A recent cold, rainy evening inspired a night of sushi with some friends at Aoki on Capital Hill. Aoki has a couple of simple vegetarian rolls, but no real clincher on the menu and I decided to order non-sushi items for my dinner instead of requesting anything special from the sushi bar.
Many sushi restaurants have a delightfully low-priced simple salad on their menu, and Aoki is no exception. For $1.50, I received a nice size bowl of crisp ice burg lettuce with thinly sliced red onion in a delicious sesame dressing.
I also ordered my Japanese restaurant standby: Agedashi tofu. If you are a regular reader, you may have noticed that I tend to special order my tofu non-fried. This is because I generally find fried tofu to be a less delicious, unpleasing textured, excessively greasy version of what it could be fresh or steamed, not because I have an aversion to eating fried things. Agedashi tofu is an exception to my general tofu rule in that good agedashi tofu (and I've never had it bad) involves all the best of both worlds: fresh, custardy, smooth tofu on the inside with a delicate but crispy, salty, crunchy crust on the outside. It is an example of deep frying done with a a concerted culinary aesthetic rather than as a default, and it is exquisite.
I also ordered a plate of Yakiudon with tofu. The price for this plate was $6.50, and at that price I wasn't sure if it was going to be a tiny sampling, consistant with what $6.50 tends to get you at expensive sushi restaurants, or a full meal. I was extremely pleased to receive a huge plate of steaming noodles. It is unusual to feel that a sushi restaurant delivers good quantity value for the price (no doubt because all of the non-vegetarian items are so precious), but Aoki absolutely did. Nice.
It was a lovely evening out, just what I needed. Thanks P & B!