Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs

Japonessa – Downtown, Seattle

Posted on: Sunday 29 May 2011

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!

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1 Response to "Japonessa – Downtown, Seattle"

[…] 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 […]

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