Wednesday, June 6, 2012


I planned to write about a new place this week, but due to lack of time I haven't been able to make it anywhere new (or new to this blog) yet. I will be posting again most likely by Friday, so check back soon if interested.

Last week I went back to Ft. St. George for lunch. I have posted about Ft. St. George in the past, in which I mentioned that I would post about a dish called doria in the future. Doria is a bit like curry (not in taste), in that it is not traditional Japanese food, but it has been in Japan long enough that it is considered to be "Japanese." Honestly I did not know much about the history of doria until reading about it for this blog post. I always though it was introduced in the past 20 years due to its use of cheese. Cheese is very rare to find in Japanese food. It is not found in any traditional Japanese foods that I am aware of and was introduced by foreign influences. It was first invented in Paris by Italian chefs and introduced to Japan in 1925 by a French chef from Switzerland.

Doria is basically Japanese gratin. It is rice covered in a white sauce, somewhat similar to an alfredo sauce, and topped with cheese and usually some type of meat such as chicken or bacon with vegetables. I have not actually had any good doria in American other than at Ft. St. George. Surprisingly, this restaurant actually surpasses what I have had in Japan. The reason is that the rice underneath is not just plain rice but is missed with finely chopped carrots and onions, which does a lot for flavor and texture. Typically I order the broccoli and mushroom combo, as I prefer to order vegetarian when I can because I used to be a pescetarian and really try to avoid bacon. There are other options that are delicious as well though if you do not share my feelings toward bacon. The dish is amazing and I always find myself wanting more, no matter how full I am. I highly recommend you try it at least once.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Sushi at Tsukushinbo

Today I went to a place called つくしんぼ  Tsukushinbo. This place a a hidden gem in the International district, across the street from Fuji Sushi, which I have posted on previously. It is located on Main St between 5th and 6th Ave. The food speaks for itself at this place. So much so that they do not even have a sign out front and if you don't time it right you will be waiting a very long time for your table, sometimes even for lunch. I went today for their okonomiyaki, which is their Wednesday lunch special, but they were already out of it by 1PM (they are open for lunch from 12-2PM). I was disappointed, as I would like to post on okonomiyaki. It is a very unique dish. Perhaps next week I will show up earlier.

So I ordered their 'sushi combo A', pictured above. It comes with まぐろ [maguro] (tuna), すずき [suzuki] (sea bass), サーモン [sa-mon] salmon, はまち [hamachi] (yellowtail), さば [saba] (mackerel), and えび [ebi] (shrimp), as well as a 6pc. tuna roll for a fair price. To many people, sushi is sushi, but there is definitely a difference. This place has extremely fresh fish and their chef(s) take great care with every cut, and it shows. Many of my friends would likely prefer another place for sushi, such as some of the places in Belltown, as they have more "exciting" types of sushi (read: fusion). While fusion sushi can be good, I do not consider it to be truly Japanese, and much prefer the beautiful simplicity of authentic.

Tsukushinbo is a family-run restaurant, and it is about the quality of what they are giving the customer, rather than pure profit. I was the only person at the sushi bar today as I showed up toward the end of their lunch, which gave me the chance to speak to the chef. He gave me many tips for finding other types of Japanese food in Seattle. I have found this to be the case at many Japanese restaurants. The owner or chef will always be open to recommending other Japanese restaurants. The way the chef put it to me today is that they look out for one another and try to help each other out. It is not all about competition. I think this is due to the Japanese culture in general, which I find truly inspiring. The waitress brought me my bill after I was done, but I had ordered a piece of いくら [ikura] (salmon roe), which is typically $2-3/pc. that she was not aware of. I asked the chef to correct the bill, but he said do not worry about it. This place has amazing food and knows how to make someone feel at home. I highly recommend it. Just remember what I said about reservations, particularly if going for dinner.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Authentic yakisoba

Yesterday I tried a place that I hadn't been to before called Cutting Board, which is located in Georgetown. I have been meaning to try this place since I first heard about it a couple of years ago, but I never made it there until yesterday. I have to say, I regret not trying it sooner! They have a very extensive menu, with many of the items original. When I saw that they served yakisoba, I knew that I had to order it. I had not been successful in finding good, authentic yakisoba in Seattle until now. Yes, there are plenty of teriyaki places that serve "yakisoba," but typically the dishes at teriyaki places do not capture the distinct flavor that authentic yakisoba is supposed to have. Yakisoba is probably derived from Chinese influence and in particular chow mein, per Wikipedia. That being said, it does not taste like chow mein at all, at least in my humble opinion.
The restaurant offered several options of yakisoba, and I chose the seafood option, which came with scallops, shrimp, and calamari. The seafood was cooked to absolute perfection. It is very easy to overcook small scallops and calamari, but it was tender as could be without being undercooked. It is probably the best sauteed calamari I have had in years. They gave about as many shrimp as you would expect (not that many), but they were more than generous with both the calamari and the scallops. The flavor of the dish was perfect, and although it felt like a lot of food, it did not sit too heavy in my stomach. I asked for some sauce on the side as it has been years since I have had true homemade yakisoba sauce and I have missed it dearly. It was amazing.

