Robyn Visits Nori Asian Bistro


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.

11 Comment

  • Yeah, I went into that place back when it was still Mayorga and the setup was so weird with the coffee shop downstairs and the swanky bar area upstairs. Now that it’s a sushi place I’ll definitely have to check it out again. $9 bento boxes are the bomb!

  • Their predecessor’s bibimbop rice was so delightfully delicious and close to home, I was very sad to see it go. I almost ate here a couple weeks ago, but the menu just wasn’t inspiring.


  • I’m a huge Kaz fan, but my husband and I were eager to try out the new sushi place in the neighborhood, so we’ve been to Nori twice now. I thought the nigiri was incredibly fresh and good for a great price (usually white tuna is $4.25 per piece, here that’s the price for two pieces). I thought their rolls were unique – the Fire roll in particular is excellent. I even tried a vegetarian roll this last time (usually I think that’s a waste of rice), and I loved it.

    Service can be slow, so going before 7pm is faster, but I really like the staff and the food and I hope they stay.

    Oh, and they do mushrooms in the vegetable tempura – I don’t understand why more places don’t do that!

  • Does it seem to be a comfortable place for solo diners? (Bar seating or maybe small tables for two?)

  • I’ve eaten there twice, at the sushi bar, alone and I was very comfortable.

    By the way, if you miss the Korean, just hit Adams Express over in Mount Pleasant … better food than the prior Mayorga in any event. and cheaper too.

  • I would love an old country buffet… perhaps thats my in as a profitable CH real estate venture.

  • Yeah,. At first I thought you were saying an Old Country Buffet WAS moving in.. Oh well. I can dream, can’t I?

  • Christina – It’s fine for lone diners, but I would encourage bringing someone to taste more of the menu.

    New2CH – Adam Express is amazing. Where else can you get a sweet old couple serving up the best Korean you’ve ever had? Their collection of God videotapes is a tad weird, though.

    Old Country Buffet fans, really? I mean, really?

  • I just went to Nori last weekend for the first time, and was pleasantly surprised. We had some fried tofu as an appetizer and the portion was really generous. We had a noodle soup and fried rice and they were both very good. It’s not the best ever, but for the price and location I am very pleased. And ditto to Adams Express comments, that place is so great!

  • haha I just ate at old country buffet on Sunday!

  • You should try Sakana in Dupont Circle for yummy sushi! I just went there for the first time on Saturday night, and I wrote a review for Too Shy to Stop, which you can read here.

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