After much anticipation, Hikari Sushi and Sake Bar finally opened Thursday night on H Street (644 H Street, NE). Here is a copy of their opening night menu. Overall we were very impressed with both the food and the restaurant itself.
Hikari is a two level row house that has been completely redesigned. The first floor is a full service bar with several tall tables available for dinner service or drinks. Upstairs features a sushi bar where you can watch your sushi being made right in front of you while chatting with the chefs. It also has several booths (including two with window views) for a more intimate setting.
The second floor also has a nice sized patio that will be open in the summer for drinking and socializing. While a little bit dark, overall the restaurant has a very cozy and modern feel, much in line with owner Heesook Chun’s goal of creating a “warm and trendy atmosphere.”
The sushi was fresh and well prepared. Hikari’s menu is quite extensive and includes appetizers, main dishes (non-sushi), chef special sushi dishes, and more traditional sushi. Our dinner started off with a complementary cripsy wanton filled with a very light cream cheese that was lightly fried and quite good. Next we received a complementary tuna sushi appetizer composed of large slices of chilled tuna (because they did not have the necessary ingredients for one of the rolls we ordered) that showcased the freshness of their fish. We enjoyed our gyoza appetizer that was fried at just the right temperature to avoid overcooking and was served with a nice soy based dipping sauce.
The spicy tuna roll was solid and the chef’s special “caviar rainbow roll” contained a nice combination of tuna and cilantro with a spicy jalepeno kick. The sushi menu is quite long, and we look forward to checking out the many other dishes in future visits.
While not significantly more expensive than nearby Sticky Rice for the average dish, Hikari does not have that many dishes that are on the cheaper end. All of the special sushi rolls are over ten dollars (some closer to twenty) and many of the main (non-sushi) entree dishes are in the twenty dollar range but have generous portions. However, if you go with the traditional sushi rolls or some of the noodle dishes, most of them are closer to the five to ten dollar range. The few dishes that we tried justified their price, but Hikari is not on the cheaper end.
Hikari has an extensive drink menu. There are a variety of cocktails as well as sake and beer. The restaurant has a nice selection of imported Japanese beer with a wide range in terms of prices. On opening night the downstairs bar was doing a fairly solid business.
The opening night service at Hikari was great despite a few minor opening night mistakes. After placing our order, it became apparent that one of the dishes that we ordered was not available. Our server immediately apologized and gave us a complementary tuna dish and asked what we would like instead. When the server who brought our sushi forgot which roll was which, the chef who made them kindly explained and then brought us a complementary (and delicious) seaweed salad that he had prepared. Our server was very friendly and chatted with us at the end of our meal about the restaurant and how excited they were to join the neighborhood.
Hikari Sushi and Sake Bar has great potential for the neighborhood. While it may not become a go to place for cheap sushi takeout given its current price point, the great atmosphere and good, fresh sushi makes it a wonderful spot for a date or a place to go out to with a group of friends for drinks and a good dinner.