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Posted at 3:47 PM ET, 03/25/2009

Sushi Happy Hours: Let's Maki a Deal

By Fritz Hahn

While I love getting half-price burgers or wings to go along with my happy hour drinks, I'm a sucker for after-work sushi deals. There's something about using chopsticks that makes grabbing a snack seem much more urbane, even if you're just sitting at the bar. A number of restaurants throughout Washington offer sushi happy hours, but these have maki, nigiri and drink specials that stand out from the crowd.

Current offers tasty, afforable sushi in an upscale lounge setting. (Kevin Clark/The Washington Post)

Cafe Asia
When: Monday-Friday, 4:30-7:30 p.m.
The Deal: $1.25-per-piece nigiri, discounted rolls (starting at $4.50 to $5 for six pieces), $2.75 pints of Kirin beer, $2 small carafes of house sake (three shots), $4 large carafes of house sake (six shots), $4 cocktails.
Why You Should Go: The granddaddy of D.C. sushi happy hours runs a half hour later than most of its competitors, which is great for days when you're at work longer than you thought you'd be. Specials are available at the bar only, which at the D.C. location is a small space, but the sushi is good quality and the warm sake goes down very easily -- order the larger size to share with a friend.

When: Monday-Friday, 5-7 p.m.
The Deal: $3 miso soup and edamame, $4 rolls and nigiri, $5 beers and house cocktails, $6 house wine
Why You Should Go: On weekends, DJs spin thumping music and bartenders whip up fancy cocktails for a dress-to-impress crowd. During the week, though, Current's happy hour is a good reason to stop in and have a look around. Chefs prepare excellent miso soup and large maki at the L-shaped sushi bar. The selection changes daily, but the spicy white tuna and yellowtail with scallions have been tasty in the past. Wash them down with beer or a cucumber-flavored vodka martini.

When: Monday-Friday, 5-7 p.m.
The Deal: Half-price appetizers, soups, salads, and maki rolls, $4 draft beers, $6 mojitos, margaritas and house wines, $7 house cocktails.
Why You Should Go: Mauricio Fraga-Rosenfeld's lounges -- Chi-Cha, Gua-Rapo, Gazuza -- are more associated with cocktails and cool music than killer sushi. But stylish Mate, tucked under the Whitehurst Freeway in Georgetown, offers a solid menu and discounted drinks after work. The maki aren't groundbreaking -- $3.50 spicy tuna, $3 eel and avocado, $3 yellowtail and chives -- but the price is great. I generally avoid the sweet, fruity house cocktails and stick with the $4 pints of Stella Artois or Amstel Light.

When: Monday-Thursday, 5-8 p.m.
The Deal: Rolls $5-7, cocktails $7,
Why You Should Go: The most upscale sushi happy hour also has some of the highest prices. Fellow Guru Julia and I stopped by recently and loved everything we had; the smoked salmon with egg, capers, cream cheese and onion, and the spicy crunchy tuna were made with top-quality ingredients. To drink, there's a menu of house specialties: I liked the cocktails made with soju, a Korean grain alcohol similar to vodka, while Julia enjoyed the sangria. You may pay more here, but nigiri come in groups of three instead of the usual pairs, and long rolls are sliced into eight pieces instead of six.

Sticky Rice
When: Monday, 10:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m.
The Deal: Half-price sushi (rolls $2.12-$5, nigiri $2.50-$3 per pair)
Why You Should Go: While most sushi happy hours cater to office workers who've just punched out for the day, Sticky Rice's late-night party is targeted at local residents and people on H Street bar crawls. The fish is delicious, the rolls inventive. Try the spicy Snap Crackle and Pop, where the flavor comes from salmon and jalepenos, and the crunch from tempura bits, or the Philly Roll, an inside-out special with smoked salmon, cream cheese and scallions.

Have a favorite sushi happy hour we missed? Tell us about it in the comments.

-- Fritz

By Fritz Hahn  | March 25, 2009; 3:47 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs  
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Temple Lounge also has great HH beer and sushi specials!

Posted by: sd0202 | March 26, 2009 8:51 AM | Report abuse

I concur!! $3 shooters and $.99 select sushi from 5-8PM.

Posted by: jadeho1 | March 30, 2009 5:03 PM | Report abuse

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