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Oct 28, 2009 02:02 PM

Shiro's or Kappo? (Seattle)

We will be in Seattle soon for a birthday and trying to decide on Shiro's or Kappo for the birthday dinner, but can't decide. I hope some Chowhounds can help me make a decision!

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  1. The best sushi chef (“itamae”) in Seattle is Shiro Kashiba. He trained with the legendary master Jiro Ono of Sukiyabashi Jiro in Ginza. (Shiro-san, in turn, trained Taichi Kitamura of Chiso/Kappo.) Shiro-san’s sources for fish and seafood, his ability to select fish, and his knife skills are without peer in Seattle. He is now semi-retired, but works three days a week at his namesake restaurant. His prices are the most expensive in Seattle, but if you want to experience the best regardless of price, Shiro is where you should go. You should find out which days Shiro-san is working, go early to the restaurant on one of those days, and ask to be seated at the sushi bar with Shiro-san. You will have to follow this procedure, since the restaurant does not take reservations at the sushi bar to be served specifically by Shiro-san. Kappo will also provide a good experience, as will Kisaku. The itamae at Nishino worked at Matsuhisa in Los Angeles and, like the legendary Nobu Matsuhisa, takes more of a creative “fusion” approach to sushi, rather than the classical Edo-style of sushi. These four places – Shiro, Kappo, Kisaku, and Nishino – are the four best sushi restaurants in Seattle.

    1. I prefer Chiso Kappo but this decision is really six of one and half a dozen of the other. You won't go wrong either way.

      (But again, if it were up to me, I'd go to Chiso Kappo; the only place that's better is Urasawa.


      3520 Fremont Ave N, Seattle, WA 98103

      5 Replies
      1. re: SauceSupreme

        Thanks for both your comments. I must say looking at websites, I prefer Kappo. Do you have to sit at the sushi bar to get the omakase? I've never had omakase before.

        1. re: sweeterpea

          I recommend Kappo. This is the upstairs restaurant. Set price, Set menu.
          Do the early first seating. You will have quality time with the chef. This time of year, he will most likely serve matsutake dobin mushi. The later it gets, the busier, and thus less talking with the chef.

          Shiro's was highly recommended, but we were mostly ignored at the sushi bar, and completely ignored when a Birthday reservation group arrived at the bar.
          Then, we were asked if we were finished, and we said, no we were still hungry.
          I will never return to Shiro's because of how we were treated. And it was on a day the Shiro san was at the sushi bar.

          2401 2nd Ave, Seattle, WA

          1. re: ritabwh

            Is the $100 omakase a lot of food?

            1. re: sweeterpea

              Yes. You can always order more if you like. And put me down for Team Kappo.

              Kappo you will get different sorts of cooked items, (soup, salads, grilled fish, etc) along with select premium sushi cuts. Shiro's would be more focused on just sushi.

              You can always call Taichi in advance and talk about the menu and if you have any requests.

              2401 2nd Ave, Seattle, WA

              1. re: shaolinLFE

                When I was at Kappo last November he had flown in some Hairy Crabs from Hokkaido for a special request for a birthday group.

      2. Ok, we now have reservations at the sushi bar at Kappo. We booked early as per suggestion, thanks. My husband phoned and the person doing the reservations was very knowledgeable and friendly; then it turned out it was Taichi Kitamura himself! Looking forward to this. I will write a trip report when we get back!

        1. Ok, we spent a rainy, cold weekend in Seattle, and ironically the weather was beautiful back in Calgary. But never, mind we had a wonderful time and we love Seattle rain or shine!

          When we arrived at Kappo, we were personally greeted by Taichi; he was very warm and engaging and I was expecting the experience to be more formal, but it was like hanging out at a friend's house, we enjoyed the experience immensly. We decided to go for the $80.00 omakase, as I was afraid of ordering too much food. This was a wise decision as I found this price range was pretty filling for me, and I dont' think I could have had finished all the courses in the $100.00 omakase, and I'm a pretty big eater.

          Our first course was a salad of geoduck clam, matsutake mushroom and watercress. I've never had geoduck clam before and enjoyed the texture. The watercress and the soy and ponzu vinaigrette combined nicely as a contrast to the sweet clam. Second course was a white miso soup with squash. Taichi seems to like pairing contrasting flavors, and the miso perfectly set off the sweetness of the squash.

          The third course was a steamed croquette of ling cod and crab, encased in a coating of grated Japanese radish (not daikon, another type), wood ear mushroom, and topped with Alaskan sea urchin roe. Very delicate, but perfectly balanced flavors; however, the ling cod was maybe slightly overcooked. The fourth course blew me away. It was slow-cooked natural pork ribs ( the cut was similar to a short rib without the bone) in red miso and other spices, garnished with I think Chinese Yu Choy. The ribs were so amazingly flavorful and rich -- I could have inhaled 4 or 5 of them on steamed rice. Just superb. We then had some assorted sushi, and it was probably the best sushi we have ever had. We usually go to Chef's Studio Japan in Canmore nearby for what I think is the best sushi in the Bow Valley here, but Kappo's sushi just set that bar a little bit higher. I am glad to know that my fave sushi place near Calgary serves such high quality sushi, comparable to Kappo's.

          Our dessert was simply a peeled and sliced persimmon each; to be totally honest, I would have appreciated something light and more special like a small creme brulee or something like that for an $80.00 meal, but that and the texture of the croquette was the only criticisms I had. We had a wonderful time, and can't wait to dine there again. We want to try Chiso downstairs for sushi as well. Thanks again to everyone in this thread.

          6 Replies
          1. re: sweeterpea

            I'm so happy to hear you enjoyed your Kappo dinner. I always fear I may have over-sold an establishment in my enthusiasm.
            Hopefully you had some quality time with Chef Taichi and had a chance to talk and chat with him.
            As for dessert, Japan does not do desserts as we are used to in the West.
            So a creme brulee would be very out of place, although delicious.
            The persimmon was actually a very authentic idea of "dessert" Japanese style.

            1. re: ritabwh

              Thanks, Rita. We did have quality time as we booked early and it was like hanging out at his house. I understand the concept of Asian desserts, but was disappointed as I had read on his website/blog and on Yelp as well about some different light Asian desserts he had served in the past, so was expecting something like that.

              1. re: sweeterpea

                Ok, I didn't know about the dessert info you've researched. I guess I need to wander back to his website. It's been a while since I've checked it out.

            2. re: sweeterpea

              Thanks for the detailed report. I was interested that the emphasis for Kappo’s omakase is on cooked dishes (four out of five courses, excluding the persimmon, and assuming that the assorted sushi was presented as a single course). Do remember what Taichi-san used as the tane (toppings) for the sushi? Did it include anything unusual or seasonal? If one's preference leans towards cooked items, the omakase at Kappo fits the bill perfectly. Although both Shiro and Kisaku have kitchens that prepare cooked items, the emphasis at both those restaurants is on sashimi and sushi.

              2401 2nd Ave, Seattle, WA

              1. re: Tom Armitage

                He gave us one nigiri at a time, plus at the end a hand roll; I'm used to having all my sushi on a plate :o) The first nigiri was extremely fresh smelt, and the second was an amazing wild coho salmon. Sorry to say I forgot what the others were, but the hand roll at the end was tuna. There was nothing extraneous on them, except for the smelt which had a tiny bit of scallion and ginger on it. The others that did the $100 dinner (I'm assuming) from what I saw got a platter of fresh clams (raw) and also sauteed scallops.

                1. re: sweeterpea

                  Thanks. There are good local ocean smelt in season now, so this was an excellent choice of trane.