Kushi Izakaya & Sushi: Drink More, Eat Less

Eating at Kushi was a learning experience for me. First lesson: the term izakaya refers to a class of Japanese bar that serves food only as an accompaniment to the main attraction – drinks. I came by this knowledge after the fact, but it perfectly captures my experience at Kushi. An array of craft cocktails, many more than I would normally order, formed the centerpiece of my meal. A plethora of tiny, delicious small plates enhanced the flavor of my drinks and eventually satisfied my appetite, but the food itself was not memorable overall. Those craft cocktails, though, will haunt me until my next visit.

My first pick was a Sakura Shochu. Our waiter, who just so happened to be the bar manager, explained that shochu is a Japanese spirit that can be made from a variety of rices as well as barley or sweet potatoes. For this particular drink, he aged shochu in a whiskey barrel before pairing it with Combier cherry liqueur, cherry syrup, and soda – sweet and delicious. After a complimentary shochu tasting, I moved on to my new favorite, the Sake Blossom: a combination of vodka, St. Germain, sake, and lime juice. It was light, tangy, and perfect with everything from tuna tataki to soy ginger fried chicken and day boat sea scallops in yuzu kosho butter. Other cocktail menu highlights include the Ransom Negroni and Liverpool Lush, both made with gin, and the whiskey-laced White Widow.

Our bill at Kushi added up quickly, as bills are wont to do at any upscale small plates restaurant – particularly one with such an addictive cocktail menu. Beer lovers can have a slightly more wallet-friendly experience, since Kushi offers tall Japanese drafts for less than half the price of a cocktail, but for my money the concotions at Kushi are well worth the splurge. Above all, I recommend that you treat Kushi as a true izakaya – come to drink more and eat less. Satisfaction guaranteed.