Posts Tagged ‘sushi’
It was a pleasant May in Seattle. I did not feel sodden as I did last spring and we were blessed with many glorious days as a prelude to the northern summer. On a pleasant Saturday we enjoyed apéritifs at Tavern Law and sauntered down to Momiji (紅葉) for dinner with a group of Australian expats and tourists.
With the exception of the wide street frontage, the layout of Momiji is the same as Umi’s. A corridor opened to a spacious dining room. The counter had a prime view of the sushi chefs deftly slicing sashimi and shaping nigiri.
At the centre was a serene Japanese garden.
We ordered an array of dishes among the seven of us. First was ahi pokē. Diced ahi tuna and cucumber were tossed with onion slivers, shichimi (Japanese seasoning), soy sauce and sesame seeds. The first time I ate pokē was at a Flying Fish cooking class. A Hawaiian salad, it had a luscious contrast of textures.
A plate of prawn and vegetable tempura was coated in a lumpy batter and pleasingly crunchy.
Poached beets, and a mound of arugula and shiso were drizzled with lemon vinaigrette.
Portions of grilled king crab was paired with ponzu dipping sauce and mixed greens. A generous serving, the crustacean was charred and meaty.
Soft shell crabs were pan fried to golden brown. The spindly morsels were sweet and succulent.
Wrinkled and charred, the half dozen prawn and scallop gyoza were juicy parcels of seafood encased in a thin wrapper.
Buckwheat noodles were stir-fried with cubes of tofu and an assortment of vegetables. Garnished with green onions, pickles and nori, the triangular bowl of yakisoba was a symphony of flavours.
With casual ambience and quality ingredients, Momiji is a delicious addition to 12th Avenue in Capitol Hill.
A mixed group of Americans and Australians met for happy hour at Nijo last week. Located a couple of blocks south of the Seattle Art Museum, the restaurant is on the Puget Sound end of Spring Street.
A courtyard is fenced by bamboo and would be popular for al fresco dining during summer.
Festive baubles dangled from ceiling lights. There was a bar and a sushi counter, and tables were by the window.
Happy hour is daily, early and late. The beverages menu was the same length as the food menu! A selection of appetisers, maki, temaki, nigiri and sashimi were discounted.
Three large marbles of takoyaki were drizzled with mayonnaise and aonori. A savoury batter ensconced a tendril of octopus.
A generous mound of chicken karaage was served in an odd sized bowl. The chicken pieces were marinated in soy sauce, ginger and garlic, lightly dusted with flour and deep fried.
On the left was spicy tuna roll, a fiery blend of minced tuna and chilli. On the top right was Bainbridge islander roll, prawn, salmon, cucumber and avocado were seasoned with a spicy sauce. On the bottom right was salmon nigiri, a slice of salmon sashimi atop sushi rice.
On the left was ebi nigiri and on the right was seared spicy shiro magura (albacore tuna) nigiri, both were fresh and succulent.
We shared two desserts, tempura ice cream and fried banana spring roll. Green tea and red bean ice cream were cloaked in pound cake and deep fried. I preferred the delicate flavour of the green tea ice cream. There was no crunchy shell and it was more ice cream cake than tempura.
Crispy and sweet, banana and white chocolate were a sugary filling for the spring roll.
We are fond of happy hour in Seattle and Nijo is another recommendation!
Originating from Portland, Mio Sushi recently opened in the Rollin Street Flats building. At the nexus of the Westlake thoroughfare between Whole Foods and the Tom Douglas hub, the location has high foot traffic. There are a dozen Mio Sushi franchises in Oregon and Washington State. The chain is a family friendly restaurant with an extensive menu of traditional and fusion items, sourced locally and sustainably where possible.
On a clear day natural light cascaded in the floor to ceiling windows. A long dining room consisted of comfortable booths and a handful of tables. Fuchsia lamp shades accented the earthy tones.
The sushi menu is laminated and you mark it with a dry erase pen.
Ceramic tea cups are emblazoned with the Chinese and Japanese character for luck.
A cloudy dashi broth with wakame and cubed tofu, the distinct umami flavour of the miso soup was soothing.
Mr S ordered a bento. Clockwise from top left: mixed salad, assorted tempura, agedashi tofu, beef yakiniku and California roll. Served with a bowl of rice, each component of the bento was a generous portion and freshly made.
An appetiser size assorted tempura had crunchy battered vegetables and prawns.
On a sizzling hot plate, the teriyaki had strips of chicken dusted with sesame seeds with a side of steamed vegetables. The syrupy sauce was balanced and I happily emptied my bowl of rice.
