East Side News

January 2019

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The stylish inside of Nama, the new sushi joint in Mount Vernon Triangle. Photo: Taylor Barden Golden

A Nama for the Ages?
It’s no surprise there is a new restaurant in the small piece of real estate next to Alta Strada on K Street NW. But this one might stick around for a while. Restaurateur Michael Schlow, of pop-up conceptions Conosci, Calle Cinco and Adachi, has designed his newest concept, sushi restaurant Nama, to last. Nama has been open now for over two months, a recent record for the space and its chef-owner.

Although from the outside Nama could look like your neighborhood sushi joint, the inside is just as warm and chic as the previous incarnations. There truly hasn’t been much, if any, change to the vintage yet modern feel. The back bar has been repurposed, at least in part, to act as a sushi bar.

Not much about the space screams sushi except the menu, which is of course the most important part. The offerings are entirely sushi or sushi-related small plates. Raw fish is a clear feature of the menu, which makes a lot of sense considering the space once housed pop-ups due to the incredibly small kitchen.

“Having prior experience in the space with pop-ups like Conosci, Calle Cinco and Adachi, we knew what was possible and what type of dishes we should stay away from. We didn’t have to compromise when we designed the menu at Nama, and we’re really happy with what we are able to offer our guests,” explains Schlow. “When I was thinking about the different concepts that could be executed in the space, Japanese was always at the top of my list. We have a Japanese restaurant in Birmingham, Michigan, called Adachi, so creating Nama seemed like a natural progression and a smart move given there is no sushi in the neighborhood.”

Nama is certainly filling a neighborhood void in a city that loves its raw fish. Schlow continues, “At Nama, we have the freshest sushi, sashimi and maki rolls, but we offer so much more. There’s a little something for everyone, including vegetarian sushi for people that may not be into raw fish.”

Schlow is committed to bringing great food to Mount Vernon Triangle, as he also owns the adjacent Italian restaurant Alta Strada. “I believe that Mount Vernon Triangle will continue to be an interesting, growing, diverse neighborhood, and as a member of the community, I want us to be part of the culinary scene there and bring our friends and neighbors delicious, approachable experiences.”

Warm Meals, Warm Hearts at Asbury UMC
For the past 20 years, the members and volunteers of Asbury United Methodist Church have been supporting the homeless in their local community. While the milestone went unnoticed with no fanfare at the December breakfast, the occasion provided an opportunity to reflect on the long-running Sunday Breakfast Program and the effect it has had on the congregation and the volunteers.

The event takes place on the fourth Sunday of every month. Not only is a warm and hearty breakfast served, there is a presentation by renowned surgeon Dr. Clive Callender on good health practices, and a prayer and mini-sermon from Pastor Matthew Wilke. Adding to the welcoming feeling of the event, homeless neighbors are seated while they are served their plates and beverages by volunteers who are coordinated by church member Carlotta Jones.

In addition to the breakfast, participants can “shop” for needed toiletries, all provided by the church. This part of the program appears to have the largest draw as there are few like it in the city. On average, the breakfast program feeds well over 300 people. The church pays for the breakfast and the toiletries.

Fraternity Alpha Phi Alpha joined forces with Asbury UMC in early 2017 and has become the driving spirit of the breakfasts. Its members provide a majority of the volunteers who serve the stomachs and hearts of the homeless participants, bringing a lively sense of joy to the festivities.

Service has been a pillar of the fraternity throughout its 112-year history. “It is a great experience for our members that volunteer. You truly learn that no person and no story is the same and that everyone deserves the dignity of a delicious meal and a warm welcome,” says Michael Matthews, vice president of the local Alpha Phi Alpha chapter.

Asbury UMC is located in a growing part of the city that is increasingly affluent, yet many in the neighborhood struggle with homelessness and hunger. The church had been providing a Christmas meal for the homeless but did not have an organized program in place. That changed in 1998, when Sandra King-Shaw, a longtime Asburyan and a respected lay leader in the Baltimore-Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church, advocated for a dedicated Sunday breakfast program.

Founded in 1836, Asbury UMC is the only black church in the city that is still located where it was established. The church was organized by members of Foundry United Methodist Church upset by that church’s practice of racial segregation during services and church operations, and is on the District of Columbia Register of Historic Places because of its connection to the Underground Railroad and the civil rights movement of the 20th century.

 

Taylor Barden Golden is a real estate agent with the Stokes Group at McEnearney Associates Inc. A former Hill staffer, Taylor lives in Brentwood with her husband, two dogs and a cat. She’s always on the lookout for new places to explore and ways to spend time outside. Get in touch: taylor@midcitydcnews.com; @rtaylorb.