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All You Can Eat

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Topic: sushi

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November 28, 2011 at 6:00 AM

Seattle sushi-sensei Shiro Kashiba’s book offers wit, wisdom

Holding court in Belltown, Shiro Kashiba’s eyes, darting under expressive brows shaped like Mount Fuji, miss nothing. And that’s saying something. Three days a week you’ll find Seattle’s pre-eminent sushi chef right where he wants to be: standing behind his sushi bar, celebrating the fact that at 70, he’s doing what he dreamt of doing as a grade-school boy in Kyoto.

These days he has something else to celebrate, and so do we: the publication of his memoir, “Shiro: Wit, Wisdom and Recipes from a Sushi Pioneer.” Beautifully photographed and illustrated, filled with memories spanning seven decades and two continents, the book chronicles his years spent as a sushi apprentice in Tokyo’s Ginza district and brings us up-to-date with Seattle’s contemporary sushi scene.

That scene began in 1970 in old Japantown, where Shiro stepped up to Seattle’s first full-service sushi bar. It continues today, our sushi sensei now having mentored a cadre of sushi chefs who’ve been opening restaurants all over town.

“Shiro: Wit, Wisdom & Recipes from a Sushi Pioneer.” You’ve got to read it.

At Shiro’s, the boss is as much an entertainer as an educator, his wit as sharp as his knife. “Sayonara!” he shouts before wresting the heads from a pair of wriggling spot prawns, sending them to the kitchen for frying. “These are from Hood Canal,” he instructs, proffering the sweet meat over vinegared rice as sushi nigiri. “Local!”

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July 21, 2010 at 1:07 PM

Tamura: new sushi kappo open on Eastlake

In January, I ate one last omakase meal at Chiso Kappo before Taichi Kitamura sold the original Chiso, closed his upstairs operation Kappo and put an end to his stunning one-man-show in Fremont with plans to head to Eastlake. On Sunday, Tamura Sushi Kappo made its public debut serving dinner only at the Ruby condo complex across from the Eastlake Bar & Grill , and on Monday I was seated at the sushi bar taking it all in.

Taichi Kitamura (left, center) presides at 2968 Eastlake Avenue East where the new Tamura is more Chiso than Kappo.

I was one of many customers Taichi greeted warmly by name, and the pretty young blond who strode in to unwittingly join me at the sushi bar was as impressed with that as she was with her new favorite hang-out (she lives upstairs at the Ruby). “When I told my friends how excited I was to have a sushi bar right downstairs,” she told me, “They said: `Yeah! Do you know who that guy is?'” She didn’t. But she was learning fast.

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March 4, 2010 at 7:00 PM

Seattle-area kaiten: where the sushi goes ’round the Sound

If you know me, you know how I feel about sushi. I’m a woman obsessed. To my thinking, there’s nothing better than putting myself in the hands of a well-schooled professional and saying “omakase.” Which, very loosely translated, means “Hit me with your best shot.” When it comes my obsession, leaving it up to to a talented sushiman (or woman!) is the best way to get a little taste of heaven. But when I’m looking for a quick, easy and far less expensive fix, I’m a sucker for kaiten.

Kaiten (conveyor belt) restaurants offer a visual primer to the wide world of sushi and other Japanese-food favorites. The movable feast, with color-coded plates that generally cost between $1 and $5.50 each, is perfect for the sushi novice, and kids love it too — as I explained in this month’s Ticket roundup (read it here).

You probably know about locally owned Blue C Sushi and the international giant Sushi Land. Between them, they’ve got a dozen kaiten restaurants orbiting in our orbit, but for my roundup, I stepped out to introduce you to a quintet of others. In this post, I offer some visuals to go along with my suggestions, beginning with this Japanese video-import — to give you a taste of how things work:

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October 15, 2009 at 3:20 PM

Blue C Sushi does it again: sixth store opens downtown

I spend a lot of time, and not an insignificant amount of my paycheck, in the area’s best sushi bars. Places where the sushi chef knows my Indian name (Nancy Eats Too Much Sushi-san) and modus operandi (omakase? hai!). I also spend a lot of time at kaiten sushi-joints. Which is to say you’re as likely to see me at the sushi bar at Taka Sushi, Kisaku and Mashiko as at Sushi Land, Genki Sushi and Blue C Sushi — which opened its sixth store downtown this week across the street from Gameworks.

Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s — Blue C Sushi?

I like kaiten (conveyor-belt) sushi because it’s quick and easy. It can be cheap (see: Sushi Land), it’s certainly convenient (Genki offers free parking in a covered lot not far from the Seattle Times office) and it can be a ton of fun, especially if you’re dealing with a sushi-novice or you’ve got a kid like mine who’s a sushi-freak.

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September 23, 2009 at 1:28 PM

The Swinery: Mom & Pop butcher shop open in West Seattle

Last night, while I was treating myself to dinner at Seattle’s first and only sustainable sushi bar, Mashiko, West Seattle was digesting its first taste of Seattle’s first and only sustainable butcher and meat shop, The Swinery.

Seated next to me at the sushi bar were a couple who’d just come from a reading by Seattle author Robert Spector. And when I asked to take a look at his new book, “The Mom & Pop Store: How the Unsung Heroes of the American Economy are Surviving and Thriving,” I had no idea that several West Seattle businesses — including Mashiko and the Husky Deli — were profiled within. (The author discusses the book again tonight at Town Hall.) Reading Spector’s intro between bites of kona kanpachi and rainbow trout sashimi, black cod chawanmushi and matsutake tempura, I learned he was the son of a New Jersey butcher who, along with extended family, worked in the family store.

I’ll bet you a sustainably raised pork chop that had The Swinery opened sooner, he’d have included West Seattle’s latest entry into the world of mom and pop-shops in his book. What a story Spector could have told!

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July 27, 2009 at 5:19 PM

Seattle’s first sustainable sushi bar: Mashiko rises to the bait

Hajime Sato — a self-described “sushi whore” — has seen the light.

Mashiko, his West Seattle restaurant, celebrates 15 years in business in September. He’ll turn 40 in October. Now, he said, is the perfect time to come clean.

“I’ve been teaching sushi-making for seven or eight years. I teach about eating sustainable fish, but in my restaurant I use fish I know I should not be using. I feel like a hypocrite. I want to sleep good at night!” Soon enough, he’ll be sleeping peacefully.

On August 15, Mashiko will be reborn as Seattle’s first fully sustainable sushi restaurant. Which is to say that Sato will just say no to endangered fish and other seafood caught or raised using non-sustainable practices. He’s 86-ing sushi bar-staples like Atlantic salmon, black tiger shrimp from Southeast Asia, farm-raised unagi (freshwater eel) and hamachi (Japanese amberjack) — while proudly waving the oshibori of conservationism.

Hajime Sato: the first cut is the hardest (photo/Jessica Oyanagi)

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