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Reservations Recommended

Restaurant Review ~ Zeppelin / 1544 9th St., NW

 Sushi on Steroids. When you look around DC for new/new restaurants, you will find something from almost every cuisine. If you adore Japanese food and drink — sushi, yakatori, tempura, saki — you’ve probably scooted around town to DC’s numerous Japanese eateries. But hold on!

The new Zeppelin restaurant in the Shaw neighborhood has opened recently, and on its corner location it attracts all sorts of sushi/sake-hungry folks. Besides, it offers a happy hour with assorted cocktails, including Japanese beers and whiskey, and for people who love to dance, late-night karaoke goes on in its upstairs setting. And for those who love to grab some fresh air, at least during warm weather, Zeppelin offers two outdoor patios — a great way to watch the street scene.

If you are wondering about the rather iconic restaurant name, Zeppelin, try sitting in the downstairs bar area. The bar’s wall looks a bit like the interior of an early 20th century dirigible airship. Why? Well, said co-owner Ari Wilder, “It’s like taking a cruise ship by air; it is whimsical, and people think, ‘It is whimsical and transports me by way of a zeppelin.’”

But the real reason to head here is for the awesome fresh, fresh, fresh seafood with the seafood transported several times a week from Japan. Quality “fishy” creations are overseen by Japanese and Tokyo-born chef Minoru Ogawa. Whatever one orders are usually unique but totally authentic — nothing has been Westernized to satisfy the American palate.

photo–Alexandra Greeley.

The regular menu has been categorized by several sections, starting with appetizers, then “for the table,” — donburi, yakatori, and okonomiyaki. But the restaurant also offers a special just-sushi menu, and if you crave yummy raw fish, read it over. Choices range from sashimi (slices of raw fish), nigiri (slices of raw fish on a wad of cooked rice), to maki (raw fish wrapped in seaweed).

photo–Alexandra Greeley.

As one contemplates the menu, consider some appetizers, such as the classic miso soup, edamame (steamed soybean with sea salt), and/or a seaweed salad. Moving on, the menu outlines a mile-long list of yakitori (skewered meats or seafood), and these offerings range from mushrooms, to beef tongue, to short ribs, to chicken heart, to pork with scallions, and to many, many more.

But sushi/sashimi fans may just make their way to the kitchen’s special menu, and order a platter that contains an assortment of favorites: for sashimi and nigiri, there is King salmon, black and red snapper, very fatty tuna, shrimp and yellowtail, plus more. The maki options include yellowtail again, fatty tuna with scallions, and the perennial fave, the California roll. You can also order chirashi, which is a rice bowl topped with raw shrimp or even, oddly, the very Latino ceviche. Take your pick and order the overflowing platter. Then sip sake or whisky or beer, and enjoy the scene.

For something sweet, you have a choice of mochi (Japanese rice cakes) made from short-grain Japonica glutinous rice. For anyone craving an unusual sweet treat, an order of mochi is the perfect ending to this “fishy” meal.

Zeppelin / Sun.-Thu. 4pm-2am, Fri. & Sat. to 3am. (202) 506-1068.

 

 

Alexandra Greeley is a food writer, editor, and restaurant reviewer. She has authored books on Asian and Mexican cuisines published by Simon & Schuster, Doubleday, and Macmillan. Other credits include restaurant reviews and food articles for national and regional publications, as well as former editor of the Vegetarian Times and former food editor/writer for the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong. Click here to visit her website.