A new restaurant has opened in the “cursed” building of a former Pizza Hut here in Arlington, Virginia. In what used to be Tap and Vine – a local establishment that had less than mediocre food (but a good beer list), Asian Kitchen takes its place. I was extremely skeptical already, knowing that many restaurants have come in and out of this building. However, when unsure what to do for lunch one day – I headed on over there with my date for some sushi.
When we got there, we were greeted by a friendly staff eager to serve. The place was pretty empty, but then again, it was a Saturday afternoon on July 4th weekend (how patriotic of me). The interior is very nice, big tables, comfy chairs, with little Asian influences throughout it. Up at the bar, a sushi master waits for our order – how could we disappoint him? We are handed our menus and are surprised it is not only sushi – but Chinese food also – and a gigantic menu to choose from! After much deliberation, my date decided to start with the Miso Soup ($1.75).
Even though Miso soup is easy to make – Asian Kitchen prepared it perfectly, with tiny bites of tofu and chopped scallions in it. The broth was delicious and would be perfect on a cold winter’s day.
Then came the hard decision of having to choose which sushi to get. We asked our server a lot of questions about each one, she was very knowledgable and helpful. She informed us they own two other restaurants – one in Alexandria called Ichiban and another strictly Chinese. They also brought over the two best chefs from each restaurant to open Asian Kitchen. She then recommended the Chef’s special “Three Dynasties” ($15.00) We chose that and a regular (and smaller) sushi roll, Taiko ($11.00).
This is Three Dynasties. It was humongous and the prettiest display of sushi I have ever seen in my life. Everything was seasoned to perfection. The crunchy exterior gave way to a soft interior that forces you to take at least two bites of this massive piece of sushi. This was unlike any sushi I have ever had, knowing this, I will be getting every Chef special I can next time I go.
As for our second toll, Taiko, a more traditional sushi roll to satisfy our American needs. Again, the presentation was above and beyond – beautiful to the eyes. It was crunchy scallops, masago with Japanese mayo, cranchy, and topped with spicy tuna. All of it worked together perfectly. I wasn’t sure at first if I would like all the Japanese mayo drizzled across it, but found myself dipping the rolls into it as I ate more.
Overall Asian Kitchen far surpassed my expectations, I went expecting another sushi restaurant that lived in a cursed building, but found a new favorite spot for authentic sushi with a friendly staff in a relaxed atmosphere. One minor downside of Asian Kitchen is parking. Their parking lot is tight, but Kibitzers encourages patrons to find easier parking in surronding neighborhoods. When we were there, about a week ago, they were still waiting on their liquor license. I can only imagine how awesome it will be there once this comes to fruition. As said before, the menu is extensive, from Kung Pao chicken to eel rolls, all at reasonable prices. I know I will be going back for more.
Recap: Great sushi, friendly staff, good prices, great lunch specials Monday-Friday. Parking is a bit of an issue/difficult.
Kibitzers Rating: 4.5 out of 5