Restaurant Week Miniseries, Part II: Kaz Sushi Bistro

This is the second installment of this week's three-part Restaurant Week miniseries. Yesterday, I discussed our experience for a birthday dinner party at Vinoteca off U Street in DC.

Part II, Kaz Sushi Bar

It takes a lot to get me to spend $20 for a lunch. Honestly, I'm a little surprised that Restaurant Week was able to. It was probably a combination of things. My coworker Steve had told me that Kaz Sushi was one of the best sushi places in the city. It's located at 19th and I St NW (right near work), so Becca and I decided to invite a few coworkers out for RW sushi at Kaz, since we normally had no excuse to go there. So four of us made a reservation for a Friday Kaz lunch and made the three-block journey under the sunny afternoon together in eager sushi anticipation.

I won't say much about the look, decor or service at Kaz, since I rarely do, and since it was adequate but not noteworthy. I will fill that space with a few notes about their regular menu. It was filled with very interesting combinations both in Maki rolls and in the Nigiri pieces. The prices were a little high for sushi, but with high-end ingredients like truffles, foie gras and kalamata olives being thrown around with the likes of tuna, salmon, lobster and whitefish, along with other not-sushi-like complements like almonds and garlic chips, I was still quite intrigued. Plus, their vegetarian sushi was even impressive, with a red pepper and asparagus roll, and a sundried tomato and portabella roll, to name a few.

It was with this diversity now intriguing me that I was disappointed to learn how ordinary the lunchtime RW menu was at Kaz, even at the prix fixe price of $20.08. Essentially, they offered a miso, a seaweed salad, a scoop of ice cream and a sushi choice. The choice was either a sushi tasting or a bento box. The bento included a California roll, Japanese short ribs, Barbecued Mackerel and a couple other little tastings. The sushi tasting was a spicy tuna roll, a spicy California roll and then one each of tuna, salmon, flounder and cooked shrimp Nigiri. To me, these seemed like either skimpy or uninteresting choices for over $20, during RW, but it was lunch so neither was actually insufficient. There is a reason that I don't like spending $20 on lunch though.

I ultimately ordered the sushi tasting and found it to be quite tasty. The spicy California had a great kick and they worked the orange roe, which normally dons a Cali roll, into the rest of the sushi, which I found to be much more pleasant. The spicy tuna roll had a similarly flavored kick, which I quite like with my sushi rolls, but it was the smallest spicy tuna roll I've ever seen. It was wrapped seaweed-side-out and was no larger than a regular tuna roll or a standard vegetarian sushi roll like asparagus or avocado. Usually spicy tuna rolls are quite large, so to see a small one was certainly noticeable and the slightest bit disappointing, since it did taste so good. The Nigiri pieces were not cut too thick and were quite fresh. They all had an appropriately rich flavor and color, and were very pleasant to eat. Again, there was nothing out of the ordinary here and the potions were modest, but it was certainly a good plate of sushi.

The other accoutrements were passable if not typical versions of miso and green tea ice cream. The seaweed salad was actually the only huge portion of the meal, and I was initially excited, since it is one of the tastiest and healthiest items on a Japanese food menu. However, this version was actually drenched in a creamy, sesame dressing, which did not dramatically change the taste from the typical salad with just a light sesame finish, but certainly did wonders to kill the healthy aspect that I usually like about this salad.

I think Kaz makes nice sushi from good quality fish, and has some extremely interesting sushi innovations. Through which, Kaz has likely made its name. However, the RW patrons were not offered anything interesting, unique or name-making-worthy. Even at over $20.

They might have intrigued me just enough to give it a shot for dinner, where I make the sushi selections, but it's not going to be any time too soon.

Stay tuned for the third and final installment in this week's Restaurant Week miniseries, as I reveal our trip to Ballston's Dan & Brad's.

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