Everyone had one of those ever-changing stores in their town. In my Maryland hometown, it was the video store that turned into a pet store, to a consignment shop, and eventually settling as an Old Country Buffet (ick). In Columbia Heights, it’s the building that was a Mayorga coffee, then a bar/lounge with hip-hop/DJ nights, a short-lived (yet tasty) stint as a Korean restaurant, and now Nori Asian Bistro and Sushi Bar. Nori is trying its hand at a location cursed with unsuccessful ventures; can they break the failed business model mode?
With DC’s sushi resume (sushime?) including Sushi-Ko, Sushi Taro, and Kaz Sushi Bistro, any restaurant featuring rice + seafood + seaweed has a lot to live up to. In terms of sushi quality, Nori Asian Bistro is about three steps up above from Whole Foods. That’s not necessarily a bad thing (WF sushi is actually quite good), but if you are going specifically for rolled up goodies, you may find their sushi a tad on the dry side. Their other specialties, noodles and stir fry dishes, are authentic, not too greasy, and served with a slightly over-eager smile. The best bet? The Bento box – a HUGE meal featuring a choice of meat (I had the perfectly-cooked spicy pork), sushi, sashimi, salad, and a collection of wonderful wonton-esque fried concoction. For $9, it’s a steal, considering Sushi-Ko’s bento boxes run up to $16. All in all, I hope that despite the cursed status of that commercial corner, Nori stays to add a unique flavor to the growing single-establishment Columbia Heights restaurant community. May God help us all if an Old Country Buffet moves in.