Ask Tom: Are there certain days of the week when it's best to order sushi? Japanese restaurants give readers the scoop.

Jul 15, 2020

Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema entertains your dining questions, rants and raves.

Find all of Tom Sietsema's Washington Post work at

Hi Tom, thanks so much for your columns and these chats. They have been a bright spot during this terrible period. We have a question about sushi. Are there some days that you won’t order sushi? I remember people used to say you shouldn’t order sushi on Sundays or Mondays because restaurants don’t get fresh fish over the weekend. Is this true? We got sushi takeout from a Japanese restaurant we love over the July 4th weekend and for the first time, the fish was not great! We were wondering afterwards if maybe it was because it was over a holiday weekend? We would love to know your advice whether there are days we should avoid sushi. Thanks so much.

Thanks for submitting your question in advance. It gave me the time to reach out to some well-known sushi sources, whose responses are as follows:


Jay Yu/Chef-owner Takumi in Falls Church:

Many years ago, the only sushi-grade fish delivery is from NY. Their schedule is on Tuesday and Friday. Twice a week. They remain the same schedule until today and some sushi restaurants are still ordering from them. They work around it by using a super freezer which can store fish longer. We often hear people ordering hundred pounds of tuna. This is how they keep the fish fresh but not ideal.


Nowadays, at least since we open, we order from DC local fish delivery company for example True World who delivers daily. We usually order the min or slightly more to keep our fish fresh. We order the most from True World. Min order and local business price is not as competitive as NY.


If the text is directed to us, we really have no clue what he/she mean by not fresh. With the hot weather, carry out is not the best. This is why we refuse to expand our carry out business in the first place and we don’t use delivery companies. Everyone is doing carry our business now unfortunately with no choice. Customers that pick up can get to their sushi directly without delivery companies.




Daisuke Utagawa/Proprietor of Sushiko in Chevy Chase


In the old days, back in the 80’s, we used to close Sushiko on Mondays precisely because of this reason; Fishermen took Sundays off. In Japan, top end sushi restaurants have the same schedule as local fish market. Tokyo central market close on Sundays and Wednesdays.


As for US today, there has been a drastic improvement in seafood supply chain in the past decade. The products are handled much better from the point of harvesting to arriving to retail and restaurants. Some fishermen are even incorporating “ikijime”, a technique applied at the moment of harvest to improve the shelf life of fish. Also there are much more products imported from Japan these days. (Think of flying fish! Haha) 

Other than shellfish, Almost all fish will improve with some aging, even, or specially for sushi and sashimi where the state of fish directly translates to the taste of it. 

To that point many top sushi places in Japan don't even serve flounder until three days from harvest. For big tunas, this aging can extend to a week.  (one of the reasons sashimi knife is long and thin is because when cutting aged tender tuna, you need to gently pull the knife against the meat rather than pushing it through the flesh as not to break the grain. Remember how great piece of tuna or toro sushi has the look of fish almost lazily blanketing the sushi rice? That is property aged fish... ) All that of course is dependent on proper handling of the fish in the supply chain.


But of course there are exceptions. My guess is for the 4th of July weekend, many fishermen took a long weekend off and that affected the “normal” supply cycle. I’m sorry that I wont be able to give a definitive guide to which days are better than others to have sushi, as it depends on the schedules and conditions of the supply chain, but I hope this gives some insights to how the fish comes to your plates.




Saied Azali/Owner of Perry’s in Adams Morgan


I find the quality is based more on the chef than anything. Lately, there's been a lot of inconsistency in what we're receiving, resulting in returning the fish upon delivery when it's not good. The chef's responsible for receiving and inspecting those deliveries to ensure top quality and also control how it's preserved to maintain freshness. 

Of course you also need a reputable supplier and awareness of COVID-19's impact on availability. Delivery was only 3 days for a while when the virus hit, but a few weeks ago resumed to 6 days. 

