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Maneki Neko sounds like a sushi lover’s sushi joint. The owner/chef Futoshi “Tao” Takazato says on his history page that it “took me six months of practicing and learning before I was able to make sushi for my first customer. It took nearly five years before I would feel comfortable and confident in my art. After training for sixteen years and being promoted to head chef, and felt I was ready to graduate and open my own restaurant here in Falls Church.”

Maneki Neko opened in 2002, and yet Y&H has never step foot in it. Fortunately, Restaurant Rater FallsChurchResident has. Here’s FCR’s report:

The first impression I got walking through the doors to Maneki Neko: “Wow. Charming!” The presentation is almost overwhelming; the walls are painted gold and red, and there are tiny glass kittens (Maneko Nekos are “lucky cats” in Japanese lore) decorating the restaurant.

The service staff is very competent and responsive — refills are quick, the time from ordering until you get your food isn’t long, and your appetizers are brought out first. I’m guessing it’s just “Japanese politeness,” but the waitresses are a little too quiet for my tastes. The sushi chefs at the bar energetically great you as you enter, though: “Irrashaimase!”

Most Japanese places around Falls Church seem to focus on sushi; Maneki shines brightest in their kitchen entrees, which is a huge plus as someone that doesn’t care much for sushi. I’ve found Maneki’s appetizers and entrees (especially the gyouza, teriyaki chicken and tonkatsu) far better than their competition in the area.

As I said, I’m not much of a sushi fan — but my group of friends is, and they say Maneki’s sushi is good, but nothing to write home about. But if you’re looking for authentic Japanese kitchen food, look no further.

Photo courtesy of Maneki Neko