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Japanese recomendations

My son's 16th birthday is coming up and in preparation for a trip to Japan with him we are wanting to go out and sample some food in Seattle. Looking for something that would be as close to what we would find in Japan as we can. We are very ignorant when it come to Japanese food save for a small amount of sushi that probably wasn't very good. A place with sushi as well as some small plates that could be shared would be a bonus. Also someplace that would have a knowlagable wait staff that would be able to give direction and explain what we are eating? I know, I'm not looking for much here....

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    1. re: Leonardo

      ooopps, that would help - Seattle

    2. DC, Shiro's serves an excellent range of authentic Japanese fare. (Not just Sushi.) I have always found their staff to be very attentive and helpful.

      1. Shiro's is good, Nishino's in Madison Park is good too, and they take reservations, so you can make a reservation for the sushi bar, talk to the sushi chefs, you'll learn alot.

        1 Reply
        1. re: nseattlefoodie

          You're going to get a flood of good recommendations, so I won't go too deep into that, except to say that it will help if you try and expose him to a wider range of dishes than just sushi/sashimi--there's quite a bit more to Japanese cuisine than that. Ramen and other noodles (udon, soba) are a mainstay over there, for example, and ramen in partic is quite affordable. Give Samurai Ramen, in the Uwajimaya bldg, a try, to get a foretaste of what you may encounter. The other thing I'd urge him to do is try and get a grip, so to speak, on chopstick use. Knowing how to wield chopsticks will make him look a little better to the locals and help guarantee that he doesn't starve. Here's a little animated link that may help:
          To start out, just think, "Top one moves, bottom one doesn't."
          Good luck.

        2. Definitely second the Nishino recommendation. Also try Flo in Bellevue for delicious seasonal specials, and Fort St. George in the International District for the kind of day-to-day food you won't find at most Japanese restaurants.

          1. This Japanese American suggests Tsukushinbo in the ID. Noodle dishes and tempura there are very good and reasonably priced. Sushi is good too and also reasonably priced. There's always a big board of what I assume are small plate specials, but it's only in Japanese and I confess I have not ordered off it, being a big noodle fan. Mike, the owner, is very friendly and speaks good English--you could ask his advice. This place was recommended to me years ago by a Japanese sushi chef who used to have a place on Bainbridge Island--he said the dashi (the broth they use for the noodles) wasn't as salty as other places, and he was right.

            Keep this in mind, however--nothing you can get anywhere in the States can approach the variety of what's available in Japan, where dishes are both regional and seasonal. One of the big reasons to go to Japan is to eat.

            On nights when they are not too busy, I suspect someone would be happy to explain things to you. So avoid Fridays and Saturdays for sure.

            1. Forgot another place: Shun north of University Village. The problem with this place is it always seems to be crowded. Go on the later side to have a prayer of having a serious conversation with the wait staff. Actually, what you might want to do is call Tsukushinbo first (Shun second) and explain exactly why you want to come and what are their least busy days and times when they might be willing to take some time to explain dishes. They're more likely to be receptive to this at Tsukushinbo, is my guess.

              3 Replies
              1. re: PAO

                I think you're right. Shun and Tsukushinbo are probably the best bets for the experience you're looking for. (Hadn't been to Shun in a while, glad to hear business has picked up)

                Nishino's really not gonna give you the experience you're looking for I think. It's good, but it's not really representative of day-to-day Japanese.

                Another thought would be Maekawa next to Fort St. George.
                It has kind of a izakaya feel to it.

                1. re: GreenYoshi

                  Thanks for the suggestons, looks like we'll hit Samurai for lunch and then try Tsukushinbo for dinner. And yes, the standing rule in the house is that everything must be eaten with chopsticks!

                  1. re: dcatwater

                    after hitting those two, you might also consider the new place Kappo (above Chiso in Fremont), which now has a la carte menu (not just prix fixe).

              2. Per Chowhounds, we tried Fort St. George for lunch today. What a fun little food destination. Definitely Chow-worthy.

                1. Aoki on Capitol Hill cooks a lot of traditional Japanese items -- beyond their tasty sushi. And as a chirashi whore (bowl of rice topped with lots of sashimi and roe), Musashi on 45th in Wallingford is the best deal in town. p.s. Chirashi isn't actually on the menu - you have to ask for it.