April 22, 2021


All Things Delicious

Swanky Japanese Restaurant Entangled in Legal Drama Opens at the Wharf

4 min read

NaRa-Ya sits beneath La Vie, from the very same homeowners, overlooking the Washington Channel. Photograph courtesy NaRa-Ya.

A luxe new Japanese cafe at the Wharf is the scene for a person in a sequence of lawsuits alleging money mismanagement and secret scheming involving its unique proprietors. In Might of 2019, Social Cafe Group entrepreneurs Naeem Mohd and Rajiv Chadha, who are also guiding La Vie and Provision No. 14, accused their estranged company associate Mike Bramson of striving to steal absent their Michelin-starred sushi chef, amid other allegations. Almost two years—and a pandemic—later, the lawsuit is nonetheless ongoing with a pretrial convention set for May. Meanwhile, the extended-delayed restaurant—now referred to as NaRa-Ya—finally opened final week with “neo-traditional” Japanese tasting menus from a new culinary group.

Sushi Taro chef Nobu Yamazaki was originally tapped to oversee the menu of what was then heading to be known as Tabu. But he abruptly split in the spring of 2019, all-around the similar time that Bramson was selling again his stake in the restaurant amid a falling out with his associates. Mohd and Chadha allege Bramson secretly plotted to poach Yamazaki to open their possess competing sushi cafe. (The two are partners in a speedy-casual sushi and dumpling stall in Ballston’s Quarter Market place, but very little at this time at the Wharf.) The lawsuit promises Bramson and Yamazaki “purposefully and deliberately misled” Mohd into believing Yamazaki was still aspect of Tabu, and that Mohd finally realized of the chef’s departure from a Metropolis Paper posting. The break up was allegedly a enormous blow to the enterprise that caused “significant damages.”

Meanwhile, a lawyer symbolizing both Bramson and Yamazaki formerly informed Washingtonian that there was no conspiracy. He claims that Yamazaki remaining due to the fact he felt Mohd was a “bully” and was involved that the restaurant was being financially mismanaged after mastering the restaurant’s landlord experienced issued a default see. Mohd’s law firm denied the bullying accusations and blamed the default notice on Bramson’s alleged mismanagement. There’s also an ongoing dispute about Yamazaki selling his shares in the cafe.

Following the huge break up, Mohd and Chadha re-conceptualized the company and transformed the title from Tabu to NaRa-Ya, which is a reference to the historic cash of Japan as effectively as the 1st letters of their names (Naeem and Rajiv). They also turned to Kaz Sushi Bistro chef/operator Kaz Okochi as their new culinary director. They’ve considering the fact that brought in govt chef Lucas Irwin, whose occupation spans from Maui to Vail to Nantucket. He arrives to DC from LoLa 41 in Palm Beach where by he oversaw a menu that ranged from sushi to burgers.

Pan-seared squab with shishito-miso puree and crispy enoki mushrooms. Photograph courtesy NaRa-Ya.

Even though the pandemic has turned a good deal of higher-conclusion eating places more informal, NaRa-Ya is going straight for the luxe with no takeout or outside eating. The restaurant centers all over tasting menus—one with meat and fish ($89) and the other vegan ($75). The former delivers dishes this sort of as kampachi tiradito with kiwi-cherry blossom sauce and pan-seared squab with a shishito-miso puree and crispy enoki mushrooms. The tasting also incorporates a range of sushi, together with some fewer-classic rolls stuffed with Alaskan king crab and purple sweet potato that are topped with wagyu, black garlic aioli, and crispy shallots. For spring, the sushi rice is infused with cherry blossom tea, which Irwin says presents it a floral aroma.

Colorful vegetable sushi is element of the vegan tasting menu. Photograph courtesy NaRa-Ya.

The vegan alternative functions green tea soba noodles with a kombu dashi broth, tofu with a lemongrass-miso glaze, and a mosaic-model sushi roll with seasonal veggies.

A tuna zuke rose is served below a smoke-crammed cloche. Photograph courtesy NaRa-Ya.

The menus arrive with several luxury update choices such as Ossetra caviar, black truffle, and foie gras “snow.” Other insert-ons contain marinated zuke tuna that is formed like a rose and offered tableside under a cherry wooden smoke-crammed cloche. “It’s type of like a choose on Attractiveness and the Beast pretty much,” Irwin suggests. Even much more extravagant: a few ounces of Toki whisky-glazed Japanese A5 wagyu with kabocha-orange puree and a soy-cured jidori egg yolk. Irwin describes Japanese jidori chickens as the “wagyu of chickens,” which produce deep-orange egg yolks prosperous in flavor.

NaRa-Ya’s cocktails infused Japanese components. Photograph courtesy NaRa-Ya.

The foods is accompanied by a substantial sake selection—available by the glass and bottle—and cocktails incorporate substances like yuzu, matcha, and Japanese spirits. An previous-fashioned is infused with toasted brown rice, even though another whisky consume is fat-washed with wagyu. There is also a variety of Toki highballs, such as a person that mixes in Yamazaki 12-year for $36.

NaRa-Ya. 88 District Sq., SW, 3rd ground. 202-301-8145. 

Jessica Sidman

Meals Editor

Jessica Sidman addresses the folks and tendencies powering D.C.’s food items and drink scene. Ahead of signing up for Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Foods Editor and Youthful & Hungry columnist at Washington Town Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.

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