The other variable impacting quality and taste is plating and transportation for carryout.  If sushi is purchased with hot food, it's important it's not bagged together until it is picked up and that it's delivered and enjoyed ASAP. The fish will not go bad if this is not done, but will certainly taste better if it's taken care of that way. 



CHECK IT OUT: My latest round-up of takeout spots features a Gallic theme. If you're looking for lobster thermidor, pate, escargots, duck confit and an opportunity to eat them on a patio, look no further than Convivial in Shaw, Jacques's Brasserie in Great Falls and  La Piquette near National Cathedral.


Good morning, everyone. It feels good to be back in the host seat again. I missed our back-and-forth last week. What's on your mind today?

Hi Tom, I'm having a goodbye brunch with my sister before she moves across the country for a new job. I know this is a luxury, but she graduated this year so I really want to do something special for her. She doesn't feel safe eating inside, so I'm wondering if you knew of a restaurant with an outdoor dining set up that had a good shade/fan situation. I'm very sensitive to heat and never ate outside in the summer pre-COVID, so I'm trying to find somewhere where I'd be the least miserable. Anywhere downtown/Shaw/Dupont/the Hill works. Also, I'm curious what you have heard from people in the industry about the impact of weather on outdoor dining. Would restaurants be making more money if re-opening happened in the spring or fall?

If anyone out there has spotted fans on the exterior of a restaurant, let us know, please. I've not encountered such yet. 


Much like the pandemic, weather is hard to predict. It can be hot in fall and spring (and even winter).  Until this month, rain was the biggest concern for restaurants with outdoor seating. 


I'm writing regarding Seven Reasons' decision to introduce a 22% service fee in lieu of tipping. I applaud Seven Reasons efforts to pay their talented staff wages they deserve and make sure that they have financial security. In our house this has brought up a larger philosophical debate about the process to get to a post-tipping world. My partner looks at this move and sees it as setting an expectation for a service fee plus a tip (which they still accept) that will only grow with time (10%, 15%, 20%). He thinks that restaurants should just build the cost of paying reasonable wages into the menu as you typically see in other countries. I see the service fee as a way to signal to customers that they do not need to tip on top of the service fee but can if they want to reward staff for exceptional service. If restaurants just start incorporating the costs into the menu, customers will accuse them of not being transparent about not expecting tips. Time and new habits are needed for everyone to adjust to the culture change. Have you seen restaurants successfully move to financial structures that don't require tipping and how have they broken the tipping habits of their customers? I'd be particularly interested to know if any casual restaurants have made the move as I've only really seen gratuity built into the prices at high-end places.

I applaud the approach at Thamee. Per my story on the Burmese restaurant in today's Food section:  "No one on staff makes less than $17.50 an hour, a detail made possible by a flat 30 percent added to the base price of whatever the restaurant sells. Gratuities are history. The #Flat30 initiative, effective July 17, also supports health care, professional development and, after a year of service, profit-sharing. The goal, says co-owner Simone Jacobson, is “a livable wage.”

Hi Tom, Submitting early in hopes that you will see this. My family and I are about to begin a 2-week full quarantine before visiting our grandparents. This means no more of the sanity-saving takeout that we have been enjoying throughout the last few months. So, in preparation - - what restaurants would you recommend that offer frozen versions of their dishes that we could stock up on? I am thinking of how Laoban's dumplings at Union Market can be purchased in frozen packs. I am making space in the freezer to support a range of restaurants!

Nothing comes to mind at the moment, but maybe a chatter can help out yet today. Sorry you have to be secluded, but seeing grandparents sounds ... refreshingly normal. 

Hi Tom, As an owner of a restauraurant which only has indoor seating, I am struggling for survival because I can only provide indoor service and carry out. Those of us who are in this situation have deep cleaned our dining rooms and kitchens, rearranged our seating for social distancing, proveded staff with face coverings and hand sanitizer and all other requirements for Covid-19. We finally get to open our doors and our dining room stays empty. I understand people have concerns about dinning indoors. What's more frustrating is when I hear news media strongly recommend outdoor dining. What are your thoughts? 

