Preview the Newest Japanese Restaurant on Capitol Hill: Momiji

Momiji opens to the public on Wednesday

Alright folks, since the blog-o-sphere (yeah, I said it) will be filled with posts about the brand new Momiji today, allow me to follow suit…

Now just what is Momiji, you might say? Well, you evidently have not been reading this, or this, or this, or this. Oh, wait, read those other blogs later!  What I gotta tell you is this:

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Goma tofu with dengaku miso (sesame tofu with sweet miso paste)

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Nigiri (tuna, copper river sockeye, albacore belly, and extra super surprise)

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Specialty rolls (madison avenue, three amigos, tuna caliente)

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House-made petit mochi (filled with adzuki bean and fresh raspberry)

Everything tasted as fresh and flavorful as we’ve come to expect from Steven Han, the dude who brought Umi Sake House and Kushibar into our lives. Thank you, sir, thank you. Han worked with three amazing artists whose work may be appreciated in the back dining room: Hiroshi Matsubara, the architect; Craig Yamamoto, the woodworker who carved every cherry and maple table by hand; and Yuri Kinoshita, the lighting artist who created woven tapestries and kimono-cloth lamps to decorate the space. Although the landscape designer was not present at Monday evening’s preview, Junji Miki‘s amazing work spoke for itself. No picture available because it should be seen in person. The space is reminiscent of Umi, especially if you’ve ever sat in the Belltown restaurant’s courtyard, but – as my dining companion mentioned – the attention to detail at Momiji is particularly incredible. The room has the perfect level of buzzy background noise from happy people chatting and laughing, and the light is impeccably flattering.

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Back dining room

And, getting back to the food, it was really delicious. The flavors were delicate, crafted carefully by Chikako Watanabe, the Kaiseki chef, who works just as well with seasonal veggies, pork shoulder, and tofu. The cocktails were interesting. And yes, I mean that just as it sounds. The Yama Villa is a take on a traditional sour made with sochu and orgeat, but it needed a bit more tart flavor (maybe try rimming the glass with a lemon?). The stand-out drink – besides the tasty dry Suijin junmai shochu – was the Dhampir, a mixture of shochu, orange, and brown sugar syrup, named for a hybrid vampire-human character of Japanese anime fame (evidently I am not the right audience for a sci-fi anime reference as this went right over my head – whoops).

It’ll be exciting to see how Watanabe changes up the menu as indeed she promised to do on at least a bi-weekly basis.  Momiji looks to be a great place for meeting up with friends for a night out, a drink and a snack.

Please note: Localist is by no means a professional photography company and apologizes for the somewhat lackluster quality of these images. If you visit one of the restaurants in Han’s empire and take an awesome photo, please include a link to it in the comments below!

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