My girlfriend was with me and she ordered the chicken katsu curry. The curry is hands down the best I have had in Seattle, and the chicken katsu was very juicy and tender.

I cannot recommend this place more highly. I will be going back as often as possible.When I first found this place I was surprised that could stay in business, as it is in an industrial district that does not seem to be all that accessible; a place where you would expect to find lunch foods such as Philly cheese-steaks and the like, rather than authentic Japanese food. Good food cannot stay hidden though I suppose, and I hope that this place remains open for a very long time.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Chicken Katsu-Don @ Fuji Sushi

Today I went to a place called Fuji Sushi which is in the International District near my workplace. It is located down the street from Ft. St. George (the place I wrote about last week) on Main Street between 5th and 6th Ave. Fuji Sushi is my favorite Japanese place in Seattle and I highly recommend it. They have a traditional room with tatami mats for parties of four or more (with a minimum price spent per person) that is definitely worth if if you are so inclined. I met the owner while working at a restaurant supply store a few years ago when I had just gotten back from Japan. I gave his place a try because he was such a nice guy, and I have been going back as much as I can ever since.

Although it is called Fuji Sushi, they serve home-style (read: cooked) Japanese food as well. Today I ordered chicken katsudon. It is a dish of chicken katsu, onions, and eggs served over a bowl of rice with ginger for cleansing the palate. Chicken katsu is breaded chicken Japanese style. Traditionally katsu is pork, not chicken, and is referred to as tonkatsu. In general tonkatsu has more flavor but is fattier. I try to minimize how much pork I eat so tend to favor chicken katsu, although I noticed in Japan it can be kind of difficult to find katsu made of chicken, it is almost always pork -- at least on the island of Kyushu.

Typically tonkatsu is served with miso soup, rice, and pickled items called tsukemono on the side, rather than over rice in a single bowl, and then covered with a sauce known simply as "tonkatsu sauce." I sometimes refer to tonkatsu sauce as 'Japanese barbecue sauce' to those that do not know Japanese food, although I would have to say that is stretching it quite a bit. It is very sweet and is mostly made of apples, giving it a very unique flavor. According to Wikipedia, the precursor to tonkatsu was actually introduced to Japan by the Portugese, which I had not known before but is very interesting to me. When I lived in Nagasaki I noticed many foods that had obvious European or Chinese influence, but typically the European-influenced dishes were spelled in Katakana, which is a phonetic 'alphabet', distinct from Hiragana and Kanji, that is typically only used to spell foreign words. Tonkatsu is spelled with Kanji, making me think that it is one of the few dishes with foreign origins that Japanese people love so much that they have fully adopted it as part of their culture and made it their own. Whatever the reasoning, I do know that it is delicious!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Hamburger Steak Curry

Today I went to Ft. St. George, which is a small (fusiony) Japanese restaurant and bar near my workplace in the International District (601 S King St Ste 202). I have been going there for years, but I can see how this place would go unnoticed to the average person as it is inside a building and up two flights of steps; a kind of hidden gem. They specialize in Japanese-style/fusion pasta, which I am not really into, as well as Japanese Curry and Doria (both of which I love).Today I had Hamburger steak curry, which was amazing. Japanese-style hamburger steak is like Salisbury steak with chopped onions and breadcrumbs mixed into it before the patty is formed. It has a very distinct flavor and is probably not anything close to the Salisbury steak you may have had in Western cuisine. They use a sauce for it that is reminiscent of Tonkatsu sauce, although I am not sure if that is what it is; whatever it is I love it. 

The hamburger steak is served over rice and Japanese-style curry, which is much thicker than other curries such as Indian or Southeast Asian, as well as a lot less spicy. It typically has carrots and often potatoes cooked in it, although Ft. St. George does not use potatoes. The curry is not the best I have had, but it is better than most. There is a place nearby which I prefer for curry, but they do not have the hamburger steak option, and Ft. St. George is the best place that I know of in Seattle for this particular dish. It is very much like what I ate in Japan and I try to make it there as often as I can. I also go there often for their Doria, which I will describe in a later post. I would definitely recommend this place to anyone interested!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

My first blog post!

I intend for this blog to be a documentation of my thoughts and opinions on any Japanese food that I come across in the future. I tend to eat Japanese food frequently although lately I have been somewhat low on funds so it has not been as often as I would like! I am by no means an expert, although my girlfriend's father was a sushi chef for many years, and I lived in Japan for half a year, so my tastes tend to lean towards authentic rather than fusion, and can be a bit discriminating at times. This is my first blog so bear with me as I learn the ropes!