FOOD: Konami Restaurant Not Just Another Sushi Spot
May 7, 2010
Following in the footsteps of Jimmy Scarano, I will be supping, sipping and reviewing restaurants in the Falls Church City area. Although the City of Falls Church has many great places to eat, and will be my focus, on occasion I will venture a few steps outside the City and review restaurants that a Falls Church City resident might want to patronize.
My inaugural review is just such a place. I begin with Konami, a Japanese restaurant nestled in a small cove of trees, just off Leesburg Pike, 2 miles northwest of the city. When we recently moved to the area from Bangkok, Konami was recommended to us by friends who knew of our peripatetic palates. We were not disappointed. Looking at Konami from the outside, you might think this is just another sushi spot. However, once inside, you are immediately transported from the hustle and bustle of Leesburg Pike into a spacious, low-key setting with sleek and seductive ambience. Upon entering you are promptly greeted and seated by the friendly wait staff. Traditional Japanese restaurants usually require you to remove your shoes at the entrance. At Konami that tradition is not followed. However, Konami does have both western style and low traditional tables to offer an authentic dining experience.
Once seated, the menu has a large of variety of sushi as well as Japanese cuisine that includes Teriyaki, Tempura, Katsu, Udon and Soba noodles. Bon, the owner, is quite friendly and accommodating, as is the rest of his experienced crew; they will do their best to honor requests that are not on the menu. But don’t be shy, walk up to the sushi bar and ask for Bon.
We have eaten at Konami quite a few times with consistently fabulous meals and service. However, on this occasion I was dining with a friend whose mother is Japanese. We began our dining experience with a sushi roll appetizer that is the chef’s creation. A perfect blend of salmon, avocado, crab and cream cheese, teamed with a special sauce and smothered with roe, it was to die for.
For our main entree we ordered the dinner Bento Box. Bento, meaning single portion or home-packed meal in Japanese, is very common throughout Japan and parts of Asia. We chose the second Bento Box with shrimp, vegetable tempura, salmon teriyaki and California rolls for $15.95.
Even though Bento means single portion, there was more than enough for two. The salmon was fresh, the tempura light and not over-fried, and the shrimp were large and succulent. The two special dipping sauces were authentic and flavorful.
We ordered one of the special sushi rolls from the Special Rolls menu to complement our Bento Box, which I highly recommend, since they are unique and melt in your mouth. We chose the Nobita roll (8 sushi rolls instead of the usual portion of 6) for $14.95, consisting of cooked shrimp, carrot, masago, spicy sauce, topped with escolar, kiwi and mayonnaise balsamic.
As one glances at this list of ingredients, you might wonder how it works. Well, all I can say is it was an explosion of flavor. Although a little pricier than ordering from the sushi roll section on the regular menu ($5-$6), the Nobita roll was worth every penny.
On other occasions, my husband and I have had the Nigiri Sushi from the a la carte section. Nigiri sushi involves two ingredients: sushi rice and a single topping. Typically the topping is tuna, eel, haddock, shad, snapper, or octopus. Depending on the type of fish, it may be served in thin slices, grilled or batter fried.
Because the fish is clearly on display at the sushi bar, and often served raw, the sushi chef selects fish of the highest quality and cuts it meticulously so that it is healthy to eat and aesthetically pleasing. My husband and I have tried a variety of Nigiri Sushi at Konami, including salmon, yellowtail, squid, giant clam, eel, octopus, flounder and tuna. The yellowtail and flounder taste like butter. Even the giant clam, a new taste for me and admittedly not my favorite, was extremely fresh.
We have also tried most of the sushi rolls from the regular menu; my favorite is the spider roll (soft shell crab tempura, avocado, asparagus and roe), which is so large it requires two bites. Konami’s sushi rolls are hard to beat. The rice is fresh, moist and served warm.
The traditional teriyaki dinners are reasonably priced, tasty and filling. We have tried the beef and chicken teriyaki and were not disappointed.
Finally, Konami does have a full bar, including a wide variety of wines and beer, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the sake. Sake has been around for centuries and played an important role in Japanese culture. From its origins as the “drink of the Gods” to its current status as one of the most popular drinks in Japan, sake consumption is increasing on the international stage as well.
Japanese tradition holds that a person must never pour their own sake; instead, another person pours for you, and you do the same for that person. Sake can be enjoyed at quite a wide range of temperatures; even the smallest increase or decrease can subtly change the taste.
In general terms, sake becomes dryer and more flavorful when heated, and crisper and more aromatic at lower temperatures. Filtered versus unfiltered is another option when ordering sake. Regular sake is clear because all the particles of rice have been filtered out. Unfiltered or nigori sake is cloudy due to the particles of rice that were not filtered and therefore have not fermented. Unfiltered sake tends to be a tad creamier and sweeter, so it’s a great way to start or finish a meal.
When ordering sake, have a little fun and try a tasting flight of a few different types. My favorite is cold momokawa silver; however, the momokawa pearl is delightful, served either warm or cold.
If you still have room for dessert, the green tea ice cream is light, flavorful and a great way to end the evening.
Konami definitely is a little gem, tucked away in the woods across from the hustle and bustle of Tysons Mall. (Click for map.)
Summing it up: A
Recommend: Any of the 6 Bento Boxes with complements of sushi, sashimi and Nigiri sushi
Vegetarian: yes, and you may convert any meal to a vegetarian meal
Sound level: 68 decibels/ conversation is easy
Beverages: reasonably priced wine list, beer and large selection of warm and cold sake
Price Range: Appetizers $4-$9, entrees $14-$20
Extras: reservations accepted, although not necessary, credit cards, large parking lot, booster seats, disabled access, Zagat rated
Serving: Lunch and dinner every day; Happy Hours (5-7 p.m. Monday-Friday) – sushi, hot foods and drinks
By (see byline)
May 7, 2010