Monday, July 18, 2005

Nishino - Seattle, WA

My last stop before I headed to the airport was a restaurant called Nishino. Nishino is known as the top Seattle sushi restaurant in the very nice Madison Park district. The restaurant has a plain yellow sushi counter with matching colored tables on an elevated platform. The decor was very Americanized, and if weren't for the sushi bar and the name of the restaurant, I would never have guessed that this was a Japanese restaurant. The vibe that night was calm, and it wasn't too crowded.

The server introduced himself, and provided us with hot damp towels to clean our hands. I inquired about the tasting menu, and he said that I wouldn't be able to order it because I didn't give them 24 hours notice. He was nice about it, but I don't know how was I supposed to know that I had to call them in advance. A little disappointed, I reviewed the menu, and I decided to start with the Nasu dengaku appetizer. Nasu dengaku is fried Japanese eggplant with miso paste. The portion of this appetizer was much larger than I expected. The nasu was cooked just right, but the miso had a bit of an after taste. By the time I got to the last few pieces, the dish lost its flair, and as a result, I had to force myself to finish it off.

For my main course, I ordered their combination sushi platter with one separate order of amaebi (sweet shrimp). Whenever I go to a quality sushi establishment there are a few different nigiri I order to test the freshness. The first is uni (sea urchin). Uni is always a hit or miss item. It could be the most delicate and flavorful piece of sushi, or it could be the most disgusting thing you've ever put in your mouth. Unfortunately that night, uni wasn't available. The second item is ikura (salmon eggs). I have the impression that ikura tends to lose its freshness faster than most types of sushi, so it's another item I like to enjoy at the finer sushi restaurants. Ikura is extremely salty, and as you chew it in your mouth you feel the pea sized eggs explode in your mouth. The third and last item I always like to try at a sushi restaurant is tamago (egg omelet). The tamago test is a very important one. Sushi restaurants are tested on the freshness of their fish, and there is almost no cooking involved. Tamago is one of the few items that the sushi chef must cook on his own, and therefore he has ultimate control over the flavor of it. And I'll be honest...I also like to order this item because it's usually the cheapest sushi on the menu. Both the ikura and tamago were included in my combination sushi plate. In addition, the combination plate came with one piece of maguro (tuna), hirame (halibut), ebi (shrimp), tobiko (herring roe), unagi (eel), sake (salmon), and one california roll. Each piece of sushi was very fresh and was very flavorful.

The other piece of nigiri I ordered, Amaebi, is one of my favorites because it tastes great and it comes with an added bonus. Real Japanese restaurants serve the amaebi along with the deep fried shrimp head. To many of you, the deep fried shrimp head may sound disguting, but I recommend that you try it. I actually like it more than the nigiri itself.

All in all, Nishino is a great sushi restaurant, but I didn't find anything too special about it. If you want quality sushi, this would be a good place to go. However, if it's a special occassion, I would recommend going elsewhere.


At 9:22 PM, Anonymous kerewin said...

I understand that you posted this ages ago, but I just found this site.

The next time you are in Seattle, try Kisaku. A bit harder to find than Nishino, but much more extraordinary. I recommend sitting at the sushi bar.


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