We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.

Success! You're on the list.

After three months of searching and 10 different tastings, the ownership group of the forthcoming Sushi Rock has selected its opening chef for the Arlington restaurant, which will combine Japanese cuisine with delusions of pop-star grandeur. The Public Group has plucked Sonny Tena, a former sous chef at SEI in Penn Quarter.

“Sonny is the one who excited us the most,” says Tony Hudgins, co-managing partner for Public Group. Tena impressed the owners so much, in fact, the chef influenced Sushi Rock’s approach to cuisine, which will mix traditional Japanese sushi with inventive hand rolls and some hot entrees.

Hudgins says that Tena will be given the freedom to create the sort of inventive maki sushi found at SEI, like the “fish and chips” and “sundried tomato” rolls.  At age 31, Hudgins says that Tena has just been “waiting for the opportunity” to show off his own creativity.

Tena has worked not only at SEI but also at the well-respected Sushi Taro. He’s been cooking professionally since he was a teenager, Hudgins says.

Between Tena’s cooking and Sushi Rock’s rock-star ambiance, Hudgins believes that Public Group’s latest venture will be something unique for Arlington. There’s not a similar “place where the dining experience feels like a nightclub experience,” he says.

Sushi Rock is now scheduled to open during the first week of April. If it’s a success, look for more of them in the future.