Jiro Ono, turning 90 in October, is the world’s most famous sushi master. Credit his Michelin-three-starred, ten-seat counter, Sukiyabashi Jiro, in a Tokyo subway corridor and the film that documents his 70+year career, “Jiro Dreams of Sushi.” Diners must reserve a seat weeks ahead and travel to the Ginza zone of Japan to experience 15 minutes or so of culinary sensation. The tab per diner: somewhere near U.S. $350. He has trained his two sons in the rigorous aesthetic and spirit of sushi-making.
But Washington also has a sushi team of brothers—Piter Tjan and Handry Tjan. As co-executive chefs, they oversee the intimate counter (and the kitchen) at Sushiko, a dining destination only steps from the Friendship Heights Metro station and the luxe retail of Chevy Chase. Their cooking respects tradition yet reflects the men’s worldly identity—born in Indonesia and mentored by American chefs in cuisines Thai and Japanese.
At the sushi bar (reservations recommended), diners entrust themselves to the chefs, opting for the tasting menu (seven original small dishes, a sushi course and dessert, $90) or the sushi omakase, a continuous (“let us know when to stop”) delivery of premium seafood ($60 and up). Three other spaces—a windowed lounge, a high-ceiling dining room and an alcove with booths—allow for plotting one’s own Zen path from cocktails and sakes to sashimi, entrees and sweet finishes.
Highlights of the season: soft-shell “whale” crabs, the indeed larger, “elite” crustaceans, here prepared kara-age style, i.e., flash-fried so every bit is tender but crispy to dip in a house-made ponzu sauce. Also through July: an exotic ice cream trio to taste in order—first lychee sorbet with peppercorn and mint, then huckleberry ice cream with shiso leaf and last (yes) foie gras ice cream with pink Himalayan sea salt.
In 2014 Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took President Obama and U.S. ambassador Caroline Kennedy to Sukiyabashi Jiro in that Tokyo basement. After an hour and a half, Obama emerged declaring his dinner “the best sushi I’ve ever had.” Now it’s time for this son of Hawaii to check out what’s happening north of the White House on the D.C./Maryland line.