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The first time I visited Makoto, I made the mistake of trying to engage with the tight-lipped chef behind the counter. I was thinking, you know, that I’d have a real sushi-bar experience and get to know the chef so that he could serve me a more custom-built omakase. That’s when the diner a few seats down at the bar started clearing his throat. I glanced over, almost certain of the punishment to come, and sure enough, the dude was giving me the business about talking to the sushi master. I would soon learn that talking goes against the meditative spirit of Makoto, which specializes in kaiseki cuisine, an elegant style of cooking and presentation that mirrors the formality of a Japanese tea ceremony. It may sound ridiculously fussy, but once you give yourself over to the experience, you’ll find nothing else like it in D.C. You start by removing your shoes in an anteroom and donning a pair of pillow-soft slippers. From there, you will be pampered by an almost geisha-like server, who will, if you permit, bring you a tasting menu full of delicacies, many of them seasonal. It could be as humble as soba noodles with spring mushrooms or as luxuriant as Kobe beef. All told, it’s a ritual artistic and delicious enough to humble you into silence, even when you feel like talking the chef’s ear off.4822 MacArthur Blvd. NW, (202) 298-6866
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