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Restaurateur Michael Schlow has been hammering out how to best utilize the 32-seat dining room next to Alta Strada in Mount Vernon Triangle since 2016. It opened as a crudo bar called Conosci and then Schlow experimented with a string of pop-ups like tapas restaurant Calle Cinco.
The space presents a unique challenge because it doesn’t have the cooking equipment of a standard restaurant kitchen. With sushi, Schlow seems to have found an ideal fit.
Schlow, together with his restaurant group’s culinary director Ed Scarpone and pastry chef Alex Levin, will reopen the plush blue-and-purple-hued venue as Nama next month.
They’ve tapped Handry Tjan, formerly of Sushiko and Kōbō, as the lead sushi chef of the permanent restaurant. Tjan and his brother Piter, who remains at Sushiko, are known for their decadent nigiri and clever presentations, but Nama will be a little more familiar.
“This is your neighborhood Japanese restaurant,” Schlow says. “There will be shrimp tempura rolls, spicy tuna, and edamame.”
Nigiri sushi, sashimi, handrolls, and maki will be the focus, but the menu also features a selection of izakaya-style dishes such as gyoza in soy truffle broth; rock shrimp tempura with a yuzu dipping sauce; chilled soba noodles in dashi with ikura, tobiko, uni, and shrimp; and Kobe beef sliders flavored with truffles and parmesan.
Levin will introduce a selection of desserts like cake pops, matcha cheesecake, and black sesame gelato.
The menu is set up for a la carte ordering, but if diners want an omakase tasting menu experience, that can be arranged. There will be several sushi options for vegetarians such as spicy beet tartare with Thai basil and crispy quinoa and king trumpet mushroom with lime and truffle salt. Drink offerings will include Japanese whisky, sake, and craft cocktails. Beer and wine will also be available.
When it opens in October, Nama will be open for dinner nightly.
Schlow Restaurant Group is fresh off opening another Japanese restaurant. Adachi debuted in the Birmingham neighborhood of Detroit in August. Locally, Schlow is behind The Riggsby, Alta Strada, Casolare, and Tico.
Nama, 465 K St. NW