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The owners of Oya, the Penn Quarter restaurant with the red-velvet rope mentality, opened up sister restaurant SEI at the beginning of the year, and by most early reports, the modern sushi spot was a winner.

Many months after those professional raves, Restaurant Rater audreys isn’t quite so impressed. Listen in:

I was completely underwhelmed with my meal at SEI. Based on the menu and my positive experience with sister restaurant Oya, I had high (but not too high… it is DC sushi afterall) expectations for SEI. But I was sorely disappointed.

SEI’s menu is definitely what I’d call “California sushi” or “fusion sushi” – lots of sauces, interesting fruit/vegetable combinations, crunchy things, etc. I happen to like this style of sushi (as a complement, but not a substitute, to more traditional sushi). This style of sushi is hard to come by in DC, and so I was excited about SEI when I first heard about it and looked at their menu.

But the food just didn’t deliver. No amount of yummy mango sauce could cover up for the less than stellar fish quality and poor sushi rice. For two people, we ate two rolls, two orders of nigiri/sashimi, a hand roll, and two appetizers/salads. Nothing was that great. The SOS roll (salmon, strawberries, and avocado) was the best dish we ate because of its really yummy strawberry sauce. But the rice was hard and the salmon nothing special. A duck hand roll was greasy and tasted only of hoison sauce. The tempura bacon and asparagus salad was a big letdown for me. The dressing on the salad was nice, but I just couldn’t get over the rubbery bacon inside the tempura.

So, overall, I was really disappointed. Given the prices (which were a lot, but not totally unreasonable for this part of town) and the ambiance (really sheek), I just expected more out of SEI.

Do you have another opinion on SEI? Then let us know what you think!