After more than a year of searching, the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. seems to have finally filled its much-talked about vacancy, with New York City's Sushi Nakazawa agreeing to team with the president-elect's new business venture on Pennsylvania Avenue.
According to the Washington Post, Daisuke Nakazawa, a protégé of legendary sushi chef Jiro Ono, agreed to open the D.C. outpost with Trump roughly a month ago. The new space will function as a sister restaurant to his and Alessandro Borgognone's flagship location in the West Village of Manhattan, and feature an "extremely similar," omakase-style concept.
Last July, chefs José Andrés and Geoffrey Zakarian both walked away from high-profile restaurant deals with the hotel, taking exception to comments Trump made about Mexican immigrants as he launched his presidential campaign. Andrés had planned to open a Spanish-Japanese fusion restaurant, but after he abandoned the project, it was replaced by David Burke's steakhouse, BLT Prime. Nakazawa will effectively replace Zakarian, who backed out a week after Andrés. Both Andrés and Zakarian are now embroiled in lawsuits with Trump over their departures.
Though Sushi Nakazawa's decision will surely leave a bad taste in some customers' mouths, Borgognone told the Washington Post that politics had no bearing on the business' decision to sign on with Trump, adding that the president-elect's "political views are not our political views."
Nakazawa, for his part, will bring some serious pedigree with him from New York. The chef first gained notoriety after appearing in the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi, which prompted Borgognone to contact him about opening a restaurant in the U.S. The duo launched Sushi Nakazawa in Manhattan in 2013 and soon received four stars from Pete Wells of The New York Times.
In a year in which Trump has hurled divisive rhetoric at basically anyone he's wanted to, it comes as little surprise that Japan and its people have not been spared. While the president-elect seemed to have a cordial meeting with Japanese President Shinzo Abe earlier this month, in August, he said Japan could "sit home and watch Sony television" if the U.S. was ever attacked.
Then, during a campaign stop in Iowa, Trump mocked Asians by using an offensive accent during a speech.