Sushi of Shiro in Seattle

Master Chef Shiro Kashiba is well-known in Seattle as the father of Japanese cuisine in the city. Sourcing the freshest ingredients, preparing unfussy and authentic Japanese fare in a friendly and simple environment are his signature trademarks.
The sushi counter at Shiro
Atmosphere: Unpretentious, lively and simple. In a way this restaurant reminds me Nobu’s “Matsuhisa” in Los Angeles. Simple wooden tables and chairs, japanese art on the walls, long sushi counter with busy chefs dressed all in white and of course the special doing-it-all-for-you japanese toilet. Wear jeans, shirt or anything casual except flip-flops and you will enjoy an unforgettable dinner in a full comfort.
Food: Fresh, superb quality fish and seafood, simple preparation. You are in Seattle so get ready for the best salmon you probably have ever had. The fish is so delicate, intense and complex here that I would call it a new species rather than the salmon you get elsewhere. To savour the fish the most just order it as a plain sashimi or sushi (on a bun of rice), so its flavour can reveal itself fully.
Albacore tataki salad
Starting with Albacore tataki salad, that my local friends frequenting Shiro for many years like the most from the appetizers, I knew that this dinner was going to be something out of this world in terms of dining experience. The Albacore tuna fish was so intense almost meaty in texture, but it was so perfectly balanced that only the most sophisticated palate would recognise it only by eye on a fish market. Served in yummy, melting chunks with a fermented sauce and spring onions, it was simple yet more rewarding than most of the special “new style” melon, kiwi or whatever else with tatakis I have eaten in many fashionable japanese restaurants.
The sushi and sashimi are heavenly fresh and of the highest quality. From the toro, yellowtail, salmon to lesser known fish the chef favours on the market on that certain morning. I rarely like just plain sushi and fancy the omakasa style prepared by a chef in his own original manner, but at Shiro the fish is so perfect and the rice just well-cooked and not too overly cooked and sticky that there is no need for special omakasa sushi here.
The sushi platter
The rolls are simple as well. The spicy tuna roll (top left) is out-of-ordinary and the seared salmon (centre)  and smoked eel (right) rolls are superb. The eal is served with a dense, honey-like sweet sauce atop the california-style roll. The seared salmon is accompanied with its eggs and chopped zesty green spring onions.
The sushi and sushi rolls at Shiro
Cuisine: Japanese traditional sushi and cooked meals.
Visit: October 2012
Price: High (the most famous Japanese chef in Seattle cannot sell his carefully sourced fish of highest quality for pennies).
Drinks: Beer, sake, japanese green tea and some wine, but not too much choice for wine so I went for tea this time. I have learned this time that with plain and superb quality ingredients in japanese cuisine I can appreciate the flavours better when drinking only green and grassy tea with the food. At more modern restaurants such as Nobu I need the wine to help me metabolize all the complex sauces and heavier dishes. Moreover, the acidity especially in white wine allows me to eat more of these rich dishes.
Opening hours: Dinner Mon-Sun: 5:30–10:30pm.
Contact: Tel: +1 (206) 443-9844
Address: 2401 2nd Avenue  Seattle, WA 98121, USA

