OK, first I wanted to give a shout out to one of my favorite "carousel" or "off-the-belt" sushi joints in Seattle. I give you SUSHILAND! I must say this beats the other big contender, Blue C Sushi, in taste and especially value. I do have one food pic to offer you of what you can expect:
Anyway, I (and my beautiful company) had a lot of really good dishes. I tend to stick with my favorites: salmon nigiri, smoked salmon nigiri, California roll, crab salad gunkan, and calimari. There are a couple of other ones but I can't think of them at the moment. The salmon nigiri is fresh and tasty, as well as it's smoked brother (or sister, mother, father, etc). The smoked taste gives the salmon a nice grilled aftertaste, and changes the texture to more flaky than mushy. The California roll has it all with the crab, avocado, cucumber and fish roe. The crab salad gunkan is just tasty imitation crab. Finally the calimari is chopped into smaller bite-size pieces and fried fresh. Mmm.
Now for the moment you've been waiting for.....the review of Sushiland. Again, I will be using my 5-doughnut rating system.
- Service, 3.5 doughnuts= We were promptly seated and the waiters/cooks checked up on us frequently (but not too frequently where they're annoying) to see if we needed any refills or special orders. Not bad for this type of restaurant.
- Atmosphere/Location, 2.5/3 doughnuts= The atmosphere is nothing special. The main thing was that it was clean. The interior doesn't get much natural light, so it feels a little enclosed (at the Bellevue location) as opposed to the one in Queen Anne. The location is kinda weird. It's nestled on a side street off of 2nd in Bellevue (there's also one on 15th downtown). It works though, since it's in the heart of the city.
- Food Presentation, 3 doughnuts= Well, it's sushi on a plate. Most of them aren't "doctored up" but just placed on a mini plate for quick eating. There are a couple that are garnished with something or drizzled with some special sauce that give them extra flair, I guess. Nevertheless, it's not a bad presentation for this type.
- Cost/Value, 5 doughnuts= I have to say this place is one of my favorites because of the value. You get delicious, quick, and healthy food for a great value. I finally found the best place to go if you want a ton of good, fresh sushi (I love sushi) but without the usual sushi pricetag.
- Taste, 3.5 doughnuts= It's really good sushi, but not the best. Of course the really great sushi is found at restaurants that don't involve a rotating belt, like off an assembly line. However, it definitely does the job and I am always satisfied after leaving Sushiland.
- Originality, 1.5 doughnuts= Nothing too original here. It's just another rotating belt sushi joint. I guess it's cool how the cooks and waiters all greet you and say goodbye/thank you when you leave. I guess that's a little original.
- Overall, 3.5 doughnuts= This is one of my favorite sushi joints. Good sushi for an exceptional value. I totally recommend hitting up a Sushiland near you (I like the Queen Anne joint the best).
Next off is Wann, a Japanese restaurant in Belltown which serves up izakaya. Izakaya is a term for Japanese bar food. I guess the equivalent would be tapas (mini, tasty dishes with variety). Again, I totally apologize for not having taken pictures of all the delicious food I tried. I guess I was so hungry that I just went for the food once it came out. I will make it up to you all with tons of food pictures on the next one. I was able to take a couple of pics in the restaurant though, so you can see the atmosphere.
The interior is actually very nice. It has a nice mood-light type of setting where you feel comfortable just sitting back and relaxing. You can choose either a comfy booth or sit at one of the roomy tables with equally comfy seats. They even have a lit candle on the table for that nice, quiet, homey setting.
We had the Crunchy Garlic Rock Shrimp, the Chicken Nanban, the Spicy Pork Potstickers, the Wann Short-Ribs, and a California Roll. The Rock Shrimp was pretty good. I don't know if I totally liked the batter it was rolled in. They were almost like nonpareils. I guess it was the "garlic". Although it gave the shrimp a weird bite to it, it was pretty tasty. The Chicken Nanban is egg batter dipped fried chicken with sweet vinegar and house made tartar sauce. This was a great dish. It was pretty much seasoned and tasty chicken tenders with this special sauce. The Spicy Pork Potstickers were delicious, although a little too spicy for my taste. I love food too much to have to sweat through it just to enjoy it. Next time I'll ask to omit the hot sauce. The California Roll was just a nice appetizer. It was freshly made but nothing too exciting. Last, but certainly not the least, is the Wann Short-Ribs. Wow, these marinated ribs were pretty much fall-off-the-bone status. They were marinated with some special sauce that was infused into the meat. So good! I will definitely get the short-ribs again.
OK, onto the review of Wann in Belltown (downtown Seattle):
- Service, 1.5 doughnuts= I have to say that I wasn't too impressed with the service. When we first got in, we had to wait for a lot longer than we should have just to be seated. There were two servers, but they seemed to be focusing on one other table in one of the private dining areas. We were only asked a couple of times if we needed a refill or anything. I think I had to flag down the waiter/waitress to get more water at least 2-3 times myself. Lastly, the ribs didn't come out until towards the end of our meal when we were almost ready to go.
- Atmosphere/Location, 5/4.5 doughnuts= The atmosphere is very nice. I did enjoy the look of the interior with the mood-lighting and Asian accents. There was even a lit zen garden underneath the booths. Also, the bathroom was awesome looking. It was decked out in slate tile and was very clean and neat. Plus, there was a motion detection paper towel dispenser. I love those things.
- Food Presentation, 4.5 doughnuts= The presentation was very nice for most of the dishes. They were served up on really nice curved dishes and garnished or drizzled with something colorful and/or aesthetically pleasing.
- Cost/Value, 3.5 doughnuts= It was dinner in Seattle. With that taken into consideration, the prices for the dishes were reasonable. The food was great and so it was actually worth their respective pricetags. Our party of two came out to about $40 or so for all those dishes.
- Taste, 4 doughnuts= The food was very tasty. I liked all the edible garnishes and special sauces that were added to compliment the food. They were like gourmet Japanese tapas. They all had a lot of flavor.
- Originality, 4 doughnuts= I don't see a lot of Japanese izakaya places around here, or anywhere else. I'm glad I got introduced to the Japanese "tapas" or barfood. Damn tasty barfood!
- Overall, 4 doughnuts= If the service could be a little more accommodating, I'd probably bump this up half a point higher. The food was great, and I loved the atmosphere/ambiance. I guess it also helped having a pretty someone to eat and talk with over dinner. ;)
Before I forget.....the Bite of Seattle is this weekend, starting this Friday and through Sunday. There will be food vendors from different restaurants in the city, along with the normal food vendors that show up to every big Seattle event. I actually still feel full from last night, so I don't know if I can eat like I did last year. Anyway, go check it out.
OK people, check back on occasion to learn about new places to eat. By the way, I'm looking into possibly getting some sponsors to help me with a food review tour here in Seattle. Wouldn't that be awesome? I already have the desire, drive, and website to get started. I'm slowly building a network/client base for such a thing, and I already have interested parties to join the tour. I'd probably want small parties for each restaurant I visit and critique. More people would help me get a couple more opinions on the food and restaurant, and be more enjoyable since there will be others to eat with (I hate eating alone).I would visit a new restaurant maybe once a week or so. So, if you're interested and live in the city.....let me know!