In Chevy Chase, you walk through an excellent restaurant, Sushiko, to get to
an extraordinary one called Kobo, a restaurant-within-a-restaurant that owner
Daisuke Utagawa launched in late 2016. Kobo is a private counter where six
diners experience a multicourse tasting menu crafted and served to them
by Sushiko’s executive chef, Piter Tjan, who engagingly interacts with guests
throughout the meal. The prix-;xe menu comes at a steep-but-worth-it price
and seats are coveted, so book well in advance. Dinner costs $130 per
person including tax and tip for an all-vegan menu offered on Tuesdays; $160
inclusive for the nonvegan menu offered Thursday through Saturday. The
price goes up when you add quaffs from the beautifully curated wine list.
My tasting menu starts with tea (green tea and kelp) theatrically brewed
before me in a tabletop siphon. The chef exchanges pleasantries with each
of the guests and discovers in our conversation that I’m left-handed. “Ah,
that’s important to know!” he says. “I will switch the angle of the nigiri I
present to you so it will be more comfortable to pick up.” For the ;rst course,
a server proffers a covered dish, removing its lid to reveal a cloud of smoke
hiding a medallion of monk;sh liver “foie gras” topped with slate gray osetra
caviar, persimmon purée and lush purple nasturtiums.
A sashimi course includes two generous slices each of decadent fatty
tuna, lean tuna, house-cured and smoked Arctic char, and wild winter
yellowtail, presented with a nest of bean thread, a pile of imported and
freshly grated Japanese wasabi and a verdant shiso leaf.
For the nigiri courses, the chef uses akazu and red vinegar to make his
sushi rice, imparting a brown hue. (Akazu is made from sake lees, the yeasty
dregs left over after sake is made from rice.) He deftly molds small mounds
of the rice, topping each with a pristine slice of ;sh. Among the dazzlers
are cured snapper topped with julienned ginger blossom, and soy-marinated
tuna with caviar and gold leaf. Next are two sushi courses: one a hand roll of
fatty tuna; the other an oval nori cup ;lled with tartare made with the highest
grade (A5) of Japan’s famed wagyu beef and gilded with a quail egg yolk.
The evening’s pièce de résistance isn’t ;sh; it’s a thick slice of deep-fried,
medium-rare, panko-crusted A5 wagyu beef sirloin served on toasted house-made milk bread. If you have room for udon (thick Japanese noodles) and
poached lobster in miso dashi broth, more power to you. Strawberry panna
cotta is a light and refreshing coda to a revelatory dining experience.
5455 Wisconsin Ave., Chevy Chase
301-961-1644 | sushikorestaurants.com
1Kobo at Sushiko ¯ ¯