The Culinary Delights of Seattle
Seattle is one of the best food cities in the US, if not the world! The combination of the incredible local seafood and west coast produce and the robust Asian American community is a recipe for a truly outstanding food scene. Whenever I visit, I know I am in for a treat, and, in true Steve fashion, I planned my recent visit, tagging along with Georgia who had a wedding to attend, around food.
Seattle is still keeping things pretty tight because of COVID (I might argue unnecessarily so), and many places are still closed or extremely limited in their availability, so when searching for places to eat, the pickings were unfortunately slim. We did manage to have a wonderful few days of food, however, while flying largely by the seat of our pants.
Uncle Scott and Aunt Jacque, on our dad's side of the family, live in Seattle, and rounded out several weeks of seeing folks we haven't seen (or in the case of in-laws, even met!) on that side of the family. I managed to grab a reservation for four at a lovely little neighborhood Italian spot on our first night. Raccolto has been serving the booming West Seattle suburb for five years, and I was happy to find a place that Jacque hadn't tried yet (that's hard!). The space is in a lovely, neighborhood spot right in the heart of West Seattle, and Jacque and Scott whisked us off right from the airport for a dinner and catch-up.
Highlights included yellowtail crudo with pomelo and spruce tips, burrata (yum) with caramelized peppers, a pasta with braised pork, and a delicious pork shank with farro. We completed the meal with two bottles of Italian wine, one Barbaresco that was a shade too young, and a super-good super Tuscan, with a luxurious mouthfeel you can only get from the expert combo of cab and sangiovese. Highly recommend this lovely spot!
The second day was a quiet, rainy one while we both worked our mutual online job in our hotel room, but I escaped for a happy hour at the place I always visit in Seattle––Taylor Shellfish. This is probably the best place for oysters in the city, and I LOVE west coast oysters, and happy hour always includes some wonderful oyster specials. I got the shucker's dozen and feasted on several Washington and BC oysters, my favorites being the tiny, sweet kumamotos.
Taylor is best known for Washington's own original "ugly duckling" bivalve, the geoduck. Pronounced "gooey-duck," this distinctly phallic shellfish produces magnificently delicious, crunchy, giant clam goodness when thinly sliced into a sashimi. And it's half off during Taylor's happy hour! Washed down with two glasses of $6 happy hour cava and you have Steve squirming with delight on his barstool.
Georgia ventured out with me for dinner and cocktails, visiting first a favorite for us in the International District––Dough Zone, a place that focuses on various Chinese dim sum faves. We love dough zone for their xiao long bao and BBQ pork buns, but our favorite thing this time around was a bowl of rich, Sichuan-spicy dan dan noodles.
On our second day, we ventured out on the ferry across Everett Bay to the quaint little port town on Bainbridge Island, blooming with early summer flowers and perfect under the mild PNW sun. It was one of the best places I have ever visited, and I loved the views on the boat ride over! We stopped for coffee at an adorable waterfront spot called Pegasus, and then strolled up to the main shopping street to take lunch at Ba Sa, one of the most exciting Vietnamese restaurants in the Seattle metro area.
Sat out on their lovely patio, we chowed down on truffled spicy shrimp dumplings, coconut and lemongrass mussels, and an incredible garlicky beef dish. The delicate but powerful flavors of Vietnamese cuisine shone through in each dish, and we wished we could have sampled more of the menu, but we had to catch a ferry back to the city so Georgia could head out to her wedding!
Georgia is learning to like sushi slowly but surely, but I knew she wouldn't be down to drop a healthy sum on a big sushi meal, so while she was celebrating at the wedding, I made my way down to my favorite spot in town, and one of my favorite sushi restaurants in the world, Sushi Kashiba, and stood in line to grab one of their coveted walk-in spots. The sushi bar is still closed, but they gave me a table out on their front patio with a view out toward Puget Sound, and I ordered the always excellent omakase.
Last time I was here, Shiro-San, the founder and namesake of this site of sushi pilgrimage, was still working behind the sushi bar, decades after he retired from his old spot on Capitol Hill. I was lucky enough to snag the last spot in front of Shiro-San at the sushi bar the first time I came to Kashiba, and had one of the best meals of my life. This time, Shiro-San, now a fragile 81 years old, was being well protected by his staff from the virus, but the hostess confided that they "can't keep him away." Much to my joy and surprise, then, Shiro-San made an appearance, and stopped by every table in the restaurant to greet the diners and make sure everything was to their liking. I even got to snap a photo with the master himself!
After appetizers that included king crab, albacore from Oregon, and a killer toro hand roll, it was off to the races on sushi omakase. The first round featured two families of fish, with a few versions of each, which is how Shiro likes to present his nigiri. On the right side, from right to left, was tuna––albacore, bluefin akami, and marinated akami, while the left side featured snapper, with the last cut, kinmedai, being my favorite, and as I recall Shiro's favorite!
After a little palate cleanser, the second set came out. More tuna was on top––marinated local albacore and toro, while salmon graced the bottom of the plate––Scottish salmon to the right and sockeye from Washington to the left. British Columbia spot prawn, which is in season, was also on this plate, along with a delicious mackerel cut.
Next up were some miscellaneous cuts––king crab from Alaska, geoduck sashimi (actually functionally discovered by Shiro-San), a spoonful of cured salmon roe, and saltwater eel to close.
I couldn't possibly have ended my sushi feast there, however––I snagged six more cuts to close things out, most suggested by my wonderful server, who had been working at Kashiba since day one. I obviously couldn't leave without sea urchin, and quickly chowed down on this amazing piece of Hokkaido uni nigiri. Two pieces of squid––the body and the legs––were next, the legs lightly grilled and served with a sweet glaze. And last on the plate was another preparation of kinmedai, this one served with a spicy plum sauce.
To close, I ordered two more decadent cuts––salmon belly, one of my favorite things, and kamatoro, tuna collar, both of which were torched so the glorious fat of the cuts rendered nicely. Such a great way to close the meal.
I love visiting Seattle. After brunch the next morning with Scott and Jacque, we visited their house and played some games, and got to see their adorable and gigantic akita, Yuki.
Seafood feasts abound! I am certainly a candidate for mercury poisoning one of these days. Georgia and I are deep into our second leg of our summer trip, so keep an eye out for our culinary adventures! Up next, a killer and super fun meal in Miami, and the magnificent culinary world of Lima, Peru!