On a Thursday evening a few weeks later, however, it was a
completely different story. We were the only ones in the restaurant for happy hour, and as a result, the service was notice-ably attentive.
And so it goes. Yuzu has had its ups and downs since it
opened, but offers enough interesting, well-executed dishes
to make the restaurant a worthwhile addition to Bethesda’s
The sushi master is Yoshihisa Ota, 46, who was most
recently a partner and chef at Kushi Izakaya in Washington,
D.C. His résumé includes a stint as head sushi chef and sake
sommelier at Sushiko in Chevy Chase, and he owned his own
restaurant in Japan before moving to the United States in 2010.
Given Ota’s background, it’s not surprising that he knows
raw fish, and he’s compiled a traditional and authentic ros-
ter of sushi and sashimi. Whether it’s the salmon sashimi,
a selection of nigiri or maki rolls, the blowtorched aburi
choices, delicate scallop carpaccio thinly sliced and driz-
zled with yuzu dressing, or the nightly specials delivered
from Japan, such as houbou (blue fin robin), isaki (grunt),
or aji (horse mackerel), all are silken, fresh and nicely pre-
sented. I’d rank the quality of the fish in the upper tier of
local sushi eateries.
As for cooked items, the kitchen does an A-plus job with
deep-frying. Don’t miss the corn tempura, a house specialty
that is truly special. The tennis ball-sized orb looks like a
popcorn snack from an amusement park, and though it’s
stuck together with tempura batter instead of caramel, pull-
ing off the crackly, full-of-flavor kernels is equally fun.
Satoimo—fried soft potatoes that resemble Tater Tots—
come in a flavorful dashi broth swimming with onions and
herbs. Fried chicken nuggets (called kaarage on the happy
hour menu, tatsuta age on the regular menu) are much bet-
ter than the American original. The dark meat stays moist
Ota used to own his own
restaurant in Japan.
Age nasu dengaku
offers a comforting
combo of deep-fried
eggplant and ground
chicken flavored with
Grilled yellowtail is a treat,
with generous chunks of
flavorful cheek meat.