to arrive. The miso was nice, generally what you would expect at most japanese restaurants, but with lots of fresh scallions which added a nice crunch and zest to the broth. The salads that typically come with sushi are generally quite boring, iceburg with carrots and dressing. However, at my favorite sushi place in Vienna, Yama, the dressing is a lovely combination of ginger, sesame, and peanut flavors. The dressing at Sushi-zen paled in comparison, essentially a watered down thousand island. Do yourself a favor and skip the salad.
While discussing the expected chaos that is to arrive in DC and VA this weekend, our rolls were placed on our table. Finally we could eat! The service was slow, but the sushi was very good. The Obama won the taste test. The subtle flavor and buttery texture of the tuna contrasted nicely with the crunchy tempura vegetable. These clean flavors kept us coming back for more. The Michelle offers a spicy tuna without the company of its usual mayonaise or cream cheese partners, something to be appreciated. The avocado stood in as a nice substitute, offering the same rich texture, with a fresher and lighter flavor. The smoked salmon provided beautiful color and contrast to the spicy tuna. These pairings did not provide much textural contrast, however. The tuna, avocado, and salmon were extremely smooth and buttery, often making it a little hard to chew without everything slipping all over the place. The tuna could have been a little spicier, especially with the presence of the avocado to balance out the heat.
Our bill worked out to $17 a person for tea, soup, salad, and specialty roll. Not incredibly cheap, but not a bad deal. This place would definitely be ideal to visit with a group. Sushi-zen offers a number of platters to be shared, which can cut down on costs. There are also a number of coupons offered on their website.
Except for the service, I was rather delighted by my experience. It is nice to find a sushi place in Arlington that can be counted on for great quality and atmosphere.
1.5 out of 3 JAMs
2457 N. Harrison Street
Arlington, VA 22207