One of the most grateful moments throughout the culinary journey with my wife Jun is when we discover a relatively unknown restaurant that cooks some seriously delicious food. Ever since we moved to the DC metro area, finding a go-to Japanese restaurant had been a struggle for us, which was surprising given the fairly large number of Japanese eateries around here. While I had heard of Nasime before (with an enthusiastic endorsement from a colleague), it took a bit of time due to its location in Alexandria to finally muster a willpower to visit the restaurant. As we entered Nasime, I was immediately struck by the tiny size of the dining space that you not infrequently encounter in Japanese restaurants like a one-counter sushi-ya that is all the rage in New York City these days. Thankfully, unlike those sushi counters in Manhattan many of which are now charging exorbitant amount of money, Nasime charged a fairly bargain price of $95 per person for its seven-course meal. More importantly, we were huge fans of the soulful Japanese cooking coming from the kitchen.
Nasime is run as a one-person operation at the kitchen by chef Yuh Shimomura, a shy-looking gentleman quietly working his craft throughout the night. It was a fairly cold winter night when we visited, so we were thrilled to find a warm broth of yuba wrapped Chilean seabass accompanied by gingkoes that you rarely see outside of Korean and Japanese cuisine. After hastily finishing the bowl to warm ourselves, we both realized that Nasime was no ho-hum Japanese establishment. The only shortcoming of the wonderfully seared Japanese wagyu short rib with truffle shoyu sauce was that there was not enough rib; even knowing that this dish was meant as an appetizer, I just wished I could savor more of this wonderful dish. The assortment of sashimi (otsukuri) that came as a third course was also fresh and thoughtfully prepared.
The best dish of the night for both of us was the lobster agedashi bowl with crab cake stuffed inside. It was an upgrade version of the agedashi tofu that we had frequently eaten at izakayas, and a remarkable one at that with hearty broth and impeccable texture of the crab cake. I would happily come back to Nasime every time this dish is available (the menu at the restaurant frequently changes, sometimes even on a weekly basis depending on the availability of ingredients). The other savory dishes, the steamed eel wrapped rice ball and the rich oxtail ramen, were also delicious, and the lone dessert of the cinnamon ice cream with house made shio koji (a type of traditional Japanese marinade) was not overly sweet to our liking.
As noted above, Nasime is a tiny restaurant with only a handful of dinner tables and one counter that fits no more than six people. If you are looking to get a reservation at the table (highly recommended) to watch the chef in action, especially on the weekend, advanced planning (via Resy) is essential. There is a nice selection of sakes from various corners of Japan that you should consider ordering to complement the dishes at the restaurant. I cannot wait to go back to Nasime when the menu changes along with the season. The trip to Alexandria from our Bethesda home was absolutely worth it and it quickly became one of our favorite Japanese restaurants in the DC area.
KenScale: 8.25/10 (Jun’s Score: 8.25/10)
Address: 1209 King Street, Alexandria, VA 22314
Reservation via Resy