I really wish there was something I could say to help you, but the sad reality is, a lot of people remain wary about eating indoors. And when some of the nation's top public health/infectious diseases specialists declare they would not yet venture into a restaurant for meal, you can understand why. 

Hi Tom, My girlfriend and I order takeout as least twice a week, sometimes more, in order to do our part helping out restaurants. I don't think the pandemic is going away anytime soon. So that means continued or maybe even increased, takeout options. Takeout is the new normal. That being said, do you feel it's time to at least gently start rating how a restaurant approaches and runs its takeout service? I'm not talking about bashing restaurants on Yelp or other websites. That's for amateurs. I'm talking about serious ratings that might help improve a restaurant's approach and service in the takeout arena. We've had great experiences and horrible ones. I understand that restaurants are struggling to survive, so I'm not going overboard on bad takeout service. But, since takeout is the new normal, do you feel that restaurant reviews covering takeout should also be the new normal? LikeReplyShare

You're reading my mind.  And you're right: takeout is here for the long haul. Readers want timely and accurate information.


Going foreword, I do think I'll be including a few criticisms (if warranted) in my reviews. That said, I don't think I'll be writing any (mostly) negative reviews for a long time; if a restaurant isn't good, you won't be reading about it from me.


Now, as I've written before, is not the time to pile on

I haven't had restaurant-prepared food (or been into DC) since mid March, and hadn't intended on changing either anytime soon for a variety of reasons. This meant my two favorite lunch spots seemed forever out of reach (Muncheez & Shouk). THEN- I read your article in the magazine this weekend about Shouk doing Hood Drops and O.M.G. TOM!! One of the Monday spots is near me so lunch today was a fantasticly delicious reminder of "before times" and how good food I didn't have to make my damn self tastes. The falafel I ordered intending to reheat later didn't survive either. I'd almost forgotten how inferior my homemade attempts are to the "real thing". I can't justify doing it regularly, but this will be my special once (or twice) a month treat. Thanks for giving veg-centric places the love!

You don’t have to live close to either branch of the business to enjoy Shouk, which rolled out its own delivery service, Hood Drop, to neighborhoods across the region in mid-March, partly to feed fans whose jobs used to put them downtown. Brilliant idea. 

Hi Tom - My husband and I are celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary this weekend. We like all kinds of food. What would be a few options for good takeout to splurge on? We live in Fairfax and don't mind a drive to go get it but have young kids at home so can't do a real day trip away. Want to pickup and bring back home. Reheating is okay! Thanks!

Some of the most beautiful and delicious takeout I've encountered thus far has come from Annabelle in Dupont Circle, Convivial in Shaw and Kinship near the convention center. If you want to stay in Northern Virginia, I'd recommend Japanese from Takumi, pasta and dessert from Thompson Italian and Afghan fare from Aracosia in McLean. 

I understand that these are difficult times for restaurants, especially small ones. I get it, that Facebook is free and it costs money to have a webpage and keep it up to date but I have to express frustration with Facebook pages that do not have a menu. It seems like 75% of the times go on a restaurant Facebook page you can't find a menu. I may find a place on Google or TripAdvisor or some other way and look it up the thing I want to see most is the menu. Google has hours and location. I never go to a restaurant if I can't see the menu. In our family I have to deal with an allergy, someone who doesn't eat red meat, plus a few healthy options are nice. I need to know that there are things they can/want to eat. Please tell owners that Facebook is fine and can be great for fans to congregate but if you want new customers an easy to find menu is a must.

Hear! Hear! Easy-to-read online menus are every bit as important as hours of operations, addresses and other key information. Restaurants shouldn't make customers work to see what they're selling. Even now, there's too much competition for our dining dollars. 

