First Bite: Sushi Bar in Alexandria

(Maddie Meyer/ THE WASHINGTON POST ) - Mark McConnell of Bethesda and Brianne Carter of Alexandria eat at the counter at Sushi Bar.

(Maddie Meyer/ THE WASHINGTON POST ) - Mark McConnell of Bethesda and Brianne Carter of Alexandria eat at the counter at Sushi Bar.

For those who might have missed it on the “Today” show, Fox News, the Huffington Post and seemingly every other media outlet, the just-sprung Sushi Bar in Alexandria requires its customers to be 18 or older.

Co-owner Mike Anderson would prefer to talk up his chef and his menu, but he’s willing to respond to yet another question about why kids aren’t part of the clientele in the 48-seat restaurant he has squeezed between his two others in Del Ray: Pork Barrel BBQ and Holy Cow.

VIENNA, VA, JANUARY 9, 2013: Winter salad of shaved cucumber, radish and endive with lemon vinaigrette. Dishware courtesy of Crate & Barrel. (Photo by ASTRID RIECKEN For The Washington Post)

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“The room is a lounge, an escape pod,” he says of the intimate Sushi Bar, dressed with wasabi-green ottomans and dragons on red wallpaper. Further, “Del Ray is filled with places for young families,” including his casual concepts on either side of the pan-Asian arrival.

Bill Blackburn, Anderson’s business partner, was soliciting feedback from patrons the evening I dropped by and let it be known that children are well catered to in the neighborhood. “Sometimes we fill more high chairs than regular” seats at Pork Barrel BBQ, he said, nodding in the direction of the pit stop next door.

Anderson allows he knew little about Japanese food before opening Sushi Bar, which is why he recruited a sushi consultant. The restaurateur ended up finding his chef, Saran “Peter” Kannasute, on Craigslist. Kannasute, 33, is a Thai native who last cooked at Sushi Rock in Arlington.

His raw fish on vinegared rice, including delicate yellowtail and buttery fatty tuna, is for the most part pleasing. Small plates are billed as “tastings” and run to a satisfying tuna tartare made creamy with avocado and zippy with tomato salsa, a snack scooped up with tortilla chips. Sushi Bar’s rolls include novel Japanese “sandwiches,” pressed triangles of sushi rice and nori (representing the bread) filled with spicy tuna, avocado and cucumber slices and delivered on a slender white plate piped with glistening mango sauce.

Kannasute has clever touches, but he needs to go easy on the sweetener. Freshwater eel sushi, for instance, is brushed with a soy sauce glaze that borders on a dessert topping.

A menu category called “Leave It to the Chef” is my next game plan at Sushi Bar: seven courses for $50, not including tax, tip — or strollers or high chairs.

tom.sietsema@washpost.com

2312 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria. 571-257-3232. www.sushidelray.com. Rolls and tasting plates, $6 to $12.

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