Sushi Damo Tuna Roll
Sushi Damo, home of “cutting edge” Japanese cuisine and its “modern-zen” decor has already conquered New York City and more recently opened an outpost in Rockville — I mean, obviously, the next step from NYC is always the RV. Or something.
Anyway, Mrs. Me is a big sushi fan and I like various Japanese foods, so we figured we would try it. And it’s good! Not necessarily any better than, say, Moby Dick right here in Wheaton, which we haven’t visited for far too long. Certainly a hipper vibe, more seating, and a bigger menu.
Mrs. Me went for the $17 three-course lunch special, including (in her case) fine but somewhat watery miso soup and a delicious (and attractively plated) tuna roll. She also got a single piece of tuna sushi on the side, for $3.50. It was good, but that’s the price for just one piece, not a pair. No bargains here.
Sushi Damo bento box
My chicken teriyaki bento box, on the other hand, was solid value at $11. The teriyaki was fine, a little oversweet for my taste but that’s just me. I liked the California roll, the fried tofu, and the citrus-dressed salad, while the shrimp dumplings were too dry, as though sitting under a heat lamp for a while.
Overall pretty good but not cheap, and more of a hip-fancy restaurant atmosphere than the usual understated sushi dive. Different strokes. If we lived in Rockville I’m sure we would be repeat customers, but I think we’re more likely to stick with Moby Dick, or a few other places in Silver Spring or DC, for future sushi needs.
Mixed results in both cases, for a change. At Moby Dick, I tried the unagi rice bowl, and while the barbecued eel was fine, the dish didn’t have much else going on. Best to stick to raw fish and tempura at MD, in my experience. We did try a roll whose name I forget but it involved tuna, spicy sauce, and I think it was fried: delicious. The one-two meal-starting punch of salad (love the peanut dressing) and miso soup also remains a winner.
We intended to order lunch over the weekend from Ruan, but they didn’t answer their phone. Shut down due to hurricane? Or maybe they’re taking their annual weeklong vacation? I’m guessing the latter, did not bother driving by to confirm (they always put a sign up front when they’re on vacation). Anway, we fixated on Thai, so it was Nava’s gain. Making further, uncharacteristic effort to branch out at my favorite mainstays, we tried the Thai fried rice from Nava, which though replete with pork and onions was unexciting (though the leftovers made a pretty good lunch). Pad thai and crispy duck kaprow were as good as ever.
Normally we go to Moby Dick on Triangle Lane for Japanese, and to Woomi Garden (2423 Hickerson) for Korean. But while MD’s menu has a couple of Korean options (MD is actually owned/run by a Korean family), WG’s menu has as many Japanese items as MD’s, beyond the pages of Korean delicacies. And this time, with Senior Me in tow, we found ourselves at Woomi but with a Japanese cuisine craving.
Woomi’s Japanese food is good, though I think not as good as their excellent Korean food, and not as good as the best of Moby Dick. My tonkatsu (pork cutlets) were voluminous — portions at Woomi are generally large — but overcooked. Senior Me liked his shrimp/veggie tempura assortment, and having tasted a few pieces, I agree it was good, though not as good as the Moby Dick version, which I think has a less greasy, more delicate tempura batter; the WG version was more impressive for its presentation, with the shrimp arranged standing on tails around a tower of fried bean, carrot, onion, squash, and sweet potato, like the shrimp were saying grace before diving in to their meatless feast. Perhaps to their surprise (?), they were the first to go…
Mrs. Me got some sushi and seemed to like it well enough, but was nonplussed and eventually quite irritated by the nearly 30 minute delay between the arrival of the (main course) tempura and the arrival of her sushi, a wait interpolated about halfway through by my tonkatsu. We think the kitchen staff were trying to teach her a lesson, in retaliation for her attempt to order the 8-piece sushi assortment on the condition that she be allowed to pick which types of sushi were included. Sushi chefs like to be dictators, not dictatees. I understand their perspective, although it’s not like Mrs. Me was trying to order tuna belly or other high-end pieces; she just wanted salmon and regular tuna and yellowtail but no shrimp or scallop or urchin, that kind of thing. Anyway, it pays to be docile when ordering? Especially since the sushi chef has sharp knives and you probably don’t. This is why, if you’re the adventurous type, ordering omakase is always a good idea at a sushi joint: it makes the sushi chef feel in control, like the universe is as it should be, and when the sushi chef is happy, you’ll likely be happy too. The opposite is also true.
Almost every table was taken on a recent weeknight at Moby Dick (11220 Triangle Lane), love to see them doing such good business. They still have that light touch with their tempura, the sushi is fresh, lots of fun and interesting rolls to choose from, reasonable prices, friendly efficient service. There are better sushi spots, but many more worse spots, and if you live in Wheaton there’s no reason to go far afield for sushi with MDS right here, unless you’re going to one of DC’s truly fancy, upscale sushi joints (where you’ll also pay a lot more, of course).
Lots of restaurants are named for the white whale, and they cover multiple cuisines. The only one I’ve been to is Wheaton’s own Moby Dick (11220 Triangle Lane, no website), fine purveyors of Japanese (and a few Korean) delicacies for many years now. We hadn’t been back for a while, but this weekend’s visit was tasty as usual; in particular, we branched out into some new-to-us rolls, most of which I don’t remember but the Caterpillar roll was my favorite, quite spicy (no need for wasabi) and attractive with its green avocado topping lined with waves of hot sauce. Miso soup, salad, edamame all solid. Tempura was a little greasier than I remember, but crisp, and the shrimp and veggies inside were perfect. We also especially love the service: this is an old-school, super-friendly family-run spot.
An old (2006!) but still valid Post review is here.
I just polished off a homemade fiery Thai-style curry with chicken and peas. Owwww, hot! Love it. I was able to make a superhot one because Mrs. Me is off dining on sushi with a friend at Moby Dick (11220 Triangle Lane), no doubt surrounded right this second by tuna and hamachi and salmon and a big ol’ Sapporo. I think I got the best meal, but shed no tears for her, she’s a happy eater tonight too.
Is it possible to do too much eating in a weekend? I tested, and I think proved, that theory. Last weekend culminated at Tiffin (1341 University) with the usual biryani, vindaloo, samosas and naan. Tiffin is so consistently excellent, I don’t know why they don’t get more attention. Their biryani is addictive, and the vindaloo is (usually) sweat-and-eyewatering hot. As it was on Sunday! And it only took most of this week to recover.
This week also featured happy hour at Againn (1099 New York), newly opened and more sleekly modern than expected. Food has gotten mixed reviews so far, we only had drinks and a pretzel (which was fluffy enough). The happy hour menu is short but good; I can vouch for the Mayflower Martini, a fine, lemony $5 value. Not enough space in the bar area, though. We did not rent a scotch locker, but requisite jokes were made.
Went to Brasserie Beck for dinner but too much chaos and long wait, so instead found ourselves at Mazu (1100 New York Ave. NW). Not to be confused with swank Cafe Mozu in the Mandarin Oriental, Mazu is casual, cheap, and not bad. Their happy hour specials were in fact great: pitchers of Singha, a good saketini, various yakitori (small kebabs) for a dollar or two — we got chicken, pork belly, tofu, asparagus, and all were solid bar bites. “Bangkok wings” are excellent fried chicken wings with Thai-style dipping sauce. Perfectly acceptable California rolls; friendly, efficient service. I would not call Mazu a “destination”, but if I’m near the convention center during the hours of happiness, I would totally go there again.