Nestled into a little nook in the 1200 block of King Street is Nasime, a new restaurant offering a unique dining experience like nothing else in Old Town. So nondescript that you might miss it, we had to walk past it a couple of times before realizing we were in the right place. The low-key entrance fits the intimate, cozy, hideaway vibe that characterizes the restaurant’s interior, made up of a few tables, a private room that is perfectly suited for small events or gatherings, and a six-person counter allowing you to marvel over chef and owner Yuh Shimomura at work in the kitchen.
Shimomura is the only chef at Nasime, and he takes great pride in his work. This shows in his fascinating presentation, variety of dishes served throughout the five-course meal, and superior freshness of the ingredients. According to the Washingtonian, the menu changes every two weeks, so part of the fun is that you never know quite what to expect, but you can be sure that it will include an amuse, a raw fish dish, a noodle soup, a dessert, and one other dish presented halfway through.
When we were there, the menu included a Spanish cod cheek ni-oroshi…
…which was followed by otsukuri (sashimi) with salmon, conch, bluefin tuna, yellowtail, and mackerel. The range of flavors in this spread would please even the most discerning seafood fanatic.
A West Coast oyster eggplant dengaku came after that, and it was massive. Really, we had never seen an oyster even close to that scale before. It was impressive but also, perhaps, not ideal for non-adventurous eaters.
Next came a Maine lobster miso ramen of epic proportions that was buttery, warm, and very filling.
Finally, we finished with cantaloupe ice cream served atop coconut jelly that ended the savory meal on a deliciously sweet note.
As for drinks, this is a place for sake, not wine. While there are many sake varieties from which to choose, Nasime offers only one red blend. It was good, but this is the sort of place for a “when in Rome” approach. If sake’s not your thing and you lean more toward dark liquor, Japanese-style whiskey options are also plentiful.
Because a lot of the menu involves fresh fish of many different tastes and textures, this a great option for people who love seafood. You can also call ahead with any dietary restrictions or preferences; apparently the chef also prepares duck masterfully (we’ve heard that from more than just our server, who has worked with the chef before and stuck with him because he’s so great).
Nasime is not a go-to option just because you love sushi; in fact, you won’t find sushi on the menu (the sashimi, however, is excellent). This is a unique experience with a specific cuisine, albeit one that the chef’s experience and attention ensure will be done expertly. It is perfect for an experimental foodie, but not for the pickier eaters, so choose your dining partner carefully!