The bucket of tater tots has arrived at Sticky Rice, and I’m trying to figure out whether Kaz Okochi, chef and co-owner of the refined Kaz Sushi Bistro, will indulge in the processed snack at this semi-boho, pan-Asian, highly Americanized sushi house on H Street NE. He takes one of the bronzed nuggets, dips it in the spicy sauce and gobbles it like a pro. Before long, he’s outpacing my own tot consumption.
When I finally ask his opinion of the potato poppers, the usually composed Okochi gives it to me straight: “I love them,” he says. “I keep eating them.”
I offer this anecdote as a relevant peek into Okochi’s personality: He’s no snob. He’s not some 50-year-old crank — well, he did hit the half-century mark last year — who totters to the screen door on lazy Sunday afternoons to yell at the kids to get off his lawn. He’s an open-minded guy, certainly when it comes to the kind of restaurants that Americans care to frequent. He knows dining all boils down to enjoyment, not some mystic quest for authenticity every time you enter an eatery.