Le Fournil’s owner, Nicolas Paré, didn’t want to create another stuffy French restaurant. Instead, he had dreams of opening the kind of casual bakery you might find on any Parisian street corner. He did just that, and now his customers stop in daily to grab anything from a cup of coffee to a freshly baked baguette.
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.
Beacon Hill residents know to order lunch or rush home from work for an early dinner whenever Hiroshi Egashira is cooking. Alongside his traditional sushi menu, Hiroshi serves up Japanese favorites like tori ten (fried chicken) and yakisoba noodles with your choice of protein. Here are a few things to keep in mind about this neighborhood favorite:
Ramen is an important dish in Japan—the country boasts more than 40,000 ramen shops. And each region boasts its own unique style of the soupy noodles, which makes for more than two dozen regional varieties. The owners of Samurai Noodle took their cue from their Japanese counterparts, packing their menu with 12 types of ramen, including the less soupy dipping ramen. A range of broth options—including miso chicken, chili green onion, and tomato—cradle helpings of noodles, be they thick egg noodles or thin wheat noodles. The chefs take customization one step further, letting customers specify their preferred noodle firmness. Additional toppings for the soup creations include chili sauce, black mushrooms, and eggs.
Dashi: a fish stock or broth used in Japanese cuisine that’s typically made with dried kelp and bonito flakes.
Karaage: a Japanese technique in which chicken (or meat or fish) is marinated in soy sauce, garlic, and ginger, coated in flour or starch, then deep-fried.
While You’re in the Neighborhood
Before: Catch an indie flick at Grand Illusion Cinema (1405 NE 50th Street).
After: Walk off your meal and learn about dinosaurs at the same time with a visit to the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture (17th Avenue NE and NE 45th Street).
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.