Dishin’: A Kiss to Kisaku

Emboldened by our satisfactory sushi outing at Nishino, but wanting something a little more Japanese (the menu had that “pan-Asian” thing going, and there wasn’t a Japanese customer or server in sight) and a little less pretentious (two words: Madison Park), we made our way to Kisaku in Tangletown (near Green Lake).

Kisaku means “easygoing.” While the linen-draped tables offer an elegant touch, we immediately felt a sense of comfort at the sushi counter. Chef/owner Ryuichi Nakano has an energy and enthusiasm we appreciate, and seeing the sincerity of his care for his customers, we decided to do a sort of omakase (meaning entrust), telling him our more traditional preferences. No cooked shrimp. No spicy tuna. No fancy-dancy western-appeal rolls with local geographic references (Fremont Bridge Under Construction Roll) or death-defying “Choleste-rolls” (imagine bacon, shrimp, egg, avocado and cream cheese).

Dishin’ usually spotlights one dish, good or bad, at a restaurant. But that’s impossible this time. It was all good.

Highlights? The namako (sea cucumber): delightfully crunchy—a sign of freshness. Kaki (oysters): enlivened by a bright ponzu sauce. Bincho maguro zuke (marinated albacore): the delicate soy sauce taste made this altogether different than everyday maguro. Chu-toro (tuna): a favorite, with just the right amount of melt-in-your-mouth fat. Hotate konbu jime (scallop): kelp marinade concentrated the sweetness of the scallop; the resulting konbu flavor was umami. Uni (sea urchin gonads): texture and taste both tantalizing. Amaebi (sweet shrimp): uncooked and sweet enough to be dessert. Unagi (eel): salted instead of the usual tare (sauce), allowing the eel taste to really emerge. Toro (tuna) roll: with oshinko and shiso, a nice, in-control roll to close out the meal.

There was more. And there will be more in the future. Trusting Nakano-san’s artistry and quest for quality, Kisaku makes the search for sushi easy going.

Originally posted at Seattlest (where “we” = me) on January 12, 2007. It’s still my favorite sushi restaurant in Seattle, and I’ll have to work on getting some decent sushi shots to post.

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