Another restaurant in the Washington D.C. area that I recommend is Temari Japanese Café in Rockville, MD. It is located just outside the Beltway in a small strip mall on Rockville Pike (coincidentally a nice Japanese grocery store is located on the second floor). A local colleague took me here for dinner on a weekday night — we arrived around 7:00 pm and it was full of customers. As soon as I entered I felt as if I was back in Tokyo at one of my favorite neighborhood restaurants.
My friend strongly recommended the wafu hamburger (Japanese style hamburger steak topped with minced daikon and a generous portion of sautéed onions and bean sprouts). However, I could not resist ordering the Japanese curry — the aroma tempted me as soon as I arrived and opened the door. I started my meal with a fresh green salad where the lettuce seemed as if it were just picked from a local garden. And then the curry arrived. It reminded me of the style of curry my mother prepared for dinner back in my childhood. It was made from scratch and absolutely delicious — creamy and mildly spicy at the same time. The portion was very generous and had an equal amount of rice. While Japanese curry is become more popular in the U.S. I would guess that few restaurants offer this level of quality — home-made and very reasonably priced. My friend ordered the hamburger steak and offered a small taste of temptation for my next visit. The meat was cooked to a medium-well doneness and had a slightly charred outer edge and juicy center. The sautéed onions and sprouts complimented the dish very well and were crisp and tender — a perfect compliment to the daikon covering the hamburger. I am already looking forward to my next visit to D.C. so I can order the entire entree!
I was informed that Temari is always crowded — you may have to wait a short while — but trust me, it will be worth the wait.
1043 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD 20852
Neighborhood: Rockville, MD
Dress code: Casual
Dining alone: Very comfortable as there is a counter
I have received inquires from readers of this blog if I know of good Japanese restaurants in other cities – so they can try those while on business trips or leisure travel.
One suggestion is Nagomi — a nice, comfortable and casual izayaka restaurant in Washington, DC. I read an article in a NYC paper about Nagomi – located in the heart of the city and surrounded by a variety of other restaurants of varying cuisines. Nagomi is a family owned and operated, and in fact, the owner’s son greeted my guest and me and was part of the overall service.
The restaurant offered a very comfortable atmosphere and was super clean – just as I would expect any at Japanese restaurant. The menu was very simple and reminiscent of what I would find in Tokyo. We started with Oshinko, or Japanese pickles, and they were seemingly homemade and definitely delicious. Next were potato croquettes (deep fried mashed potatoes with a light, crispy panko coating), gyoza, and ginger pork. Everything was perfectly prepared and delicious – I could have made an entire meal out of multiple servings of the croquettes (perhaps the best I have ever eaten in the U.S.) and gyoza . . . maybe next time. And it is also important to mention that these selections were each priced in the $5 – $8 range and definitely worth every penny. I ordered the mini salmon-ikura don for dinner and it was expertly prepared and equally delicious.
Even though I was nearly full and could barely eat anything further, I opted for the strawberry mochi ice cream – it was the absolutely perfect ending to a delicious meal.
Price: We paid $120 including tips for all above and few drinks. Satisfying!
Dining along: very comfortable at tables or small counter area
Since I arrived NYC I have been searching for a restaurant to go to on a regular basis. One that offers a comfortable interior, good service, and great taste with reasonable prices. I think I finally found such a place. I visited Wasan with virtually zero knowledge about the restaurant — I found it on Yelp after attending a happy hour event in the East Village. My first impression was that the app incorrectly directed me to a European restaurant, but after double-checking the name and address, I realized I was at the right location after all.
I was impressed at the waiter’s knowledge of sake and various food that the restaurant offered. Japanese cuisine is relatively new to the mainstream circuit in NYC in my opinion, and not many waiters/waitresses exhibit a depth of knowledge that I found here.
I started off with delightful house-made pickles – a choice of 3 from the various options. I also ordered deep fried eggplant marinated in oyster sauce and dashi (broth) — one of my favorite Japanese dishes. For my main entree, I chose simmered black cod. I have ordered this a number of times at other restaurants and I felt that most were overpriced and bland. Wasan cooked it perfectly — every mouthwatering, tender morsel — and it melted in my mouth. It was priced reasonably, and I added Orion (a microbrew from Okinawa) and Shichda sake for my beverages. The portions at Wasan are also very generous – unlike most Japanese restaurants – without sacrificing any quality whatsoever. An appetizer matched with an entrée will definitely leave you feeling satisfied. The only downside is that you may not have any room for more, thereby not being able to enjoy their delicious strawberry-coconut homemade ice cream (topped with sake sorbet) for dessert!
This is the first restaurant in NYC where I could eat every day without any hesitation.
Price: $70 for my selection including dessert and tip
Neighborhood: edge of East Village
Dress code: Casual and comfortable venue for a date
Dining alone: No problem. Great counter serviced by a caring staff