Kushi Izakaya and Sushi is the best sushi in DC. So we can skip all the gushing over the secret sauce in the pork belly maki and the red redness of the tuna sashimi. The Japanese eggplant is out of this world: hardly even eggplant, the spicy sauce that comes lightly painted on top makes it even more mysterious and delicious. But we’re not doing that! This is about giant ramifications of procrastination of the Groupon variety.
Kushi fills a niche market in Washington. It is centrally located (at 5th and K NW, just off the edge of Chinatown) and large enough to accommodate crowds of hungry customers.
These factors, plus the fact that yesterday was the last day to use the Kushi Groupon ($50 for $25), made for a perfect storm. Way back in October when the deal went public, I thought, Oh I’ll have tons of time to use my Groupon. But as the cut off date ebbed closer and closer, I and many of the 7,000 other people who bought the same deal realized that we could no longer get reservations and converged on Kushi when the doors opened for dinner at 5:30 like seagulls on a fishing trawler.
You can’t fault the restaurant for sticking to their guns with the old When your entire party has arrived, we’ll put your name on the list ploy. But when Plan B, to just order carryout and get the hell out of Dodge surfaced, the management had made the decision to no longer take carryout orders. Sorry, we’re just too backed up.
Plan C: order dinner from the bar and hold on tightly to our bar stools. People did not stop pouring through the doors until at least 7:30, when most had given up hope of ever getting any delicious maki ever, and most of them ended up in the increasingly crowded bar area. The bar was out of Kirin Light by 7:00 when the Asahi started sputtering out of the tap.
The servers had the look of ER nurses in the middle of an 18 hour shift. One waitress told me that the last two weeks before the Groupon expired had been crazy, so imagine the very last day. Most could communicate with other staff without words, just with touches and looks. They were all in the trenches together, waiting for it all to be over. They may have been wishing for the good days back at Sticky Rice (staff can graduate from Sticky Rice to Kushi, as it were).
The hostesses who were in charge of seating seemed to get the worst of it, and they gave as good as they got. There’s a point you reach when you just don’t care what the next question is, the answer will be no. That was the hostess situation at Kushi. Can you blame them? No. Were they still awful to behold? Oh yes.
Kushi is an amazing dining experience. I can’t even recognize most of the ingredients that make up one dish there, but I know that they are amazing. The care of presentation and preparation alone makes the customer slow down and appreciate each part of his meal, which is what sushi should be about.
The lesson here? Don’t wait til the last minute! Use those Groupons, people, the end is near.