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Even though Masa 14 plays more to the strengths of Richard Sandoval (Zengo, La Sandia) than Kaz Okochi (Kaz Sushi Bistro)— really, would it kill someone to put nigiri sushi on the menu?—the collaboration has proved beneficial for both chefs. It’s spread Sandoval’s influence beyond his two clownish local milieus (Chinatown/Tysons Corner Center) and dragged Okochi from his power corridor in downtown D.C. Their place along the trendy 14th Street NW corridor has made both men seem, I don’t know, cooler. Their pork-belly steam bun is certainly the coolest taco I’ve eaten in recent memory. The meat rests atop a sweet, slightly deflated Chinese bun, which stands in for a corn tortilla; the bite is garnished with mouthwatering complementary flavors: tart pineapple, sour pickled onion, cool cilantro. I imagine that after Sandoval and Okochi conceived the snack, they tasted it, bumped fists, and thought, ‘Yeah, we’re bad motherfuckers.’ I’d like to see more sublime plates like that on their menu (which, incidentally, is executed by former CommonWealth Gastropub chef de cuisine Antonio Burrell). But maybe that’s asking too much. Genius shows up only every once in awhile.

1825 14th St. NW (202) 328-1414

Photo courtesy of Masa 14