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For 32 years, Sushi Taro has only called 17th Street NW home. The sushi authority with a Michelin star hasn’t expanded to a second location or taken on a new project. Until now.
Chef Nobu Yamazaki is teaming up with Social Restaurant Group partners Mike Bramson and Naeem Mohd to open TABU at The Wharf. The 3600-square-foot restaurant with floor-to-ceiling windows and 100 seats will be positioned on the third floor of 88 District Square SW, the building that also holds La Vie from Social Restaurant Group, The Channel, and The Anthem.
While the ingredients will be of the same quality diners have come to expect at Sushi Taro, the style of cuisine is a notable departure for a traditionalist like Yamazaki.
“Sushi Taro has always been authentic with a true Japanese feel to it, but there’s always a desire to do something different,” he says. “Finally we have an opportunity to do something a little more adventurous.”
Specifically, Yamazaki will look to incorporate flavors and cooking styles from the Pacific Rim, including Hawaii. “The Hawaiian flavors will come up with the cooked dishes mostly,” he adds. “Sushi, of course, will have different twists to it.” There won’t be an omakase-style menu offered because TABU doesn’t have a sushi counter.
Yamazaki and Bramson say they hope to open TABU in the first quarter of 2019. They plan to serve lunch and dinner and keep the kitchen open late to feed concertgoers after shows.
The restaurant is going for a lounge feel. Bramson says to expect bright, splashy murals. He tapped Social Restaurant Group’s go-to designer, David Anthony Chenault, to create the space. “We want downstairs to play this forbidden fruit, sultry vibe,” he says. “There will be lots of vibrant colors. It’s art-driven.”
The Wharf’s retail team connected the unlikely duo. “Immediately after signing the sushi concept, they said we should meet and introduced us,” Bramson says. “From there Chef Nobu and I talked over the phone. We had lunch and had a conversation and felt that what we wanted to do and what he wanted to do really aligned. From there it felt like a great partnership.”
Yamazaki will spend a significant amount of time at TABU when the restaurant opens, but he’ll still be present at Sushi Taro, where he is the face of the omakase experience, held in an intimate room in the back of the restaurant.
TABU, 88 District Square SW