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Kaz Sushi Bistro: Mediocrity, thy name is ...

Bobby, Susan, Neil, Francois, Corinna and moi

Act I: Restaurant Week Decisions

So, DC Restaurant Week (RW) approaches and I start prodding people to see if anyone is interested in going out to eat. Well, Bobby and Susan are usually up for food, so we sort of decide that that's a good idea, and leave it alone. About a week before RW we start figuring out when we can make it. Bobby's roped in more people, which is cool: the more, the merrier. Of course, getting everyone to agree on a day and a restaurant is nearly impossible. Hence, we get no verdict until Friday to go somewhere on Tuesday, which leaves few options. However, Kaz Sushi Bistro had seatin available on opentable, so that was the decision.

Act II: Getting there is half the fun

As usual, in order to make it to DC is always an adventure. Drive to East Falls, Take the Orange line in to DC and switch lines if needed. In this case, Bobby, Susan, Neil and moi had decided to meet at Dupont for drinks. I, of course, decide that stretching my legs is a good idea and so walk to Dupont from Farragut West. One the way, I get lost (well, not really, but I went a couple of blocks further than I should have), got solicited for money about half a dozen times , stopped for a hot chocolate at Caribou Coffee [1], and got helpful advice from a building security guard on the advisability of carrying umbrellas. After getting to Dupont, we decided to get drinks at Pizzeria Paradiso (Plan A). We walk in and were told that the "bar" is in reality a counter and we shouldn't sit and have drinks there. So, we implemented Plan B, which was to go to the Brickskeller. As usual, the first 3 beers that bobby wanted weren't available (one wasn't even on the menu). So we settled for other choices (Lindeman's Cassis for me, The Raven for Susan, a Sierra for Neil and something in a cool looking bottle for Bob). Of course, we had to quaff the beers down in order to have enough time to walk to Kaz and meet Francois and Corinna there on time.

Act III: The Restaurant

So, we arrive at Kaz, and I was immediately impressed that the restaurant had the sense to have removed the plug-ugly awning that you can see a picture of on their site. Impression #1: good. Moving into the restaurant, we spied the rest of our party already seated at a table and so we made our way there. Now, lest you get the idea that this took some time, desist! The restaurant is small and cozy and thus it took us only about 5 steps to arrive at our table. Having sat down and murmured the customary hellos and nicetoseeyas, I began eyeing the decor. White walls holding melanges of art that were interspersed with cutouts in the wall that held twigs backlit with different brightly colored lighting (this looks much better than my description seems to convey). Impression #3: soothing decor. The place does look like they have put in as many tables as the space can hold. Try not to bang your knees into things while walking around. Impression #4: Cramped space.

Kaz's had a seperate RW menu available. You could choose 1 appetizer (out of 4), 5 "main" dishes (nigiri, rolls, etc) and 1 dessert. After a lot of discussion, all of us went with the RW menu, at least initially. I ordered the grilled baby octopus, 3 rolls and a couple of nigiri, along with the banana tempura. In addition to choosing from the RW menu, Bobby and Francois had to order sake flights (damn alcohol connoisseurs).

Act IV: The Feasting

After a short wait, the appetizers arrived. My baby octopus dish was small (which was expected) but chewy (which wasn't). This seemed especially disappointing after eating Ceiba's grilled octopus salad a couple of weeks ago. Meanwhile, the other appetizers seemed to be doing better. The fried calamari was acceptably cooked though not great, and the mussels were realy good (though I didn't taste any). I was willing to give the restuarant a break seeing as how it was pretty packed for dinner, and hoped the entrees would be better.

The rest of the meal didn't start off any better. It took almost 30 minutes after finishing our appetizers for the main courses to arrive. Our server explained this away by mentioning that the kitchen had to get everyone's order to the table at the same time, thus taking longer. (Of course, no other restaurant is afflicted with this high standard of service. Thus allowing them to get dishes tothe table faster *rolls eyes*). When the dishes finally arrived, we were starving. My main course looked pretty interesting: Salmon and Tuna nigiri, a DC roll, a red pepper and asparagus roll, and a spicy tuna roll. I went pretty conservative with the choices since I like to figure out how well a restaurant does with the standard items, especially a sushi restaurant. Getting 3 rolls was a bit much, but luckily I was starving.

The tuna and salmon pieces were decent. The meat was acceptable but nothing to write home about. I can pretty much echo that sentiment for the 3 rolls as well. I had high hopes for the DC roll, but somehow the flavors in that were pretty subdued. I tried Neil's "fushion" sushi choice of tuna with pesto, which was interesting in that the pesto gave it a zing that simutaneously took away from and added to the taste of the fish, depending upon what you were looking for from it. I think it's something that I would order only for the sheer novelty factor.

The finale came in the form of dessert. My banana tempura was pretty decent. Served with a black rasberry ice-cream. It was interesting and tasted pretty good. Apparently, the green tea tiramisu was really good.

Act V: Conclusion

From the faces of people around the table, everyone seemed to be a mite disappointed with the food. We had expected better from Kaz's. Dessert did seem to partially make up for the mediocrity of the main course, but the overall experience didn't quite live up to our expectations. In Kaz's defense, I should say that we didn't actually try much of the "fushion" (or chef's speciality) items that were on the main menu, mostly due to the choices present in the RW menu.

Ratings

Kaz Sushi Bistro
Service Slow and mediocre
Decor Sudued but interesting
Food Decent sushi but below expectations

Footnotes

  1. Caribou's hot chocolate is even worse than Starbucks, if that's possible. The only thing good about it was that it was hot enough to please on a cool evening.

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