Tono Sushi serves tasty, intimate fare

Tono Sushi 2605 Connecticut Ave. N.W. Metro: Woodley Park-Adams Morgan (red line) (202) 332-7300 www.tonosushi.com $10-$15

Grade: A

The name Tono Sushi cannot properly describe what customers will find at this quaint and novel restaurant, which makes Japanese and Asian cuisine not only a fine meal but also a cultural occasion.

The restaurant is somewhat small but inside it is quite a display. As patrons walk through the foyer and enter the restaurant, they can immediately sense the camaraderie at the colorful sushi bar. Near the front of the restaurant, there is a small platform and two floor tables where seated customers take their shoes off for a truly authentic Japanese dining experience. Scrolls of Japanese samurai and landscape scenes adorn the walls surrounding the floor tables. If customers walk in at the right time, they might be able to get a seat there, which is a very worthwhile experience.

As guests are being seated, they'll notice how waves of midnight blue and cherry blossom pink cascade across the room as waitresses roam from table to table in exquisite kimono outfits. It's the perfect eye candy for taking in the aroma of sweet, fresh sushi and overwhelmingly satisfying smell of stir-fry. The intimate space and rich smells make the restaurant warm and toasty for a relaxing evening.

The restaurant's amber-lit atmosphere begins to heighten a customer's appetite the moment he or she sits down. The tables are placed so close to each other that one can't help but discreetly eye what nearby people are currently dishing up. For the customer who is trying Japanese or Asian cuisine for the first time, this also helps in scoping out potential entr?e ideas.

Indeed, it can be hard to pick and choose what meal to order at Tono Sushi. The restaurant now offers not only Japanese cuisine but also other Asian fare. There are new curry options and Asian stir-fry varieties, including red or yellow curry and Pad Thai noodles with chicken or vegetables. The Asian cuisine menu can be spicy, but certainly mouth-watering for the regular Thai lover. A recommendation off the Japanese cuisine menu (if you're not in the mood for sushi) is the shrimp and vegetable tempura, a tasty plate of fried shrimp and vegetables given in very generous servings.

Other foods include varieties of noodle soups, teriyaki dishes and a large selection of interesting sushi made by "adventurous sushi chefs," according to Tono Sushi's Web site.

The restaurant is most suitable for two and a great escape into the Far East for long conversations with a close friend or date. A meal at Tono Sushi is a pleasant experience with its delightfully cultural atmosphere and unique menu selections for plentiful servings of Japanese and Asian cuisine.

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