The crisp look of a sushi bar — light wood, interesting illumination, Japanese artwork, shoji screens — meets the suburbs at Rainbow Sushi in Germantown. Lively western music seeps from the speakers and a television towers over the six-seat sushi bar. The 4-month-old, 40-seat venture rests in capable hands. Fifteen-year veteran Ken Zheng started his career as a sushi chef in Toronto. His five years at Mikasa Japanese Restaurant included training at its Tokyo branch. The Fujiang, China, native spent three years as head chef at Japan House in Aberdeen, Md., then took the helm at Taipei Tokyo 2 in Rockville, opened by his brother John and two partners. Before coming to this country, John Zheng was a chef for five years at Tokyo’s Oishii Sushi, which, if memory serves me (as television’s Iron Chef impresario would say) means “delicious sushi.” At Taipei Tokyo 2, he was sushi bar manager, subsequently answering the call to join his brother as manager in Germantown. While Rainbow Sushi’s décor is traditional, down to the noren (split curtains) on the interior doors, Ken describes the sushi as Americanized, noting that his own sauces are adapted to American tastes. Here, the selection is made up of shrimp, octopus, eel in the traditional sweet soy seasoning, crab stick and California roll (crab, avocado and sushi rice rolled in nori with tobiko (flying fish roe). Can you ever have too much salmon? No, asserts one diner, eyeing her salmon special — six pieces each of salmon sushi and salmon sashimi. Wonderfully fresh (the restaurant orders it every two days), the translucent fish is artfully sliced, revealing pearly concentric arcs. Why eat raw fish? The answer to the question is right here: the delicate, pristine taste and the beautiful presentation.
by M.J. Pleasure, Gazette 2003