Issian Stone Grill (SEA)
I noticed this new restaurant yesterday in Wallingford, two spots east of May on 45th. They were having their 'soft' opening as I walked by. It's a Japanese stone grill restaurant, whatever the heck that is; anyway it looked interesting, so thought I'd give a heads up to fellow hounds.
We ate at Issian on Friday night, and had a great meal. There were 7 of us and we shared a large number of small and medium plates include skewers, sashimi, and various grilled items. Standout dishes included yakiton (grilled pork belly skewers), a whole mackerel (also grilled, I believe), and some very good bluefin tuna sashimi.
The staff was friendly and attentive without being intrusive.
We ate very well, had a fair amount of beer and sake, and ended up paying about $30 per person including tax and tip.
Yeah, the food isn't grilled at your table, it's grilled in the (open) kitchen. Food seemed good, not super cheap but not priced like a 'gourmet' restaurant, either.
$4.50 for a beer, and most of the things on the menu seemed like they were between $4-7, with some standouts like a sashimi platter or filet mignon costing more. You'd probably want to plan on getting more than one for a meal.
Haha! I just googled to see if anyone had reviewed this place yet! It's an izakaya (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Izakaya) and definitely wasn't what kirkj mentioned. Issian has small plates meant for sharing, which can mean anything from a few bites to 3-4 pieces per person. I actually went for the soft opening (caveat: I know a guy that works there), and it was a lot of fun. In short: casual atmosphere, quality sashimi (I ate a scallop that nearly melted in my mouth. I was happy.), decent pricing.
Now the long review:
It's two doors left/west of Molly Moon's, which was packed as always. Small tip: either eat early and hit Molly Moon's or have ice cream before dinner, because at 9pm it was insanely packed. On a damp Wednesday night. Crazy.
Back to Issian (pronounced, I learned, Isshan (long E, slightly elongated sh, “an” like fawn). The menu is in the window (it's rather amusing) so you know what you’re getting into. They have sashimi, sushi, grilled food, simmered food, fried food (tempura, etc), beer, wine, sake (no cocktails)...that's all I can remember right now.
The servers/waiters are willing to answer questions, which is useful, because the menu isn't always very descriptive (although they identify the raw food and their recommendations). The edamame was freshly steamed and salted (not cold, limp and overcooked). The omakase sashimi plate was awesome, so was the...tuna collar (I can't remember the real name. But it was a salty piece of cooked/roasted/grilled--not sure, I'm a terrible reviewer, I know—tuna, and I loved it.), as was the albacore with ponzu sauce.
The food came out a bit on the slow side, but we were warned (first night with real patrons). The staff is really nice, and the owner was working the floor with them. I talked to a few servers, and it sounded like they enjoyed working there. Sometimes the price per plate seemed a bit high, but when we got the bill, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. We shared about 10 plates between four people, and were stuffed by the time we were finished.
I’ll definitely go back. It’s a good compromise between the high and low Japanese restaurants out there.
If its anything like Vancouver's Stonegrill Restaurant, it will be highly overpriced and overrated. At the Stonegrill, a slab of rock heated to 750 degrees is brought to your table so that you can cook your own meats and seafood. For me, this cooking method added nothing good to the taste. Its a place that you might go to once for the novelty.