How It Cooks at Little Chinook’s

Following last week’s swanky sushi soiree in Madison Park, it was time for us to get back to our roots. We wanted something more worker-class. Inspired by Seattlest’s spirited discussion of fish and chips, we decided to go to Little Chinook’s at Fishermen’s Terminal.

Nishino to Little Chinook’s: seems like a complete 180, huh? At the former, you sit at the counter and let the sushi chefs and servers dote upon you; $10 brings a couple of their finest pieces of raw fish, glimmering on a gorgeous plate. At the latter, you approach the counter to bark your order, then haul your $10 disposable dish of fried dollops (anything even fish-shaped?) to an indoor picnic table of your choosing.

Actually, it’s not so opposite. A key to success for both restaurants is use of the freshest fish possible. Both serve their fish with starch: Nishino’s is draped over vinegared rice, while Little Chinook’s is thrown over soon-to-be vinegared fries. And in both cases the fish is dipped in sauce: the sushi in delicate soy, the fried in not-so-delicate tartar.

We ordered the tempura combination dinner, which came with prawns, clams, and cod (you can also get salmon and halibut), as well as forgettable fries and bland cole slaw. The fish may not have been fabulous, but they’re certainly deep-fried fun. The clams were on the small side, but we’d have eaten them even if they were just breading. Same for the shrimp. The cod was the highlight—tasty and flaky on the inside, crisp and not too greasy on the outside.

As for the tempura billing, we’re batter-baffled (as were the workers). The look and taste were the same as the other fried offerings. Perhaps this was one last attempt to draw a similarity between a fish-and-chips joint and a sushi restaurant?

Originally posted at Seattlest (where “we” = me) on December 8, 2006.

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