The Trump International Hotel in Washington is back on track to get a second restaurant. Nakazawa, a sibling to the highly regarded Sushi Nakazawa in Manhattan helmed by chef Daisuke Nakazawa, who appeared in the acclaimed documentary "Jiro Dreams of Sushi," will open in the converted Old Post Office Pavilion next summer.
Nakazawa signed on with the hotel about a month ago. The announcement follows past upheaval among the hotel's restaurant prospects. Celebrity chefs José Andrés and Geoffrey Zakarian had plans to open ambitious restaurants at the hotel but pulled out of the project in July 2015 after then-presidential candidate Donald Trump called Mexican immigrants rapists and drug dealers. Both restaurateurs are embroiled with Trump in lawsuits.
Andrés's aborted Spanish-Japanese restaurant was replaced by BLT Prime, a high-end steakhouse overseen by chef David Burke. The space that was to be Zakarian's restaurant was turned into a conference room.
Nakazawa will take over an unoccupied area at the back of the hotel and will have its own entrance.
With regard to the restaurant's second location, Nakazawa owner Alessandro Borgognone said the current political climate has "nothing to do on how we conduct business." Of Trump, he added, "his political views are not our political views."
Several years ago, Borgognone probably would never have imagined he'd be opening a sushi restaurant, let alone one in Washington. It was only after watching "Jiro Dreams of Sushi," in which Daisuke Nakazawa appears as a senior apprentice, that Borgognone cold-contacted the chef, who was living in Seattle at the time, via Facebook and sent him a note with some help from Google Translate. The pair opened Sushi Nakazawa in the West Village in 2013.
Borgognone said the D.C. restaurant will be extremely similar to the New York concept. Almost immediately out of the gate, Pete Wells of the New York Times gave the Manhattan restaurant a four-star review, his highest rating. The Post's Tom Sietsema said Sushi Nakazawa "serves the finest omakase in the land." Sushi Nakazawa's excellent reputation, combined with a limited number of seats — not unlike Jiro Ono's eponymous Tokyo spot — have made getting a reservation for the $150 sushi bar experience (it's $120 in the dining room) notoriously difficult. Unlike Jiro, however, Sushi Nakazawa has yet to receive any Michelin stars, much to the consternation of its fans.
The omakase experience, a tasting menu of 21 nigiri courses, will carry over to Washington, Borgognone said. So will the chef, at least for a while: Borgognone expects him to be in Washington a "good majority" of the time.
Borgognone, who runs several other restaurants in New York, including his family's Italian spot, Patricia's, and recently revived speak-easy Chumley's, said he was drawn to Washington because "it's growing by the minute," especially the dining scene. Plus, the setting in the Old Post Office Pavilion is, he said, "one of the most beautiful properties in D.C."
Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly referred to the Washington restaurant as Sushi Nakazawa. The correct name is Nakazawa. This version has been updated.