Zeppelin Sushi and Kareoke Opens Monday
Zeppelin, the newest restaurant from the team behind Chaplin’s ramen and cocktail bar in Shaw, opens Monday at 1544 Ninth St. NW in the former Shaw Bijou and French Quarter Brasserie building.
Mixologists and brothers Ari and Micah Wilder have teamed up with their Chaplin’s business partner, Adrian Williams, and veteran Japanese chef Minoru Ogawa of Sushi Ogawa on the new 220-seat restaurant that is part cocktail bar, part omakase counter, part Japanese izakaya and part late-night karaoke bar. Ari, Williams and Ogawa first first worked together more than 10 years ago at Café Japone, Dupont’s storied sushi/karaoke dive.
Located just down the block and across the street from Chaplin’s, Zeppelin offers an omakase experience, along with edomae-style sushi, yakitori and other dishes. It will feature more than 30 different varieties of seasonal fish and shellfish that Ogawa personally hand selects from the Toyosu Market in Tokyo and imports directly to the restaurant, along with sake and craft cocktails.
New York City’s Reid & Taylor Studio designed the 3,000 square-foot, two-story restaurant. The 20-seat cocktail bar on the first floor has custom metal and cherry wood that is inspired by the 20th-century German airship. Vintage Japanese silk cast in resin line the walls. The first floor also offers high booths where diner can order traditional yakitori from the open-kitchen.
An 800 square-foot, 65-seat outdoor patio will be available during the spring and summer. The patio is equipped with old lamp posts and a black and white Godzilla film mural, which covers the side of the building facing Q Street, NW.
At the top of the stairs, Ogawa will offer a chef’s tasting menu of sushi at the 12-seat omakase counter. Three options are available: The first includes 15 pieces of nigiri, priced at $65 per person; the second includes a trio of appetizers, clam miso soup, 15 pieces of nigiri and dessert, for $85 per person; and the third includes a trio of appetizers, clam miso soup and 15 pieces of nigiri, followed by seven pieces of sashimi and a hand roll for $100 per person. Seatings are available at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. by reservation only. Sake, wine and champagne pairings along with cocktail and spirit components also accompany the omakase.
In the 65-seat second-floor dining room, Ogawa, who previously ran sushi programs at every Mandarin Oriental on the East Coast before Sushi Capitol in 2013, will offer more seasonal, wild caught fish and shellfish in nigiri, sashimi, maki, yakitori and other Japanese dishes. The dining room will become the karaoke parlor at 10:30 p.m. (or when the last omakase diner is finished) with a $10 food and beverage minimum per person. Songbooks include more than 30,000 titles in English and Japanese with two big-screen TVs playing videos, while singers belt out the tunes from cordless microphones at their tables.
A simple sushi and Japanese street food menu is available everywhere except the omakase counter. Dishes include skewers, tempura, donburi rice bowls, shumai dumplings and takoyaki (octopus balls). The yakitori items are cooked on a Japanese binchō-tan charcoal grill. Sushi and nigiri ranges from $2.75-market price per piece; maki ranges from $4-$16.75; appetizers range from $5-$18; donburi bowls range from $12-$23; and yakitori ranges from $2.50-market price.
The bar will serve an eclectic wine list with 40 wines available by the bottle and 15 wines by the glass. Prices range from $25-$300 by the bottle and from $6-$20 by the glass. A collection of 37 premium sakes ($24-$362), 27 Japanese inspired craft beers by the draft, bottle or can ($6-$27) and 11 signature cocktails ($12) including four on draft and six from a highball machine are on the menu. There is also a rail vodka made with Japanese rice and gin distilled with yuzu.
Zeppelin is open for dinner from 5 p.m.-2 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 4 p.m.-3 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Weekend brunch will be added later.
Editor-in-Chief Mark Heckathorn is a journalist, movie buff and foodie. He oversees DC on Heels editorial operations as well as strategic planning and staff development. Reach him with story ideas or suggestions at dcoheditor (at) gmail (dot) com.