Real Japanese food tucked behind U Street

Izakaya Seki's housed in an old barbershop, but that doesn't mean they're taking any shortcuts: the unmarked (save for a red lantern they'll hang outside when open) V Street zen den's kept traditionally minimalist, and the food's prepared by a 50yr vet chef (and his daughter) who moved here from the Midwest lest he be forced to water down his country's flavors for a less adventurous clientele

Sit at the first-floor chef's bar and get your plates passed directly from the man himself, or head upstairs and take in the hanging bulbs & burnt wood paneling while chowing on decidedly not-sushi like BBQ beef short ribs, skate w/ a sweet soy-glaze, and, most radly, tonsoku: pigs' miso mustard-flavored feet, aka what all those Midwesterners used to run out the door of this guy's original restaurant when they saw tonsoku on the menu. They've got 25 sakes (from honjozo, to junmai, to ginjo... so yeah, just ask for "the cold kind"), and the beer's similarly exotic, with 13 bottles like Coedo and Echigo, in addition to the ubiquitous Sapporo and Kirin on tap

And as was customary in ancient Japan, they aren't taking reservations by phone, but stop by with your name & number and they'll shoot you a text when your table's ready, meaning you'll have a little time to hit U Street for a pre-dinner buzz.