No Wait For Izakaya Seki on a Slow Summer Weekend

Since we did well walking into Kinship over the long weekend, we thought we’d try another impossible-to-get-into restaurant. After a bit of debate, we settled on Izakaya Seki, both because we had long wanted to try it and because of its proximity to other restaurants in case of a fail.

Medium fatty tuna sashimi

Medium fatty tuna sashimi

Izakaya Seki is located just a block off U Street, tucked away on a residential block, but it seemed much more removed from the craziness of U Street. Maybe it was because of the holiday weekend.

The restaurant is located in a small row house – so you can see why seating might be an issue. Although there’s a cute patio that might be nice place to wait or maybe even dine on non-rainy days.

We decided we’d rather eat at the sushi bar downstairs, if that was an option. Fortunately, it was. We plopped down in the middle of a 10 seat counter, bare bones wood floors, metal high top stools, and watched the sushi chef, in this case the owner, at his craft.

We decided to try two of the sashimi specials, and a smattering of grilled and cooked dishes. I liked our grilled short rib, although it was tough to eat. A thin slice of short rib cut cross-wise, with the bit of bone still, flavorful, but no elegant way to eat it. So we just gnawed, semi-discreetly.

Fried squid with lemon wedges

Fried squid with lemon wedges

For the fried dishes, we had to try the soft shell crab, since it’s in season and also the fresh squid. Both were fun preparations with a slightly different non-tempura batter, not exactly what I would have expected. The soft shell came with a wonderful vineagriette which cut any fried taste or heaviness. I was expecting a usual tempura dipping sauce or a ponzu sauce of some sort, but this led with the vinegar, which was exactly what the dish called for.

What else stood out? The rice balls we had to finish our meal. Yep, rice balls. G chose one with spices and salmon roe mixed in, while mine was stuffed with salted seaweed. They look so easy to make, right? A bowl of warm rice. The sushi chef scoops out the rice, forms is into a ball and wraps a sheet of dried seaweed around it. Voila. But so good.

Izakaya Seki also had a great selection of sake, complete with photos of the bottles and descriptions of the flavors. I pointed to one with a ceramic bottle and said to G, that one looks like a Japanese person would actually drink it. While he agreed, he chose another which he seemed to enjoy. Speaking of Japanese people, there were several at the counter – I take this to be a good sign of quality and authenticity ….

And how did the evening end? With Japanese whisky, of course. Since the purpose of an izakaya is to provide small dishes to accompany drinks. Our whiskies were very reasonably priced, and they had both Suntory and Nikka whiskys.

Ever a Suntory fan, I had both the Yamazaki 18 year ($21) and Hakushu 12 year ($13). Delicious, clean tasting as always. Very Speyside to me. And pretty standard to reasonable prices. Especially when you consider those same whiskies ran nearly double $40 and $18, respectively, when we had them in San Francsisco recently at a Japanese whisky bar.

Just makes whisky – and dinner – that much better.

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