Hot, hot fry pan, no oil. Throw in fries, a couple minutes flip or stir until satisfied they are hot enough for you and they will be crispy, too.

This must be in reference to a poster from the last chat, asking how to revive limp takeout fries. Sounds good, and thanks!

Tom, do you have any recommendations for traditional Spanish food take-out, not necessarily tapas unless that's what you recommend? I was supposed go to Spain in April and again in August and didn't/won't get to go either time. If churros are on the menu, all the better. ¡Gracias!

In Washington, you have fine choices in Jaleo in Penn Quarter, one of my hall of fame restaurants, and Joselito on Capital Hill. Part of their charm is the interior, but each restaurant offers socially-distanced al fresco seating. Based on their online menus, it appears neither establishment is serving churros now.  The colorful Colada Shop has what you're looking for, however. The sweet fried pastries cost $4.50

Recently an establishment (more a bar than restaurant) touted its outdoor facility, which was a “room” entirely enclosed with canvas walls. Isn't this about equal to dining indoors?

Though the walls sound soft, they are still walls. The establishment you describe sounds enclosed -- indoors -- to me. 

I miss going to High Tea and the food is the type that would travel well. Are there any DC restaurants that will deliver the high tea experience to your home?

High teas were hard enough to find pre-coronavirius. I know of no such service, but I'll throw out your request -- and keep my fingers crossed. 


UPDATE: Following the live chat, a reader suggested Lady Camellia in Georgetown, where a "full tea" (a choice of sandwiches, pastries, beverage and scones/croissants)) costs $33. 

Tom - I noticed today that Johnny’s Half Shell’s website is no longer valid. I know they had closed (ie, no takeout) during the shutdown, but their website had been up for a while, even during their closure. I’m concerned — that was one of our absolute favorite restaurants for wonderful seafood and exceedingly friendly and attentive service. Do you know what’s up? I’m hoping its shutdown hasn’t become permanent - what a loss for the city.

Good news, straight from a co-owner's mouth: "None of our restaurants are permanently closed," John Fulchino texted me yesterday. Johnny's briefly dark website is up and running again. 

Adding a note here, in hopes that those in the restaurant industry see, that proper mask wear is needed to gain the trust and ongoing patronage of those of us still willing to do takeout or dine in. If I see staff who do not follow proper mask wear (not covering nose or not consistently wearing), I’m going to question whether you’re committed to running a safe shop during this pandemic, and will direct my business elsewhere. A prominent local spot has struck out on this, unfortunately. I’ll continue ordering from places that seem to be taking the right precautions instead. I want to support our restaurant community during this time but it’s a two way street - I order and get to experience meals that remind me of the pre-pandemic world and connect again to what makes the DC restaurant scene so wonderful (and in a small way contribute monetarily to hopefully sustain restaurants through this nightmare), and restaurants in turn commit to following all safety protocol to keep customers and employees safe. It’s the only way this will work.

Yes to all the above. Thanks for summing up the message so eloquently. 

I had dinner Saturday night at Clydes near Mark Center and they had tents and fans set up in the parking lot which made for an enjoyable evening. Masks are required during all interactions with staff (when our entrees arrived, the server stood a distance away and got our attention to mask up before approaching the table). They let us know when we sat that they were limiting each party to 90 minutes and all tables were distanced.

Thank you for the suggestion and the anecdote. I like the idea of servers requiring diners to mask up when communicating with them. It's fair -- and safer for both parties.

Hi Tom, I’ve made it a point to order from local restaurants to support them during the pandemic. But I’m noticing a disturbing trend where I order directly from the restaurant, they hire Doordash or other service to deliver to me, and the order arrives with the wrong items, items missing or, in one case, was left near a dumpster. The delivery service tells me I have to deal with the restaurant directly since that’s who I ordered from. But the restaurant then blames the delivery service and refuses to provide a refund. It’s like blaming FedEx for messing up an order and refusing to take responsibility. How should I handle this?

