There’s still a solid place to find all-you-can-eat sushi in this city filled with expensive omakase meals. Sushi Para, an unassuming restaurant in Van Ness at 4221 Connecticut Ave. NW, lets you gorge yourself on nigiri sushi and fancy rolls for $20.99.
Those partaking in the all-you-can-eat deal order off a paper sheet listing the AYCE menu options. There’s an additional charge for anything ordered that goes uneaten, but with some careful planning, a discerning diner can get some serious bang for their buck. Order enough, and your meal will likely come on a big wooden boat.
Follow these six strategies to ensure that you spend your $20.99 well:
Skip the beer
Sushi Para offers tempting $2 Miller Lites, but beer commands too much room in your stomach. Reserve every last inch of your gut for sushi so that you can say you made it to piece 44 or 45. Beer will always be there for you in the future.
Either pass on the appetizers, or go all out if raw fish isn’t your thing
A few appetizers, such as edamame, gyoza, and yakitori, are included on the all-you-can-eat menu. If sushi is the real reason for the trip to Sushi Para, then, much like passing on beer, skipping the apps will help preserve your hunger level. An alternate approach is to go big on appetizers and order a mountain of gyoza. This strategy works if you’re not a huge sushi fan, but the rest of your group is.
Skew your order toward the fancy rolls
Sushi Para offers plentiful old standbys like California rolls, but a savvy sushi penny-pincher should order more elaborate options. Try the “Pop Up Roll” with spicy salmon, crab, shrimp, cucumber, and avocado topped with tempura chips and tobiko; “Chicago Roll” with salmon and cucumber topped with eel, avocado, and masago; and the Volcano Roll with spicy yellowtail, spicy tuna, and spicy salmon all topped with tobiko and a tangy chili sauce. They all run about $10 on the a la carte menu, so even if you tap out after devouring these three rolls you’ve already gotten your money’s worth.
Carefully select your nigiri
Featuring thin slices of fish over mounds of rice, nigiri sushi is the best way to try something intriguing with not a lot of risk. They’re one-bite wonders. Flavors aren’t disguised as they are in a complex roll, so you can find out if the fish variety is something you want to order more of in the future.
Order frequently, and before you’ve finished eating
Sushi Para’s all-you-can-eat offer may be slightly under-the-radar, but it’s a favorite hangout for Red Line riders in the know, and especially American University students looking to stretch their cash. As such, it’s frequently busy and service can slow down. Be sure to flag a server and turn in your paper menu card for your next order of food shortly after you sushi arrives. That way, you’ll avoid long stretches of waiting and feeling full between courses.
Try the miso soup last
Miso soup is typically an appetizer, but enjoy it last and it will compact and condense all the rice in your stomach, making the waddle home a little less miserable.
Sushi Para’s all-you-can-eat sushi deal is for dine-in customers only. The restaurant is open Monday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.; Fridays through Saturdays from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.; and Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Sushi Para, 4221 Connecticut Ave. NW; (202) 237-8777; sushiparausa.com/Washington