Tom Sietsema wrote about Tsunami for a April 13, 2011 First Bite column.
Distinctive names are the ways by which Suriyan Scorsat distinguishes his restaurants, starting with Thaitanic in Logan Circle in 2001 and Thaitanic II in Columbia Heights, eight years later.
His latest contribution to the scene, set above his original Thai restaurant, is a nod to Japan that rings distasteful in light of recent events in that country: Tsunami, which, in fairness, opened four months before Japan's record 9.0 earthquake and resulting tsunami.
"I want a name that people will remember," Scorsat says. Once diners get inside one of his places, the restaurateur hopes they find "this isn't such a bad place!"
A huge window overlooking 14th Street NW pulls streams of light into the second-floor Tsunami. Its 35-seat dining room is dressed with sleek orange chairs and a handsome kimono displayed on one wall. An eight-seat sushi bar, a cocktail bar and a private party space complete the package. Thumping club music even early at night suggests the emphasis here is as much on lounging as grazing.
Vu "Nick" Hoang presides as executive chef; he's a veteran of Kushi, Ping Pong Dim Sum and the late Leftbank. A snack of salmon and sweet shrimp sushi wouldn't win my future patronage (the rice was unremarkable), and a roll with sweet potato stinted on the spud. But I appreciate the sea-freshness of the custardy sea urchin nigiri. Tuna tartare - swirled with avocado, minced vegetables and truffle oil - sports a quail egg whose yolk adds to the creaminess. The combination is busy but tasty.
Of the cooked dishes, the best I came across is Bang Bang Shrimp. Dredged in paprika and tempura flour then fried to a gentle crisp, the seafood is presented in a reduction of Thai green curry, sake and brown sugar: Bang, bang, I'm fed!