District [Sushi] Geek – Episode 1

31 May

I am a massive sushi lover.  As such, it’s my goal to go forth into the District in search of the tastiest sushi!  Today’s Episode is: Sushi Inside the Pentagon!

Disclaimer: Although I’m a food dork and love sushi, I grew up in a land where sushi was never fresh, and only in the past ten years have I begun to develop a palate. So please take my reviews with a few grains of salt!

I had the honour of dining at the Pentagon today, at what may be one of the hardest-to-access sushi stands in all of DC.  It was inside a simple buffet and market, and within the market two sushi chef stood at their meter-long counter, tirelessly making sushi.  Their menu contained many classics rolls such as the California and Vegetable, as well as typical Nigiri such as tuna, crab, and eel.  They also make party platters (for $60-100)!

I chose the seaweed salad, a staple on par with miso that I use to determine the baseline quality of their food.  I also decided on a “Five on Five Salmon” ($5.99) which was a roll with spicy salmon and cucumber with salmon on top.   A rather bland chili sauce topped the roll.  Then, of course I ordered the “Pentagon Roll” ($5.39).  It was a roll with Avocado, Cucumber, Shrimp and Crab.  Not even tempura anything… this roll just had those simple ingredients, sprinkled with sesame on top.  I thought to myself, maybe it’s a spy roll, hiding a secret taste (much like the building holds so many of the US’ secrets), though I recognized than the ingredients are very unoriginal for a signature roll (see: Shrimp Special, Deluxe California, Jordan’8, & Cal-Vada Maki for starters).

The seaweed salad was very typical, though perhaps with a bit less umami than I like.  Unfortunately, the salad was a vivid green, and one look at the sesame seeds confirmed that green dye was added to the salad to make it look so vibrant.  (Negative points for that.)  But the seaweed was crisp and refreshing, and other than the dye I had no complaint.  And at $2.99 for a serving, the price was completely worth it.

The sushi was presented pleasantly.  The ginger was a bit wilted and weak, and the wasabi was typical, with a nice, rough texture and medium heat (I could have some by itself and it was not hot, just spicy).  The rice was a bit rubbery, though not uncomfortably so, and it lacked a bit of the vinegar flavour that is typical of good sushi rice.  However, the rice was quite sticky and all of my rolls had their integrity intact throughout the entire meal.

The salmon 5 on 5 roll was very bland.  The fish itself had chewy bits and did not taste like the typical high-grade sushi fish that melts on one’s tongue (I had a second thought about maybe getting the tuna 5 on 5 instead!).  The spicy tuna inside was not hot at all, though there was a bit of flavour in the sauce.  And unfortunately the orange sauce on top was nothing but a decorative accent, with no definitive flavours that I could find.

Then came the Pentagon roll.  Avocado dominated.  With a bit of wasabi, I could imagine it being something better, but the shrimp was so thinly sliced I could not even taste it and the cucumber was very thinly sliced and not crispy (perhaps remnants, but not cucumber sticks!).   This unsuspecting roll did not live up to the grandeur of the building it was named after.  Yes, it was disappointing.  But somehow it was better than the 5 on 5.

All in all, I would give this un-named Pentagon Market Sushi Stand a 2 out of 5 stars.  It’s good for supermarket food, but even Whole Foods sushi is better than this was (review on Whole Foods sushi will be forthcoming! 🙂.

There were also no sales of alcoholic beverages in the Pentagon, so I have no review of Japanese beer or sake for this episode 😦

What’s your favourite sushi place?  Mine is California Rollin’, a hole-in the wall hideaway in Rochester, NY.  The thing is, it was where I had my full-on sushi baptism, so I’m not sure that it’s as good as I remember, now that I’m getting around the sushi scene.  Someday I shall return, and then it will be put to the real test! ❤

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