[Seattle, WA] Can You Be My Sansei?

Sansei-Horizontal-Logo-ReverseSansei
815 Pine St.
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 402-4414

I figure Seattle, Washington has more truly upscale Japanese restaurants than Victoria, British Columbia. If that says something about finding a place to enjoy my meals and sample the unique, perhaps I should live in this State instead of the province to get my fusion-style cuisine on. I noticed this operation while here for my annual nerdvana. Emerald City Comicon (ECCC) and Star Trek Ultimate Voyage took place on the same weekend.

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When I arrived at the historic Paramount Theatre, I was more than gobsmacked. I was licking my lips at seeing Sansei, a seafood restaurant and sushi bar across the street. I seem to have a knack for wanting to visit well-established operations when in the States without knowing a lot about their reputation beforehand. Hitting Portland, Oregon blind years ago demonstrated that. I had little knowledge about Jakes Famous Crawfish and only heard a few stories about Voodoo Doughnuts. I rode through this city with my road trip buddy, and we lucked out in getting into two of this city’s most well-known operations.

I was not too sure about what to expect when I visited Sansei the next day to get a bite, a simple dinner — or so I hoped. I had no idea about this establishment’s excellent reputation in Hawaii until I read the literature. A quick chat with the waitress and search via Google revealed them as “one of America’s Best Sushi Bars” to which I could have spent my entire convention food allowance on or I could sit at the table for a ramen dish only to tease James from afar later. His only words over the phone were, “You’re despicable.”

I’d rather emulate Gru than Bugs Bunny, but either way, I had a look of conquest. I have found the ultimate ramen!

This establishment has plenty of mouth-watering dishes unique to this operation. Several restaurants operate at the island state and one exists in Seattle. According to their web page, they are ranked by Bon Appetite magazine as one of the best Asian Restaurants for this country and they are renowned for endless innovation with a strong Japanese accent. I’d say it’s a Euro flavour. I tried one of their signature dishes, a DK Crab Ramen with Asian truffle broth. Even though I’ve dined in many Chinese restaurants before, to find this fungus in dishes is rare. You would not find truffle offered in any restaurant catering to the common folk back home in Victoria, but over in Seattle (and in Pike Place Market), truffles are a plenty. If I had time during this visit, I would’ve visited the latter to pick up some Pacific Northwest variety.

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This dish had a nice sea flavour accented with snow crab taste throughout. The noodles were supple, and although a bit clustered, a good swirl with the chopsticks helped break up the clumps. I tasted black truffle throughout. When I’ve been using the a distilled essence of this particular variety back home, I recognized the flavour immediately. In a dish that’s $18 for a serving, there better be at least a full fungi used and they were present in tiny little bits.

Yes, James can hate me. I’ve found the ultimate ramen for the connoisseur. The cilantro and Thai helped bring the flavour of the snow crab out and everything in the dish tasted like it came out of a beautifully cooked body of this crustacean. Had more vegetables (for fiber) been offered as part of this dish, it would’ve been truly filling. I was still feeling peckish after this dish, but the sushi roll I ordered was coming soon. The dishes came out fairly quick, and I thought I’d have enough time to make it back to ECCC for the last panels. Coming here made missing one of the two discussions worth it!

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The Yellow Submarine roll had me humming The Beatle’s song as I made my way back to the convention centre. The sprouts really make the head and tail ends of this roll stand out. In between the yellow name nori skin was a beautiful combination of shrimp, kampyo, cucumber, masago (egg) and pickled ginger — yes, ginger is used in a dish for once inside of on the side. I like to think of this roll as an improved version of the futomaki roll. Different ingredients are used, but the fact the ginger really helps enhance the flavour both maki rolls make them fit into a similar category. I’m already thinking of how soon I can return to Seattle to sample the other rolls that this operation is famous for, namely the panko flash fried rolls. It’s used in their update of a tuna roll (they include spinach and arugula in it) and with me being a sucker for names to inspire me in what to eat, the Pink Cadillac (pink memenori with eel, shrimp, tamago and vegetables) has me definitely interested in coming back for more! Another roll that has my attention is the Paia Maki (using seasonal greens, avocado, asparagus, kaiware sprouts, cucumber and pine nuts) — veggie lovers should like this, assuming hey don’t have nut allergies.

When looking at their nigiri offerings, I don’t often find Shiromi (whitefish) or quail egg offered on its own. Usually, the latter is part of a tobiko but on its own is something I rarely see. Yes, I’ll be back. As for when probably this summer as I’ll travel far and wide for the exotic. I’m willing to make the light rail trek from Seatac just for the fusion style innovativeness found here! Sorry Japonessa, but you have been displaced!

4½ Blokes out of 5

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