Pick up the food yourself, if you're able? That way, you can look in the bag and immediately verify that what you asked for is what you got.  Another option is to order from restaurants that do their own delivery, a group that includes Mintwood Place in Adams Morgan. 


How have other people handled these situations, where the restaurant blames the delivery service and vice versa? I've had few problems since March, and I've ordered from multiple couriers and from all around the region.

Hello Tom - Wondering what your thoughts are about The Grille at Flower Hill (Gaithersburg) not allowing it's staff to wear masks, and announcing the decision on Facebook. Based on the comments there and on Yelp, it seems like the owners have just given up on remaining in business. Unconscionable.

In an interview with Bethesda Beat, the owner defended his decision not to require staff to wear masks by pointing to POTUS:  “Who am I to not agree with the president of the United States? He has access to the greatest scientists in the world." 

I'm sure that the poster means "afternoon tea," the cucumber sandwich and other dainties kind. It's a tea party. "High tea" is a working-class supper with cooked dishes, often meat. It's blue-collar. Or, as the great Miss Manners says, "people think it's high society but it's actually 'it's high time we had something to eat.'"

I should have caught that. I know better. Thanks for chiming in. So, the question again: where can someone spot Afternoon Tea?

Hi Tom, My husband and I have a rare night out tonight! We have a 5:30pm meeting at 14th and T. Between there and Chevy Chase, DC where would you stop for higher-end take out with gluten free options that we can pick up on our way home? Open to all cuisines/prices but want to make sure it will travel well on the ride home (not get soggy, etc). Excited to expand beyond the neighborhood pizza/burger/Chinese/Thai rotation for the first time in months... Thanks!

If you haven't tried it yet, Rooster & Owl (2436 14th St. NW) does terrific takeout. The four-course feast, which you have to pre-order, costs $75 a person. This week's choices include watermelon green curry, seafood paella and grilled ribeye with chimichurri. There are also wine pairing options. The restaurant asks that anyone with dietary or other restrictions reach out via email. 

Hi Tom! A while back I purchased a promotion through the Save DC Eats website for a Himitsu Throwback Dinner for 2 by Chef Kevin Tien. The event was to take place at Emilies at some future date. I have read online that Chef Tien no longer works there, so I don’t know what is to to happen to this promotion or the $$ I spent on it. I have tried emailing both Tien (by replying to an email he sent about the event) and Emilies but have not heard back. I realize the purpose of the promotion was to give the restaurant a cash infusion when it was (is) hurting, but I wasn’t planning on just making a cash donation to a place I’ve never eaten at. What do you recommend in this situation? Keep bugging the restaurant to at least get a gift card for the value of the promotion, or grin and bear it? I’m sure all the people who bought the promotion will be in the same boat. Maybe Emilies doesn’t yet know how to handle this, but I think they need to communicate to us that there will be a resolution a some point.

Former Emilie's chef Kevin Tien tells me he's honoring the throwback dinners. He also sent an email to guests on July 8. I'm happy to connect you with him if you write to me at

Tom, Read Kwame Onwuach's memoir while in quarantine and I have to say it is really excellent. He claims in the book you visited the Shaw Bichou on opening night and were recognized immediately and it was obvious you were not pleased. This struck me as odd because I know you always say you do not go to restaurants when they first open. Is this correct? Also, highly recommend the book!

I did in fact visit opening night -- albeit for a preview for my First Bite column.


For reviews in the Sunday Magazine, I always went (past tense!) at least three times for most columns.


I visited Shaw Bijou so early because of the hype surrounding the place. Readers were eager to know more about it.  Dinner was $500 a head, after all. Expectations were high. 

If folks choose not to wear masks thats their right. Dont like it too bad. Sorry governors dont have the authority to mandate this. Harvard Law Class of 84

Um, masks save lives. They're the smart -- and patriotic -- thing to sport in the current pandemic. 