As with most eateries in South Lake Union, Mio Sushi was quiet on a weekend but I’ve walked by during the week when it’s been full.
I succumbed to a Groupon deal a couple of months ago. I paid twenty five dollars for fifty dollars worth of food and beverages at Seastar Restaurant and Raw Bar. We were at the Kangaroo and Kiwi Pub in the early hours of Sunday morning to cheer on the Wallabies in the Rugby World Cup. Alas we were disappointed with the result and woke up lethargic. Within walking distance, the voucher was perfect for a lazy dinner.
As with many restaurants in Seattle, Seastar is dimly lit. The restaurant was full so we sat in the bar. A spacious area with individual tables, a communal bench and counter seating, it was a busy evening being the first day of the autumn Seattle Restaurant Week. A single glassybaby was our source of light to read the menu.
The menu was a combination of hot and cold seafood. We selected a soup, a sushi roll and the raw bar sampler to share. The large bowl of Dungeness crab and corn bisque was warming. Absent of corn kernels, the bisque had chunks of Dungeness crab and was drizzled with a Madeira reduction and fresh chives. The Port added a depth of flavour to the bisque.
We misread the menu and expected a plate of tempura but it was futomaki tempura! Coated in tempura batter, the sushi roll had cucumber, carrot, bell pepper, asparagus, green onion and daikon pickle. It was an odd sensation to eat warm sushi but the vegetables were pleasingly crunchy.
The three tiered raw bar sampler was presented with a flourish. On the bottom was scallop ceviche with mango-kiwi relish, lemon, lime and cilantro. Unripe fruits and acidic juices masked the sweetness of the scallops.
In the middle was a California roll of Dungeness crab, avocado and cucumber. These bite size morsels had plenty of fresh crab.
And on the top was ahi pokē. Cubes of tuna were marinated in soy, chilli, Maui onions and sesame seeds. Wafer thin taro crisps were the utensil topped with strands of daikon radish and green onions.
On a glass tile, the aloha roll was bursting with ahi, hamachi, salmon, avocado, cucumber and chilli. This sushi roll lacked the finesse of Japanese cuisine but had an abundance of glistening sashimi.
Service was mostly absent but it was value for money!
I have fond memories of watching Japanese cartoons and animated films during my early formative years. Dr Slump, Doraemon, Captain Tsubasa and Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli activated my imagination as a child and it was in these creative worlds that I encountered my first bento. Some plain, others decorated, single layer or stacked, I was fascinated by the elaborate meal in a box.
Wasabi in Belltown has recently reopened after a refurbishment. The interior is modern with straight lines and a lime colour scheme. There is a bar area and a sushi counter, and mirrors and chrome chandeliers decorate the main dining room.
Only bentos are available for lunch, consisting of miso soup, green salad, sunomono, steamed rice, sushi roll, daily special, dessert and a choice of two items from the menu. I selected salmon teriyaki and agedashi tofu as my hot dishes.
The miso soup was served immediately after ordering. Steaming and nourishing, the bowl of soup was gently seasoned with miso and filled with shredded wakame and cubed silken tofu.
I was astonished by the size of my bento lunch. There were three rectangular boxes with eight compartments in total, each beautifully presented. The contents from top to bottom, and left to right were: agedashi tofu, salmon teriyaki, cream puff and grapes, sunomono, green salad, steamed rice, kaki furai and takoyaki, and spicy yellowtail sushi roll.
Three inside out pieces of sushi, the yellowtail was finely chopped and lightly spiced. I don’t know if there’s a sequence to how you eat bento but I felt that the delicate flavours of the sashimi was an appropriate first course.
I’m indifferent to raw vegetables and I only sampled the green salad. Surprisingly refreshing, the sunomono had thinly sliced cucumbers and rice noodles with peanut sauce.
This version of agedashi tofu was garnished with green onions and grated daikon mixed with chilli, but was without katsuobushi (or bonito flakes). The three generous chunks of silken tofu were encased in a golden crust and soaking in a shallow pool of broth.
Glazed with teriyaki sauce and seared, the salmon fillet was well cooked and flaked easily.
Moulded into the shape of a flower, the pretty mount of rice was plenty to mop up the sticky sweet teriyaki sauce.
This was a curious component of the bento. I expected it to be tonkatsu (similar to schnitzel) but it was kaki furai, fried oyster! Crumbed in panko, the crunchy coating was a contrast to the creamy oyster inside. Hidden behind the kaki furai was a takoyaki, grilled octopus ball. A small piece of tender octopus was concealed in the savoury custard like batter. Cooked in a special pan, like the ones used for poffertjes (Dutch mini pancakes), takoyaki would make a popular addition to food trucks here!
