Several culinary styles meet in the kitchen of Sushimaru, an Asian-fusion eatery. That's because the menu travels from Chinese appetizers such as egg rolls and gyoza dumplings to Korean classics such as bulgogi to Japanese teriyaki and bento boxes. Chefs fashion fresh ingredients into sashimi and fusion sushi rolls such as the Blue Mountain, which combines crabmeat and avocado with baked mozzarella, string potatoes, and blueberry jam.
Beneath the softly glowing paper lanterns above the sushi bar, chefs at Happy Teriyaki #4 are hand rolling maki destined for both individual plates and the all-you-can-eat sushi bar. But it's the signature sauce, fresh vegetables, and charcoal-broiled meats in their teriyaki dishes that are their claim to fame: the restaurant earned the title of Best Teriyaki in Evening Magazine and KING 5's Best of Western Washington awards in both 2011 and 2012.
The owners' pride in their work is not only evidenced by their artful and flavorful culinary creations but also by the restaurant's inviting ambiance. Colorful Japanese screens add a touch of authentic flair to the dining room, where high-backed, private booths prevent fellow guests from copying homework. Beyond praising the "fast, tasty and affordable" food, Jennifer Johnson of the Weekly Volcano commended the staff for "service [that] has not only been efficient and swift but pleasantly provided."
It's no surprise that Akasaka Restaurant, named after a neighborhood in Tokyo, offers traditional Japanese specialties. Diners tuck into freshly sliced sashimi, seasonal imports of Kobe beef, and shabu shabu hot pots of seaweed-infused broth in which diners can simmer morsels of beef or seafood. But according to The Seattle Times, there's another showstopper: "It's hard to get past the great Korean food at this longtime Federal Way favorite."
On tabletop grills, guests can broil hand-cut short ribs, slices of scarlet bulgogi beef, and other korean meats to their liking. Servers present more than a dozen types of housemade kimchi and other korean banchan to accompany savory meals, along with glasses of sake, whiskey, and Asian beer.
Kaihana compiles a menu of traditional Asian fare elevated by a sterling selection of sushi rolls and delicately sliced sashimi. Three-course meals begin with a choice of a crab rangoon, stuffed gyoza, edamame, egg roll or a green salad appetizer. Diners can then order their favorite rice-wrapped tastes with a special roll––such as a Las Vegas roll, honeymoon roll, or hot night roll––and a maki sushi roll customized to their preference, allowing patrons to express themselves through food instead of the usual impromptu tabletop choreography. Like two sides of any seaweed-wrapped coin, California and tuna rolls come in a choice of spicy or mild, while salmon and vegetarian rolls are also available for un-meat eaters and those whose appetites are unable to adapt to Pacific Standard Time. Sweet teeth can conclude their epicurean journey with a choice of fruit bowl, ice cream, or a deep-fried banana topped with whipped cream and chocolate, and Kaihana's regular menu is also available for customers who wish to order additional eats (not included in the value of today's Groupon).
There are many ways to dine at O Sushi & Grill. O Sushi & Grill delivers hot and cold Japanese delights, rolling fresh sushi by hand or sizzling teppanyaki-style meals by way of the griddle. Diners take in a table-side show as experienced chefs prepare teppanyaki, a Japanese style of cuisine prepared atop an iron griddle, in front of their eyes. Hibachi-grilled red snapper, sesame-seed-infused chicken, and tender new york steak emerge from the flames to adorn audiences' plates. Entrees such as the suki yaki steak, which marries thinly sliced beef with homemade sauces, make nearby diners shed tears of joy into their sake bombs. Palates preferring plant-based cuisines can avail themselves of the assorted vegetarian platter, sprouting grilled and seasoned zucchini, broccoli, and carrots.
Guests can grab a seat and a sushi appetizer aside the iron grill for the in-house chefs' eye-catching pyrotechnics display. Alternatively, those in the mood for some flame-free fish-rolling can head straight to the sushi bar, where dinnertime piano performances, brightly colored plates, and scenes of leaping dolphins all aid in crafting a memorable dining experience.
The Japanese have plenty of words for different styles of dining, from omakase (chef’s selection) to izakaya (a Japanese pub with great food). But kappo might not be on the tip of many tongues. Legendarily rooted in Osaka starting in the 19th century, kappo dining puts the chef on display in the dining room, where diners can watch their meals form before their very eyes. Even better, there are no imaginary lines here between cook and customer: the other distinctive part of kappo are the many close interactions between the diners and chef, making it a learning experience for both parties.
You could say it’s the Japanese way, but here, more than anything it’s the Tamura way: creating a menu based on whatever fresh, local food chefs can obtain that day. With produce plucked from the rooftop garden or shrimp caught in Skagit Bay, chefs create a brand-spankin’-new menu every day. That means you may not have much control over what’s offered, but with the chefs’ degree of skill in the kitchen, that essentially doesn’t matter.
When Seattle Magazine named Sushi Kappo Tamura the Best New Restaurant in 2011, it lauded it’s sushi as the best in Seattle. That might seem like a big enough accomplishment in itself, but it’s not the only trophy in this restaurant’s case. Seattle Magazine readers’ choice voters agreed with the critics, deeming it Best Sushi in 2014. Travel + Leisure called it one of the Best Sushi Restaurants in the States. Maybe it’s the freshness of every ingredient or Kyoto-born chef Taichi Kitamura’s constant strive for perfection, but Sushi Kappo Tamura keeps racking up accolades that leave the rest of the pack lagging behind.