Dear Tom, My husband and I will be celebrating our 50th Anniversary December 5th. We love to cook and eat and are looking for a great place to stay in the South for 3-4 days with wonderful food. We love the Inn at Little Washington but have been there 9 times. We are thinking of the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond or the Biltmore Inn in Ashville. We hope you can suggest something Extra Special. Thanks! Alicia & Bill

If you settle on Richmond, Longoven is not to be missed. The dining room is closed now, but the patio is open. I can't predict what the set-up will be four months from now, but the cooking I had at Longoven last year -- jumbo lump crab salad beneath a nori crepe, cured grilled pork with an an overlay of housemade kimchi —-- was definitely worth the trip. 

Hi, Tom. I enjoyed your profile of Thamee in today's paper, but one sentence utterly baffles me: "Udofia’s monumental fist is surrounded by red hearts and banana leaves, the latter the suggestion of Jocelyn Law-Yone, Jacobson’s mother, business partner and the executive chef at Thamee, whose names translates from Burmese to “daughter.” Can you please translate? Thanks.

Happy to oblige!


The mural is framed in banana leaves.

The banana leaves were the idea of the chef.

The chef is the mother of the co-owner, which helps explain the Burmese name of the restaurant.

One of our favorite local restaurants updates its Facebook page but not its webpage. I am not on Facebook. I don't know what today's special is. I don't order. Lost opportunity for the restaurant (and we used to be regulars to the point that our drinks were on the table when we sat down.) I started following a brewpub in Michigan in March when they sold takeout meal kits that my kid could use. I still do, even living in the DMV. Their webpage is always up to date and the kid sometimes goes there because I've read about it online. I order chain takeout for pickup so I know what I'm getting and can make certain they didn't put cheese on the food (I'm allergic).

Catch that, restaurants? You snooze, the competition gets the money. 

High tea will get you cornish pasties, baked beans on toast and lashings of workmans caff tea. You could make your own afternoon tea - that might be fun and I suspect more satisfying. The food section at this very same newspaper did a whole article on how to host an afternoon tea that's very good. 

Here's Becky Krystal's story, complete with video, from three years ago.

You may have the legal right to behave in a selfish, irresponsible, dangerous manner but it doesn’t mean that it’s appropriate for a member of a civilized society. Georgetown Med Class of 03


Tom - love these chats! I just saw your mention of Kinship as a special event takeout place and all I can say is, yes! We ordered from there for my daughter's 17th birthday about a week ago and it did not disappoint. Fabulous food with generous portions, nice packaging and wonderful staff. Ordering was easy and pick up even easier. Kudos to them and we'll be back.

Thanks for the feedback. Consistency is key!

Turn it into an e-mail to the restaurant? Then if you want to do a review, you already have it written up, but have given the restaurant the chance to discuss it with you first.

An email to a chef or restaurateur is different than a review meant for a broad audience. And while I fact-check my columns before publication, I never show a chef or owner my work in advance. (Happy to discuss the piece afterwards, though.)

Checking in to see if you've made it to King Street near the Potomac in Alexandria, where the entire area is outdoor seating (street closed to cars). If not, I recommend Mia's Italian, perhaps walking back to Metro or a car with an ice cream cone from Pop's.

Thank you for the good suggestion. I'm technically on vacation this week. Pasta and ice cream near water sound like my kind of R & R.


That's a wrap for today, gang. Be well, be safe and let's meet again next week, same time. Chow (literally) for now. 

In This Chat
Tom Sietsema
Tom Sietsema has been the Washington Post food critic since 2000. In leaner years, he worked for the Microsoft Corporation, where he launched; the Seattle Post-Intelligencer; the San Francisco Chronicle; and the Milwaukee Journal. A graduate of the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, he has also written for Food & Wine, Gourmet, GQ, Travel & Leisure and other national publications. In 2016, he received an award from the James Beard Foundation for his series identifying and rating the "10 Best Food Cities in America" the previous year.
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