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Masako Morishita’s guide to Washington DC comfort food

Chef Masako Morishita and the US Capitol.

Scott Suchman/iStock

Masako Morishita’s guide to Washington DC comfort food

The 2024 James Beard Foundation nominee and Executive Chef of Perry’s Restaurant reveals her favorite comfort-food spots in DC to hit for sandwiches, sushi, salad, and more.
30 April, 2024

The last few weeks have been a blur for Masako Morishita, Executive Chef of Perry’s Restaurant in Washington DC.

Not only did the James Beard Foundation nominate her for its 2024 Emerging Chef Award presented by S.Pellegrino, but The US Department of State tapped her to prepare a state luncheon to honor Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio’s official visit to the U.S.

For almost two years, Morishita, former captain of the Washington Commanders football team cheerleading squad, has run the kitchen at Perry’s, a 40-year-old restaurant, and is attracting attention for her Japanese comfort food.

Working in restaurants, she loves taking care of people, but sometimes, she wants to be taken care of herself. This list features places she returns to repeatedly, that do exactly that.

Here are Masako Morishita’s favorite restaurants for comfort food in Washington DC.

2Amys Neapolitan Pizzeria

“When I go there, I’m like, ‘I’m going to church,’ because I just worship them so much. The seasoning on their dishes is very light, [just] salt, olive oil, to me it’s just really comforting. They do this steak night probably once or twice a week. [Using] dairy cow, they make a special steak and that’s always phenomenal and they only do it rare.”

Compliments Only

Crunchy Boi at Compliments Only in Washington DC.

Courtesy Compliments Only

“When I don’t work in the restaurant, I usually work from home doing emails and stuff; sometimes I don’t have time to cook, so I always get delivery, and their sandwiches are just always so, so good. My absolute favorite sandwich in DC is by them, it’s called crunchy boi— they put potato chips in a sandwich.”

Old Ebbitt Grill

Seafood platter at Old Ebbitt Grill.

Courtesy Old Ebbitt Grill

“I love their seafood platter called orca, and they have a killer happy hour every day from 3 to 5pm and after 11pm, [when] their platters, oysters and the seafood are discounted. I go home happy.”

Sushi Taro

“When I eat their food, I’m happy. When I first moved to DC, I lived close to Sushi Taro and the chefs there, chef Nobu [Yamakazi] and chef Masa [Kitayama], they were kind of like my big brothers because they always looked out for me, encouraged and supported me. One of the things I really like is the beef dish, hobayaki. They bring out a personal-sized grill to the table and there’s a houba leaf with sweet miso.”

Queen’s English

Silken tofu at Queen's English in Washington DC.

Courtesy Queen's English

“Chef Henji [Cheung] does Hong Kong classics plus different elements. He has this housemade, silken tofu, it’s really like silk, the texture of it, it’s perfect. The sauce is so light and well balanced. Also, they have a cool wine list recognized by Michelin.” [Michelin named co-owner Sarah Thompson its 2023 DC Sommelier of the Year].

The Red Hen

Ricotta toast at The Red Hen in Washington DC.

Scott Suchman

“They do these upscale, casual Italian dishes and it just tastes so good—I love carbs. And they do it perfectly. One of my favorite dishes is ricotta cheese toast. It’s a perfect balance of savory, sweet, creaminess, all in one toast.”

Saku Saku Flakerie

Pastries at Saku Saku Flakerie in Washington DC.

Yuri Oberbillig

“This is owned by a Japanese woman Yuri [Oberbillig], she happens to be from the same city as I’m from, Kobe [in Japan]. She makes these French-inspired Japanese pastries, [the] croissant is amazing—the flakes inside are always on point.”

Thip Khao

Chef Seng Luangrath.

Photo by Noh Leftovers

“Chef Seng [Luangrath] is the owner of this restaurant. This is like her version of Laotian comfort food, it’s just heartwarming. Every time I go there, I feel warmth from her dishes. There’s a laab salad with a little minced meat—I like fried pig’s ear. It’s very bright and light, and it’s like their street food.”