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Best sushi menu: Rakuya

Lily Speredelozzi | Assistant Photo Editor
Rakuya’s expansive sushi menu of more than 50 rolls sets it apart from its competitors as the best in Northwest D.C.

Location: 1900 Q St.

Readers’ pick: Toryumon

With a multitude of sushi options in the District, it can be hard to narrow down the best all-around menu – but Rakuya in Dupont Circle provides all the fixings for your next sushi craving.

Just a 20-minute walk from campus, the local DMV chain – with sister locations in Cathedral Heights and Bethesda – opened as Raku in 1995 and was renovated and rebranded as Rakuya in 2016. Rakuya boasts a well-priced yet authentic sushi menu, a rare find in D.C. – standard rolls start at $5.50, and specialty rolls range from $8.50 to $19 with most hovering around $12.

The cozy yet modern interior of the restaurant is bustling even on weekdays but has somehow cleared a table within five minutes each time I’ve visited, no matter how busy they are. On a 70-degree Tuesday evening during my most recent visit, the expansive outdoor patio was lively and energetic with satisfied patrons.

We sat down to order four of Rakuya’s delectable sushi rolls – the rainbow roll ($13.50), the black snake roll ($16), the crunchy shrimp roll ($8.50) and the crunchy spicy toro roll ($11.50). The four rolls arrived beautifully placed on a matte black plate, optimal for sharing purposes.

The rainbow sushi starts with a classic California roll made of avocado, cucumber, crab sticks and fish roe but tuna, salmon, yellowtail and cobia fish sit atop each piece, adding pops of color to the roll. The roll comes with each fish draped over two pieces of sushi, making it a perfect fit for a pair of patrons.

Sushi enthusiasts on the hunt for a more experimental roll should look no further than the black snake roll. It consists of spicy tuna, tempura crunch, black tobiko and pickled jalapeno wrapped in black rice, topped with avocado and garnished with fried leeks. But if this wasn’t jam-packed enough with flavor, the truffle oil will elevate your taste buds above and beyond, succeeding in the experimental aspect of the roll.

Rakuya may have an impressive selection of specialty options, but don’t skip out on its’ classic, crunchy sushi. The crunchy shrimp roll complete with simple ingredients – shrimp, mayo, fish roe and tempura flakes – is undoubtedly one of the menu’s standouts. The refreshing shrimp alongside the satisfying crunch from tempura flakes and creamy mayo provide a satiating flavor and texture combination for any sushi lover.

Although it’s a tough competition, the crunchy spicy toro roll was the highlight of our spread. Fatty tuna, cilantro, crunchy cucumber and ginger topped with spicy sriracha sauce combine to create an impeccable combination of refreshing and spicy flavors that will make you want to come back to Rakuya for more.

Rakuya’s expansive sushi menu of more than 50 rolls sets it apart from its competitors as the best in the Northwest. The restaurant has all the fixings for an unforgettable dining experience – from the atmosphere to the cost to the cuisine itself.

Rakuya provides an authentic, affordable and delicious sushi menu with plenty of variety that will impress just about anyone, no matter if you’re a picky eater or adventurous sushi connoisseur.

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