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For years, yours truly and just about every other food writer, whether local or national, described Makoto as a kaiseki house. And for years, every one of us was dead wrong. Last year, a manager at the tiny Palisades restaurant informed me that the place prefers to be called an omakase house. The difference between the terms would likely bore an OMB analyst. Besides, the two styles of Japanese cooking do share a few qualities: a genteel formality, a progression of courses, and a belief in seasonal ingredients. In the end, the name of Makoto’s cuisine matters only to the owners and the defenders of tradition. What matters to me is the elegant, almost ceremonial meal itself, which can vary every time you dine here. Makoto prepares sushi with rare sophistication, but the chefs also excel at many other dishes, like deep-fried soft-shell crabs breaded with pebble-sized crumbles of rice cracker or strips of medium-rare tenderloin that practically slide down your throat with the soy-based sauce. You could argue that food this uncommonly precise and delicious actually defies description.

4822 MacArthur Blvd. NW (202) 298-6866