In the dessert section were three red grapes as a palate cleanser. Light and spongy, the cream puff had a chocolate dome with chocolate cream piped into the choux pastry.
A substantial meal but not heavy, the bento experience had the bonus of reminding me of Totoro and co.!
Sushi rolls is considered fast food in Australia. From sushi train (or conveyor belt sushi) to sushi roll counters in food courts, it’s omnipresent in our southern hemisphere city diet.
I love sushi rolls for lunch – it’s cheap, there’s a variety of fillings to choose from and it’s relatively healthy. My favourite place in Sydney to grab a couple of sushi rolls for a quick work lunch is in a grimy train station in desperate need of refurbishment. Yet loyal customers return again and again, a testament to an efficient queue and value for money.
I haven’t found any ‘fast food’ sushi rolls in Seattle but I’ve now dined at the Downtown/Belltown trinity of Japonessa, Umi and Shiro’s. The first time we tried to eat at Shiro’s, they were closed for renovations. This time we were lucky to get a table without a booking on a Friday evening.
Shiro’s has a small dining room with the sushi counter featuring prominently. The three sushi chefs greeted us as we entered and service was polite and friendly throughout. We were presented the standard menu and also an ordering sheet and pen for the daily specials and chefs’ selections.
Glistening and marbled, the five triangular pieces of salmon sashimi were savoured for its freshness and mildly sweet flavours.
Next we shared fresh crab and tempura spider crab rolls. The inside out fresh crab roll was meaty, a textural contrast to the creaminess of the soft shell crabs.
Our waiter recommended the salmon roll which had a thick slice of seared salmon embracing the inside out sushi roll of more salmon. The searing highlighted the succulent flesh.
We indulged in a plate of karaage, marinated chicken dusted in a light batter and deep-fried. I loved that Shiro’s served the chicken on the bone and it had a delightfully crunchy coating. A challenge to our chopsticks dexterity, we didn’t hesitate to eat these with our fingers!
We’ll return for a seat at the sushi counter to watch chef Shiro in action!
I have a confession to make – I had my first taste of sashimi only a year ago. It was at Eiji, a small Japanese restaurant in the Castro District in San Francisco. The restaurant seats about a dozen and one of their specialties is fresh homemade tofu. I stared at the pink, glistening morsel of fish and poked it with my chopsticks. It was with trepidation that I smeared wasabi on the salmon sashimi and dipped it in soy sauce. It was succulent, not oily, with a mild, sweet flavour. I liked it!
Fast forward a year and we’re at Japonessa for happy hour. We were early enough to get a table in the bar area and the restaurant quickly became full with the after work crowd on the cusp of a long weekend. We have dined at Japonessa numerous times, taking advantage of their generously priced happy hour. The size and presentation of the dishes can vary but the quality is always high.
The steaming bowl of edamame was sadly overcooked. I prefer edamame to be firm but these were mealy. The pods were a little soggy but there is a liberal sprinkling of salt flakes. Nevertheless, we munch through these while waiting for friends to join us.
There are five pieces of salmon sashimi fanned out on a shiso leaf. Hidden beneath the giant shiso leaf were small mounts of onion and coriander salad, seaweed, daikon and wasabi. Despite the brown edge, the salmon was fresh enough and a bargain at eight dollars.
We usually alternate between the agedashi tofu and calamari Japonessa for a hot course. The tofu cubes are golden and silky, the broth of dashi, soy and mirin is soothing and the bonito shavings add a distinctive umami flavour. The calamari is coated with a light batter and sweet chilli glaze, and is on a bed of cucumber, cherry tomato and mixed lettuce salad with yuzu aioli. On this Friday afternoon, we ordered the tatsuta age. The marinated fried chicken were a caramel colour, the thigh meat was moist and moreish, and didn’t need the sweet chilli sauce.
The highlight of the meal was the super bad boy roll. The tempura sushi roll consists of eel, snow crab and cream cheese cocooned in vinegar rice and nori and is topped with spicy seared crab and drizzled with chilli aioli and a soy glaze. There are six pieces and the ends are my favourite with the extra batter. The super bad boy roll is an explosion of flavours – it is creamy and crunchy, sweet and salty.
I highly recommend the Japonessa happy hour - the discount period is extensive and available every day, there is a good selection of sake and cocktails, and of course, a tasty variety of freshly made sushi!