Editors' pick

Izakaya Seki

$$$$ ($14 and under)
Japanese small plates prepared by talented chef Hiroshi Seki in a serene, 40-seat setting.
Dinner Wednesday through Monday.
(U Street/Cardozo)
U Street/African-Amer Civil War Memorial/Cardozo (Green, Yellow lines)
76 decibels (Must speak with raised voice)

Editorial Review

2013 Fall Dining Guide

2013 Fall Dining Guide
By Tom Sietsema
October 10, 2013

Having spent more than 50 years in kitchens, Hiroshi Seki, 66, is a prime example of practice making perfect, or at least becoming very good at what one does, which in his case is buying and slicing fresh fish in such a way that attracts Japanese speakers in droves even mid-week.

Sashimi is one reason to drop by this serene Japanese restaurant, just 40 seats on two floors and watched over by the chef's daughter, Cizuka Seki. The small-plates menu beckons with ruddy tuna splashed with a garlicky soy sauce, plump chicken meatballs made fluffy with mountain potato and glazed with house-made teriyaki sauce, and braised pork belly and silken tofu served with spicy mustard.

Budgeteers, take note: $5 gets you a beer or soju and a bite to eat (tuna sashimi, skewered chicken) during happy hours Tuesday through Thursday.

2012 Fall Dining Guide

2012 Fall Dining Guide
By Tom Sietsema
Washington Post Magazine
Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012

Flying solo, I like to sit at a stool here and let the cooks behind the counter keep me company. With pals, I head upstairs to a room with an unfinished ceiling but a clean aesthetic. Wherever I land, I know I can count on seductive Japanese food from chef Hiroshi Seki, a relative newcomer to Washington but not to fresh fish and sharp knives. His menu is divided into categories based on raw, fried and grilled preparations, a favorite of which are glazed chicken meatballs, their centers fluffy as mousse. With luck, among the specials will be poached squid dappled with bright basil sauce, spinach made creamy with tofu, and miso soup floating pork belly and konnyaku (Japanese yam cake). Patrons sip as happily as they graze; trust a server to point you to something cool and clean on the long list of sakes. Seki co-owns the slender space with his daughter, Cizuka, who serves as general manager and as trusted guide to the offerings. Hear that? The best possible music to my ears is the sound of so many guests speaking Japanese.