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New Tokyo Japanese Restaurant ~ Gaithersburg, MD

Guest contributor ~ Samantha Lee


New Tokyo is an authentic Japanese restaurant in the Potomac Valley shopping center.  Despite its less than prominent location, the restaurant manages to attract devoted customers seeking unique Japanese cuisine.  Among the wide variety of unique small plate offerings, I particularly enjoyed Roasted Nigiri, Takoyaki, Fried Japanese Tofu, Octopus in Honey Vinegar, Shrimp and Vegetable Tempura.


The restaurant is owned by Chef Eizi “Jackie” Nakazima, who studied at the Culinary Institute of Tokyo Busashi School.  Nakazima, an award winning chef, has over 28 years of culinary experience.  In 2004, he opened his restaurant specializing in kaiseki (multi-course meals).  He also serves sashimi, sushi, grilled fish, teriyaki marinated grilled meats, sukiyaki, ramen and many more delicious dishes.


The restaurant is small and homey and can accommodate 45 diners.  It reminded me of a small café in Japan, but with nicer décor.  I was particularly intrigued by the faux crustaceans – lobsters, crabs, crayfish, and fugu – dangling from the ceiling and hanging from the walls.   There is also a vast array of unique Japanese artifacts – Daruma dolls, shoji screens, paper lanterns, and framed artwork.

I believe New Tokyo is the only restaurant in the area that prepares nigiri in the Aburi style, in which the top side of the fish is partially grilled or seared, while the bottom side of the fish is partially raw.  After the seared fish is placed on the oval shaped cooked rice, it is drizzled with a sweet mayonnaise, making each bite of the Roasted Nigiri both sweet and savory.  My favorite part about this dish was the strong char-grilled flavor.  Among the Roasted Nigiri, I’d recommend the Scallop, Salmon, or Fatty Tuna.


Miso Soup

Takoyaki is a small dish consisting of three fried wheat balls, filled with diced octopus and tempura scraps, topped with bonita flakes, and drizzled with a special mayonnaise and takoyaki sauce tasting like sweet, thick Worcestershire.  I liked the crispy outside and soft inside.


The Fried Japanese Tofu comes in 5 pieces, each tempura-battered and deep fried, then topped with bonita flakes. The dish is served in a sweet dashi broth – one made from boiled hot water, kelp, and preserved fermented skipjack tuna.  The tofu is silky and smooth inside.

Among the Makis on the menu, I favored the Lava Roll with spicy sauces on the side. It comes to the table in ten rolls consisting of a raw seafood medley of scallop, smoked salmon, shrimp, crabmeat, white tuna, and avocado rolled in dried seaweed then sticky rice and sesame seeds. The rolls are baked or deep fried and drizzled with mayonnaise, spicy mayonnaise and Rooster sauce. My favorite experience about the Lava Roll is that it is served warm and deliciously crunchy.


As compared to other local Japanese restaurants in Montgomery County, MD, I’ve found that the sashimi/sushi at New Tokyo are very fresh. The sashimi entree is served with lemon, wasabi and pickled ginger on an ice boat, which adds a delightful visual effect.


The ramen at New Tokyo is absolutely delicious too. It consists of freshly made wheat noodles, imitation crabmeat, scallion, miso-marinated sliced pork, and fried wheat gluten in salty miso, fish or pork broth.  It is served with shrimp and vegetable tempura that includes two shrimp, sweet potato, zucchini and kabocha squash served with tempura sauce, a nice blend of dashi stock, mirin, soy sauce, and sugar.  I liked the ramen because it was cooked perfectly – not salty or heavy.


The Grilled Striped Bass is one of the featured items on the menu and is a whole striped bass with head and tail intact, marinated with seasoning, coated with flour, grilled over high heat.  It is served over lettuce with a lemon wedge and seasoned sticky rice topped with sesame seeds. The rice was a nice complement to the fish which was fresh, crispy and not greasy.

Beverages include assorted Japanese beer, Ramune (Japanese carbonated beverage), sake and freshly brewed hot green tea that tastes like roasted rice tea (Genmaicha).  The green tea is served in a cup made of earthenware with Japanese characters engraved on it; the hot or cold sake is served in sake cups with sushi patterns.

To finish off a meal at New Tokyo, you can order rice pudding or green tea ice cream. Overall, New Tokyo Restaurant offers a great variety of delicious Japanese food at a reasonable cost.  The atmosphere is relaxing and comfortable.  Drop by for an authentic Japanese meal when you are in the area.  12115 Darnestown Rd, Gaithersburg, MD 20878  

Photo credit ~ Samantha Lee

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