Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Kisaku

I haven't been eating sushi for very long, maybe 3 years now and it was only 2.5 years ago that I made the leap from lame sushi eater to adventurous sushi eater. Once I started, I found myself craving it on a regular basis. It was the hardest thing to give up while vegan. When I started eating meat, I was excited to get my hands on some good sushi. And yet, I was thwarted because I was living in Atlanta and its not exactly a sushi hub. I was really looking forward to come back to Seattle, to be back on the water in sushi country, where I would have my pick of local sushi joints, swanky sushi joints and everything in between. Right before I left Atlanta, I got into a bit of Sushi mania and soothed the savage beast with wildly successful trips to MF Sushibar (Atlanta) and Domo (San Francisco), which easily are my #1 recommendations for sushi in each of those respective towns. I was excited and enthusiastic to find "my" sushi place in Seattle, where I had only been able to try a few spots (due to veganism).

Saturday night turned out to be the perfect opportunity for my initial foray into the Seattle sushi scene. My friend Colin and I both decided that Japanese/Sushi sounded like the perfect idea for dinner. While he perused my copy of Seattle Metropolitian Magazine's Met 200 and made suggestions, I hopped on Urbanspoon and located the most highly ranked sushi place in Seattle, I figured starting at the top was as good a place as any. Kisaku. Not only is it the most highly rated sushi place, it is #3 on the all restaurant list. I was simply in the mood for good satisfying sushi and I called Kisaku, thinking there was no way they would have a reservation as it was 7pm already. Not only did they have a reservation, but they had primetime 7:30 available for the taking. We snapped it up and jumped in the car to hightail it across town.  Kisaku is located in a hard to find spot, if you are not familiar but luckily for me, I know the cluster of shops, restaurants and coffee shops that is considered Greenlake, but is more Latona, more "random spot in the middle of the neighborhood". We made it on time, whipping in the door at 7:29 and were instantly seated in the very clean, elegant (especially compared to many hole in the wall sushi places I am use to) and full with groups of people, couples and very happy looking customers.

But honestly, neither of us were in a particularly adventurous mood and all I really wanted was a nice selection of my favorites. Unfortunately for me, Colin doesn't like Unagi and so one of my favorites was out. We tucked into some edamame and I appreciated that the server brought me a salt shaker after I asked if they could make sure that the edamame were really salty. No matter what, I always want more salt (that's what running will do!) and so it was nice to be able to apply and reapply the salt while we worked through the bowl. I don't actually think its possible to mess up a bowl of edamame, so this is not much of a comment on the food. We bee-lined for the "rolls" section of the menu and discussed possibilities. We decided on 4 rolls for the two of us: Spicy Tuna Roll (my personal favorite), Spider Roll (second favorite), and two unique rolls, the Devil's Vegetable Roll (which is quite pricey at $7.50 for an all veggie roll) and the Garden Roll (both vegetarian options). The sushi came pretty quickly and my excitement mounted. I was sure with such a high level of approval that these options, though very basic, would wow me. And they did. But not in a good way.

The Spicy Tuna Roll was not spicy, the fish/shellfish was not flavorful and disappeared to the point of wondering if there was fish on them at all. The vegetable rolls were mono-dimensional and unexciting. I imagine that if I had tried a wider breadth of items on the menu, I would have found something that impressed me, but I was shocked that these particular items produced not even a blip on the radar. Worse still, after the rolls, I was still hungry and yet, unwilling to try anything else. It wasn't worth the price, I was that unimpressed. Instead I went home and ate a cold baked potato w/ some almond butter (to make sure I wouldn't die on my long run the next day).

I came in with expectations and faith of over 300 recommendations and was unmoved in the actual trying of it. It was not bad. If I lived around the corner, I might be willing to give it another try in a pinch. And while most restaurants really "deserve" several tries, when it comes to sushi there are so many good choices that it is easier to just move on to the next if one doesn't have a righteous experience. I had better sushi at sushi happy hour at Nijo (which was delicious, fresh (fish) and inexpensive, though not convenient-Post Alley). I had better sushi (though considerably more expensive and much more a scene) at Red Fin. After Kisaku, I still haven't found "my" sushi but I'll keep looking. My recommendation: start somewhere else on the list, but try it at some point. Its middle of the pack right now. And at some point, I'll go back and give it another shot after I have surveyed the rest of the Seattle sushi scene.

Kisaku on Urbanspoon

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