When a guest walks into Blue C Sushi, a staff member greets them with a cheerful “Irasshaimase!”—a traditional Japanese salutation that translates literally as “welcome to our store.” That warm welcome isn't the only surprise in store for guests though: a parade of vibrantly colored plates inspired by modern Tokyo subway lines moves past on a modern conveyer belt, dazzling eyes with their delicious and equally colorful contents. Dishes such as cucumber and seaweed salads, or the namesake Blue C sushi roll (with spicy crab, scallions, sliced tuna, tobiko, and shiso) await to be selected directly from the display, and each plate's color corresponds directly to the dish's price and the mood of the chef who prepared it. In this way, guests can build a completely custom meal around any budget, starting with raw or cooked sushi, all the way down to desserts, such as mochi. Of course, the friendly staff members are always on hand to help answer questions about each dish as it ambles past, and to refresh dishes regularly.
At most sushi restaurants, there are the usual suspects and there are the specialty rolls. Indeed, Wasabi Bay spotlights nearly 25 specialties such as the popcorn lobster roll, a snow crab, avocado, and cucumber medley crowned with your choice of fried lobster or a popcorn kernel with claws.
But such specialties only skim the surface of Wasabi Bay's creative approach to sushi. The eatery's massive menu also features rice-free rolls, including a riff on a spider roll whose soft shell crab and jalapeno arrives wrapped in cucumber. Chefs even whip up a handful of baked and tempura rolls, such as a deep-fried California roll.
Don't let "deep-fried" scare you off?cooks only batter rolls in spinach juice tempura, one among Wasabi Bay's many health-conscious ingredients, such as black rice. Alongside sushi, the culinary team crafts other Japanese-inspired dishes, from shitake mushroom- and crab-filled dumplings to grilled salmon coated with raspberry teriyaki sauce.
Purple, green, orange, and white—N'Joy Sushi's so-called "Crazy" roll is a veritable explosion of colors. Its rainbow-like appearance is made possible by an ingredient list that includes tuna, cream cheese, and crab, all of which are wonderfully deep-fried. But this is just one of the specialty rolls at N'Joy Sushi, and it may not even be the most creative. The Heart Attack is also in the running, thanks to its winning combination of shrimp, spicy tuna, and jalapeños. And then there's the BSC, a standard California roll that's generously topped with baked scallops. The menu doesn't end with sushi—back in the kitchen, chefs cook entrees of grilled steak, short ribs, and salmon.
As a former export manager of Alaskan seafood, the sushi chef at Sushi Spott knows his fillets. Fresh catches fill the glass display case at the sushi bar, where nigiri sushi and hand rolls join specialty rolls such as the salmon-skin roll and the citrus-infused lemon roll, whose tuna, avocado, and salmon cannot be made into lemonade. Sushi Spott also dishes out chicken teriyaki, bento boxes, and other entrees amid the dining room's white pendant lamps and decorative Japanese screens.
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.
On the sign that denotes the entrance to Rain Modern Japanese Cuisine, twisting neon lights outline a blue fish with a cartoonish grin and an orange umbrella. This colorful introduction extends inside to the dining room, where Rainbow rolls, golden tamago nigiri, and ruby-red salmon roe add pigment to each stark white plate. Sushi dominates the menu, which boasts nigiri by the piece as well as maki wrapped in soy-paper or bundled with tempura and glazed with sauces such as avocado salsa and housemade teriyaki. Chef Takashi Ogasawara and his staff's other handcrafted creations include the namesake Rain roll—shrimp tempura capped with creamy scallops—and the Sasquatch, a meaty morsel of shrimp, tobiko, and tuna nestled in seared salmon. In addition to sushi, diners can sample beef-short-rib appetizers or play cat's cradle with hungry spirit animals via udon and yakisoba noodle dishes.