Can’t choose between nigiri sushi, sashimi, or maki rolls? There’s a fourth way to enjoy one of Japan’s most treasured cultural exports: chirashi sushi. The style of presenting a variety of raw fish over a bed of vinegared rice so that it resembles the jewelry box of a disorganized person is better than poke. Yeah, we said it.
Sometimes the lacquered boxes or bowls also contain shreds of Japanese omelet and vegetables. And not only does chirashi sushi make for a great picture, but it’s often a good deal. The only downside is the next-level chopstick work required to build balanced bites of rice and fish.
Here’s where to try the best chirashi (which means “scattered” or “sprinkled”) in the District.
Rakuya ($18 lunch/$25 dinner)
1900 Q St. NW
The bara chirashi (diced) lunch set also comes with udon noodle soup, shrimp tempura, and a side salad.Dinner’s chirashi features tuna, salmon, yellowtail, white fish, shrimp, eel, surf clam, salmon roe, squid, octopus, and egg omelet.
Sushiko ($25 lunch/$28 dinner)
5455 Wisconsin Ave., Chevy Chase, MD
Five varieties of the chef’s finest selection of fish over a bed of sushi rice are served with pickled radish.
Sakerum ($27 dinner)
2204 14th St. NW
Chef selection of fish, plus uni (sea urchin), salmon roe, and vegetables.
Kaz Sushi Bistro ($25.50 lunch)
1915 I St. NW
Two pieces each of tuna, salmon, yellowtail, white fish, and surf clam are served with sushi rice seasoned with sesame seeds, seaweed, and egg.
Del Campo ($16 lunch & dinner)
777 I St. NW
“Chinatown” chirashi is citrus-cooked tuna, corvina, scallop, caviar, togarashi deviled quail eggs, and smoked shoyu brown butter.
Kintaro ($15 lunch/$20 dinner)
1039 33rd St. NW
Rice here is topped with eel, shrimp, salmon, tuna, and tobiko flying fish roe.
Sushi Taro (2 kinds)
1503 17th St. NW
Bara chirashi ($22 lunch)
A diced variety of fresh fish and vegetables on a bed of sushi rice served with a savory custard dish called chawan-mushi.
Premium chirashi ($35 lunch/available by request at dinner)
Sashimi cuts of fresh fish on a bed of sushi rice, also served with chawan-mushi.