Shiro’s Sushi

by KimHo on June 22, 2010 · 14 comments under: Food,Restaurant,Travel

Shiro’s Sushi
2401 2nd Ave
Seattle, WA
Shiro's on Urbanspoon

If you were to go to a sushi restaurant, how much are you willing to spend? I am sure that most people won’t be willing to fork more than $30. At that price point, some say something on the lines of “I might as well go to an all-you-can-eat”. To those who plan to bash me for saying that, I will admit, I used to belong to that group. Used to is, of course, the key phrase. I have learned that food that you can’t prepare yourself and have some level of enticement will lead big $$. Of course, like most of you, I have a budget and going to a restaurant that will require me to go for a filet-o-fish afterwards isn’t something I would consider either.

But, going back to the sushi restaurant question. I have observed that, for most people, sushi equals to makizushi or rolls. For the most part, I won’t argue with you if you like it that way; however, it takes away the skill of the chef. After all, if you throw in a jagged/below average cut of fish in a roll, chances are you won’t notice it (unlike, say, sashimi or nigiri sushi). However, I will give them some points due to the fact it can be more “shareable” compared to nigiri sushi, which I usually end up getting, as I usually go out by myself.

That brings then the issue of economics. Between $3 to $10 a roll, most people will be satisfied to a certain extent. Satisfied their sushi craving and ready to move on. But, given the commonality of such dish in Vancouver (are there more Starbucks or sushi restaurants in Vancouver, anyway?), one way to entice customers is to lower their price at the expense of quality. But, when the majority of customers accept that compromise, at times, there is nothing preventing these restaurants to go even lower (usually by lowering quality) to satisfy the customer’s demands. At one point, if people see a piece of nigiri sushi for $4, they might say you will be nuts to pay for that single morsel…

Finally, summarizing all this, it brings me back to the sushi restaurants I have visited: for the most part, these are Chinese or Korean owned, which follows the consumer demand/quality trend mentioned above (some more towards one side than the other). Of course, I have been to Japanese owned and operated, as well (Shima-Ya). However, I also believe I should try something “better” (short of travelling to Japan, like ET and Christina of Doesn’t TaZte Like Chicken did). And, in a fortunate turn of events, I was in Seattle with a meal budget and decided to visit a Japanese owned and operated – Shiro’s Sushi.

Shiro's, Sushi, Japanese, Seattle

Actually, I had two places in mind, Shiro’s and Kisaku; however, the later was a bit farther from where I was staying plus timing was a bit complicated. In the end, after reading the thoughts of o-toro (of Foodosophy), I decided to jump in and go to Shiro’s instead.

The restaurant is “divided” in the bar section and the table section. Since I was by myself and one seat just opened in the bar, I was given that seat. I will admit, it was fun on my side as well; however, I wasn’t seated on the side were Shiro himself was working on. Don’t get me wrong, the itamae on my side did all he could to entertain us (more below) but he couldn’t top the interaction with Shiro-san… Now, to the food!

Shiro's, Sushi, Japanese, Seattle, sashimi

Shiro's, Sushi, Japanese, Seattle, sashimi, salmon

I started off with a large plate of sashimi (15 pieces), in this case three different types. You couldn’t notice any coldness or icy taste/texture in the meat; it is as if they were just cut out of the fish themselves. No fishy taste; in fact, some pieces had some sweetness in it. I don’t think I have had anything similar in Vancouver (but, then again, how many sushi places of this caliber I have visited???). However, despite it was all good, I must also regret ordering this… OK, let me elaborate. It was worth all the $24 this plate costs; however, after seeing the nigiri sushi they were cranking out, I thought I would have been able to try different versions than restricting myself to this. After finishing my order of sashimi, the itamae took his time to present my next piece of sushi. Yes, it wasn’t served all at once (like those served on the tables) but one piece at a time. My first piece was…

Shiro's, Sushi, Japanese, Seattle, uni, sea urchin, roe

Uni. I wasn’t sure why I chose this one, as I wasn’t sure they would use fresh uni. But, regardless I don’t regret ordering this. It had a creamy, almost custardy texture but, of course, with a savoury, slightly salty taste. Unlike some other places where they added some shiso leave, probably to hide some characteristics, the one here didn’t have that additional component. Was it was worth $4? Yes, it was…

Shiro's, Sushi, Japanese, Seattle, spot prawn, sushi

The next one was spot prawn. Given it is spot prawn season and how close is Seattle from Vancouver, I would certainly expect this to be in the menu as well. The “good” thing is that there was a bit of show in the form of the itamae “presenting” the live prawn first. He then takes it back, wraps the prawn in a towel and, after saying sayonara (as a departing message), it cracks the head. After doing further prep, I was served the serving shown above.

Shiro's, Sushi, Japanese, Seattle, spot prawn, sushi

It was sweet; however, I think there was a bit too much wasabi as it obliterated that initial sweetness hint I got. However, it is a case of you leaving it to the hands of the itamae, rather than how you believe is better or what is up to your liking. Would I order it again? Before I answer that, let me put part two of this order…

Shiro's, Sushi, Japanese, Seattle, spot prawn, fried, head

Shiro's, Sushi, Japanese, Seattle, spot prawn, fried, head

Yup, similar to a lot of restaurants here, they fry the head crisp. And, yes, the head innards taste was there but not as strong as if they would have been steamed. And, given it was crispy to the point of it being crumbly, I ate this one almost in a single bite (I didn’t as I was careful of not piercing myself). Again, it was all worth it for $4…

Shiro's, Sushi, Japanese, Seattle, geoduck

My third piece ended up being geoduck. Probably with the exception of sea cucumber, if there is some form of seafood where you can make dirty jokes about, would be this. I will spare you of those details, though… (and probably leave them to Sherman?). Anyway, here is another part on how different is the service here. “No soy sauce!” warned me. I just grabbed that piece and popped it into my mouth. There was some sea salt on top which enhanced the sweetness of the geoduck. Furthermore, its crunchy texture contrasted the rice, which, up to that point, I will admit I didn’t pay as much attention. That was because, in all instances, the topping took the main role and made me forget the shari was even there! Once again, for $4, it was well worth it…

At that point, I had to do a quick math on how much I had spent so far and rather than keep on going, I had to stop, mainly because, by the time I hit taxes and tips, I would be really close to my allocated budget. Again, the reason of my comment behind the sashimi order. If I had continued, I think I could have easily ordered at least three more pieces.

In itself, it is really an experience. One of the customers seated beside me was also quite enthusiastic. She liked the salmon piece so much she ordered a second piece later in the meal. However, rather than serving the exact same iteration, that second piece was prepared in a slightly different way. Guess it pays to know when you are interacting with one of the chefs directly…

Was price an issue overall? As mentioned, every single piece was worth its price but, given it is not cheap, I don’t think it is something I would be doing so on a constant basis. Rather, now that I am back in Vancouver, I would rather save the $$$ and go to a more decent place. Which brings the next big question… Where? That’s the topic of another post I guess. As for Shiro’s, yes, definitely, if I am in Seattle (regardless if I am in a business meal budget or not), I believe this is a really good option for sushi. The other question is whether I want to now try Kisaku as well for comparison purposes…

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