Aloha Ramen owners Lorenzo and Reiko Rangel were inspired to open their restaurant after moving to Seattle from Honolulu and noting the lack of ramen-centric eateries, according to an article by The Seattle Times. In lieu of maintaining a lengthy menu of dishes, the restaurant's cooks put nearly all their attention into the traditional noodle dish, which features fresh broth, roasted meats, and garnishes such as bamboo shoots. And similar to the ramen stands of Japan, the tables inside Aloha Ramen bear all the tools and ingredients needed to enjoy a meal, such as ramen pepper and bundles of chopsticks, which are necessary both for eating noodles and for building a protective fort around your pot stickers
In Japanese restaurants, the eye is typically drawn to the sushi bar, where chefs deftly slice and serve various seafood delicacies. At Moshi Moshi Sushi, however, the eye can't help but look above the bar—that's where hundreds of pink lights emulate cherry blossoms on an electronic sakura tree. The indisputable centerpiece of the restaurant bespeaks a devotion to mirroring Japan as much as possible. That devotion means Japanese beer on tap, sake sampler flights, and fish flown in from Tokyo's Tsukji Market, rather than delivered in the dead of night by a pickup truck from the aquarium.
The menu presents nigiri, sashimi, and specialty maki rolls. For example, the golden garden roll covers spicy tuna and tempura scallions with mango and scallops, whereas a signature piece of nigiri tops rice with seared salmon belly, yuzu juice, and grated daikon. But not everything is strictly sushi—there are appetizers such as octopus-filled flour dumplings, and grilled helpings of beef short ribs in housemade teriyaki sauce. In the lounge, original cocktails range from a lychee-rosemary cosmo to a Japanese margarita made with shishito-infused tequila.
Sushi chefs slice and roll morsels of flavorful fish and fresh ingredients behind the counter in Rumble Fish Sushi Cafe's dining room. Sunlight from floor-to-ceiling windows and round hanging lanterns lights plates of traditional and nontraditional rolls, such as the cream cheese-filled philadelphia roll or the Lion King's crab, avocado, and salmon. On the dining room's lacquered wood tables, other hallmarks of Japanese cuisine make appearances, with yakisoba and udon noodle dishes supplementing appetizers such as edamame, ika salad, and tempura prawns. The large space also accommodates large groups and parties with ample seating, and bar-side dining is a comfortable spot from which to watch games on a wide-screen TV and narrate play-by-plays of the sushi chefs' work.
Featured in Seattle magazine and The Seattle Times, Kaya Korean Barbecue prides itself on its attentive service, posh presentation, massive portions, and a second-story location safe from dinner-interrupting tiger stampedes. Platoons of food soldiers can arm themselves with massive appetizers such as the marinated raw beef ($15.99) before focusing their attention on the feast as it arrives in steaming hot rock bowls. Choose from a variety of dishes ranging from the Angus marinated short ribs ($27.99) to soft tofu soup ($10.99), or go for an authentic barbecue experience by searing enormous platters of sizzling meats on the minigrill located in the center of your table, with selections such as the Kaya combo for four (Angus rib eye, marinated short ribs, marinated sirloin, beef brisket, beef tongue, bean paste stew, and your choice of beverages) ($96.99). Overhanging vents inhale the mouthwatering barbecue odors that would otherwise cling to clothes for days, ensuring that diners are not tempted to try out new recipes at home such as blouse jerky and deep-fried pants. In addition to grilluminating guests, Kaya pours copious cupfuls of Korean rice wine and beer.
A Standout in Seattle's Japanese Dining Scene
Amid Seattle's sea of Japanese restaurants, Miyabi 45th stands out. That's because, rather than specialize in sushi, Miyabi 45th's menu spotlights one of Japan's most overlooked staple foods: the soba noodle.
There are multiple ways to enjoy these buckwheat-based noodles, which chefs make in-house from Washington-grown grains: they can be served cool, with a side of dipping sauce, or piping-hot in savory broth. Chefs also concoct a variety of creative dishes to pair them with; think foie gras "tofu," miso-marinated brie, and Japanese whiskey-glazed chicken wings. Sommelier-chosen sakes and craft cocktails further enhance the dining experience.
Elevating Soba to New Heights
Chef Mutsuko Soma, the Japanese-born chef behind Miyabi 45th, studied a wide variety of cuisines at the Art Institute of Seattle’s culinary program. But no matter how many new flavors she tried, she remained captivated with simple soba.
After stints at such lauded restaurants such as Harvest Vine and Chez Shea, she returned to Japan to learn the art of soba-noodle preparation, mastering traditional hand-forming and cutting techniques. Now that she's back in Seattle, area diners can enjoy the fruits of her studies at Miyabi 45th, where she and her chefs elevate this traditional dish with modern add-ons such as sous-vide egg and oysters.
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.