50 Best Restaurants 2018: Nasime is No. 2

A Japanese restaurant in Alexandria

Nasime Sashimi
Photo by Rey Lopez

The calendar lies. Hot, hot days creep into October. May feels frigid. A better read on the weather: Nasime’s menu. On a slightly cooler day in September, the intuitive cooking of chef and owner Yuh Shimomura—who stays late after each service devising tomorrow’s prix fixe—produced a chawanmushi (egg custard) submerged in a dashi broth with a slip of Oregon truffle and then, the color of a J. Crew model’s red-orange lipstick, uni sourced from Maine, silky and squishy. A double attack of richness. It’s warming, but just a little, enough for a breezy night—and transportive. “This tastes like Japan,” says my friend who visited the country more than a decade ago, but flavors don’t fade.

Nasime remains unlike other Japanese restaurants, or really any type of restaurant, in Northern Virginia. It’s scrappy, refined, otherworldly. Absorb a $55, five-course study in textures and flavors and seasonal poetry: broiled wagyu steak with an almost fishy-savory salsa built from tomatoes, shiso and ponzo; crisp and buttery chunks of Chilean sea bass; fat, chewy udon noodles in a subtle, mushroom broth; soft pink slices of duck over a miso-eggplant puree leaning more Mediterranean than Asian and paired with one perfect disk of melting eggplant, fried for a mere 45 seconds, that is surely the best bite of the night, save for anything, ever, on the sashimi course.

Japanese | $$$$* (pre fixe only)
1209 King St., Alexandria

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