Monthly Archives: June 2016

Tako Grill (Bethesda, MD)

I have previously introduced several restaurants in Washington, DC area, and Tako Grill is another one on the list. This restaurant used to be my favorite place when I visited DC at its previous location on Wisconsin Avenue in Bethesda, Maryland. I recently had a chance to visit their new location on Hampden Lane for the first time. It is tucked in a small shopping area adjacent to Bethesda Row and while the space is smaller it appears more open and bright. I personally like the open grill concept so I can watch the food being prepared. The food is the same quality as before and the service is very good, too.


I took local friends and we ordered lots of different dishes to share. The izakaya menu has a great selection of home-style Japanese foods, and I know that whatever I order the taste and quality will be consistent. We ordered Nasu Itame (stir-fried eggplant and pork with a miso paste), Ohitashi (quick boiled spinach in soy sauce), and gyoza. Each dish tasted homemade and prepared with the freshest of ingredients. Tako Grill is a great place to try if you happen to be in the Washington, DC metro area. It is a short walk from the Bethesda Metro station (Red Line) and parking is also available for a charge out front.


Price: $40 per person for this evening

Neighborhood: Bethesda

Dress code: Casual

Dining alone: Yes, nice sushi counter is available

Takeout/Delivery: Yes

Annual Sake Lecture & Tasting at Japan Society

Japan Society’s annual sake tasting event returned for another year with sake expert John Gauntner speaking on regionality of sake on June 8, 2016. It was co-organized by Japan Sake Export Association.


From Hiroshima’s soft, sweet brews to the clean, dry sake of snowy Niigata, regional characteristics often play a role in the flavor profile of sake.  John examined how factors such as raw materials, climate, and regional cuisine can affect the taste of sake from different parts of Japan.

The lecture was followed by a tasting reception with more than 30 kinds of premium sake, including two new brewers.


Japan Society is Japan Society is the leading U.S. organization committed to deepening mutual understanding between the United States and Japan in a global context. Now in its second century, the Society serves audiences across the United States and abroad through innovative programs in arts and culture, public policy, business, language and education.




Fatty Fish

Fatty Fish is a Michelin rated Asian-inspired American restaurant located on the Upper East Side. I have dined here in the past, and I very much like their menu creativity which is slightly unusual in pure, traditional Japanese restaurants. I was recently introduced to Chef Roy and decided to visit again shortly thereafter. After two years living in NYC I feel that I have covered most of the high profile Japanese restaurants; generally speaking most menus are somewhat similar to their peers in my opinion, and I am always seeking to try something new.


When I was speaking with Roy he mentioned that he has been consistently refreshing the menu so that he can offer something innovative or perhaps a new style of cuisine. I love the concept of “East meets West” where Western culinary techniques are used to prepare oriental ingredients – something that has been trendy in the U.S. for a while now. In my eyes a majority of the fusion menus tend to have somewhat of a Japanese influence.

One weekday evening Timothy Sullivan, the Sake Samurai, and I visited Fatty Fish. Roy welcomed us and gave a quick tour of the space. I was amazed by the outdoor seating area which can accommodate 40 guests – all inside a temperature-controlled beautiful garden perfect for a special event or gathering.


We started off with a Hakkaisan bottle of sake with pan-seared edamame sprinkled with kosher salt and seasame seeds. Normally I pair sake with sashimi, however, this combination was equally as nice. We then ordered several small plates and absolutely loved the “Plumtori” chicken basket. The chicken was buttermilk-marinated and fried to a crispy golden brown and then tossed in a special house-blend dried plum seasoning. It was juicy and tender and while it looked like traditional Japanese karaage, it had a different but delightful taste. Afterwards we ordered and shared a pork bun. Pork buns are becoming popular in Asian restaurants in NYC and I haven’t really found any that are memorable and make me want to order more – until now. The ones here are not the steamed doughy kind with flavored pork stuffed in the center. The pork and the bun are served individually, and the mouth-watering meat melted in my mouth. The seasoning complemented the natural flavors of the pork, and I think I could have eaten these all evening!


I ordered curry jumbo shrimp and vegetables for my main course. This dish was Thai-inspired and my first experience of pairing sake with a coconut milk curry – something I won’t find in any traditional Japanese restaurant.   Unlike normal Thai seasoning the shrimp was mild and harmonized with the broccoli, bamboo, and greens.

Roy mentioned the he just started ramen and the “Captain’s Wild Catch” is the signature order. I am already excited to come back to try it!!

Another outstanding thing about this restaurant is the warm and friendly service. I was not surprised about that after meeting Roy, and it is very apparent that his personality reflects the attitude of the entire staff. I highly recommend Fatty Fish for a delicious meal or special occasion.

Neighborhood: Upper East Side

Dress code: Casual

Dining alone: Yes, counter is available

Outdoor space: Amazing outdoor garden seating available

Other: BYOB