304 6th Ave S
Phone: +1 206-622-2631
I visited Seattle, Washington many times and while readers may find it strange I have not been to Maneki—this city’s most famous Japanese restaurant—my reason is the International District is a fair distance from the Convention Center. Quite often my stamina after taking in Emerald City Comic Con needs more than a better pair of shoes to keep going. I’m thankful this operation managed to stay in operation when the pandemic was a huge thing. I’m planning a trip back to this city in the Spring to see what’s changed.
In the meantime, I’ll be offering a review of what I loved when I was there last. My apologies for the lack of photos as my phone was low on power (images used are from online), and I thought I had posted this review. It did not show up in my search when I was fondly talking about this place on Facebook’s Seattle Foodies group.
My original post follows:
Even on a busy Sunday, Maneki is busy. Fortunately, since I was here by myself, I was told that I can get a seat at the bar instead of waiting an hour for a regular table. I ordered my favourite brand of Japanese beer (Asahi), looked at the menu and pondered how much sushi I could have. The prices are on par with those back home to places like Futa and Omakase, so I avoided repeating familiar dishes. Their Jojo Roll (fresh water eel, cucumber, radish sprouts) was very warming. The rice was at an immaculate temperature and the homemade sauce was not overwhelming. I could taste all the flavours in this combination roll.
I also tried their variation of a Futomaki roll, which I did not finish. I was offered a container to take the rest home and I did, but not without a side order of gyoza to warm me up. I’m fairly sure their recipe is not advertised so competitors can not copy. Out of all the varieties I sampled at different places, this particular dumpling made my soul come alive and smile after a long day.
Thankfully I did not stop there. I asked if uni (sea urchin) was available. The female bartender said yes and they served it live! The shell is not opened until you order it. My ears waggled in excitement and they served up a very affordable and large dish to make my tummy say “yummy!” Yes, this delicate part is perfect. Nothing was added on to spoil the straight from the sea flavour. The portions and cost behind this item surprised me. I could have for another; I’m fairly certain the receipt said $9 (a far better price than any I’ve seen back home). Not since that one trip on a boat years ago with a fisherman has my tongue tasted this sensation again! Readers interested in my experience during that trip from long ago can find the article here.
While they do not have lobster sashimi (I asked) for the adventurous to sample, I’m certainly marking this place as a must visit for the sheer pleasantness of being in this space. It was laid back and not rushed. The variety of dishes have an air and look of being more traditional than hipster. I also had an eye on the various dishes served to fellow bar patrons. The bartender knows her nigiri and talked about how the flavour of salmon changes by region. They even had some brought down from British Columbia, if I remember correctly. Being at the bar gave me an opportunity to chat with fellow nerds (there must have been some Xbox competition happening nearby as gamers were there, and I talked to a couple from California). The bar can comfortably have up to eight people here without feeling cramped.
Reservations are recommended on a busy Friday or Saturday night.
5 Blokes out of 5