Scallop Nigiri from Takumi / Photo by Rey Lopez


Takumi / Photo by Rey Lopez

There’s sitting at the bar, eating a burger and drinking a beer. There’s sitting at the bar and sipping a Manhattan. And then there’s sitting at the bar as a man in white lowers his head and passes you a plate of raw fish resting over rice. There is something so personal and humbling about receiving such a delicate display of beauty. But it didn’t start there.

The menu at Takumi covers fish in many forms: fried, marinated, grilled and, of course, raw. One meal began with tuna tartare napoleon, a tower of spicy red mini patties. In the mannered world of sushi-eating, chef Jay Yu thankfully gave permission to eat one layer at a time. He also suggested a stout imported from Japan, Echigo out of Niigata, to pair with the meal, making sake feel like a dated companion.

I hoped the panko-covered fried shrimp, meltingly soft on the inside and crunchy on the out, would actually become a never-ending basket. (The stronger fried mackerel was also excellent.)

But the baby octopus …

It’s marinated overnight with mirin and freshly grated ginger and then grilled, but all you really need to know is eating this little sea creature is like tripping on MSG.

After all these small plates, the arrival of nigiri, from tuna to walu to bronzini, is still a pleasure. Rounded rectangles of fish display funky garnishes like black truffle, lime zest and pickled wasabi leaves (the paste we eat is from the root). A seared scallop is dressed more delicately in lemon juice and Australian sea salt to best show the fire-as-artwork from the mini blowtorch. The char is flavor enough. The man behind the bar knows best.

Established: December 2015
Type: Japanese
Good for: nigiri, baby octopus, imported Japanese beer
Address: 310 S. Washington St., Falls Church
Open: Monday through Saturday for lunch and dinner

(May 2016 Best New Restaurants 2016)