Book Bindery in Seattle

Chef: Shaun McCrain has a long credit of excellent restaurants on his CV. McCrain is an Oregon native and his culinary passion lead him to cook at the legendary Masa’s as well as La Folie in San Francisco. Then he left for Paris, where he cooked at Les Elysées du Vernet and Taillevent. Returning back to his birth country, the US, he assumed a Chef de Partie position at Thomas Keller’s Per Se in New York City. With experience like that there is no wonder that he became the master of his vocation.
Ambience: A library with insights into a winery and kitchen. The restaurant is a former book bindery and its owners decided to keep this legacy installing book shelves along the walls on one side, while offering a glimpse through see-through windows into a neighboring winery along the opposite wall. The crowd is very mixed – from young sexy couples to families and old friends – bringing vibrance into the restaurant.
Food: Beginning with a board of fresh bread with generous slice of butter, followed by chef’s amuse bouche of a vegetable purée sprinkled with a dash of vanilla oil, we knew the food is going to be fresh, soothing and innovative. Indeed, it mostly was. Although the appetizer of WILD ARUGULA & CHICORY SALAD with Shaved Heirloom Radishes, Goat Cheese Croûtons, Banyuls and Rendered Duck Vinaigrette was described in a more interesting fashion than it actually tasted. It was a nice refreshing and light salad. It were the goat cheese croûtons which disappointed me as they were not cheese enough to my taste. On the other hand the HUDSON VALLEY FOIE GRAS TERRINE with Duck Tongue, Parsnip, Tart Cherries and Madeira Gelée was delicious on a slice of crispy baguette.
The ladies in our party ordered HERB ROASTED STURGEON with Potato Gnocchi, Upland Cress and Lobster Sauce. The fish was outstanding and the sauce added richness and depth that even a non-fish fan would like it. The gnocchi were soft and melted in my mouth delicately.
The male side of the table got the stunningly tender and juicy beef dish of GRILLED MISHIMA RANCH “FLAVOR CURVE” with Potato-Leek Rösti, Marinated Mushrooms, Haricots Verts and Red Wine Vinaigrette. Their grunts of satisfaction and elevated comments about its outstanding quality persuaded me to order the Mishima ranch beef next time I dine here. My local friend told me that this is the best beef farm in Washington state.
To finish we got a plate of three local cheeses. The ROGUE RIVER BLUE “BRÛLÉE” with White Wine Poached Pear, Crispy Ginger; KURTWOOD FARM’S “DINAH’S CHEESE” with Caraway-Apple Slaw; and PETIT BASQUE with Apricot Marmalade, Candied Pine Nuts. They were all mind-blowing, fresh, unique and accompanied with the right condiments.
Drinks: Located next to a winery the wine list was over-satisfying. Strong on local wine from the Washington State and Oregon, it also offered some California staples. The wine-by-the-glass list was so extensive that half of our table stuck to these. They were all excellent, priced around $10 with the big-brands a bit more (around $20). The beer selection allured our local friend who likes the local washington state brewed beers. His wife relished a seductively-looking cocktail. The bar tenders seem to know their craft well.
The Book Bindery restaurant is so versatile that one can enjoy a casual week dinner in their greenhouse overlooking the water as well as a special occasion as a weekend date or meeting with old friends one has not seen for a long time. The latter was our situation and the restaurant has done its job perfectly. Leaving us enough space to talk, yet treating us promptly and professionally.
Cuisine: New American with global influences
Location: 198 Nickerson Street, Seattle, Washington, US
Visit: March 2012
Price level: medium high, yet the quality of ingredients justifies it.
Contact&opening hours: +1(206) 283-2665; daily from 5PM

Steelhead diner at Pike Place Market in Seattle

Chef: Kevin Davis who cooked in Napa, New Orleans and Adelaide in Australia before settling in Seattle.
Asking a fish monger at the world-famous Pike Place market in Seattle, where to get the best bite to eat for lunch he sent us to Steelhead diner without even a second pondering about it. He surely knows where tho get the highest quality seafood with no fuss.
Steelhead diner in Seattle
Ambiance: Fresh, no pretensions, energetic and stylish. You can sit on a bar chair along the well-equipped bar, at the food counter of the open-style kitchen, in a comfy booth or at a classic table. Locals mix with tourists in a non-touristy setting, although Steelhead diner’s location is as touristy as it can get. The Pike Place Market is a legendary starting point or a stop-over of the passengers boarding cruise ships.
Food counter with juicy mini burgers
Food&Drinks: Fresh, high-quality, local, seafood-based dishes. The menu spans from mouth-watering oysters, staple crab cakes, caviar pies and Ivory King salmon to land-bound treasures of veggies and Washington steak. Organic and sustainable farms supply the restaurant and will thus satisfy anyone caring about environment and sustainable sourcing.
The bread is freshly baked and served with a slice of firm butter originally tinted with an olive oil and herb sauce. A good start. You can whet your appetite as the burgers, sandwiches, steaks, fish and other superbly crafted meals are being handed out by the cooks to the serving staff and carried to their final destination – the excited mouths of the diners, right in front of you.
A slice of caviar pie
We ordered ‘A SLICE OF CAVIAR PIE’ with four types of differently colored caviar on the top of a pie-shaped cream cheese, two kinds of crispy bread and sprinkle of traditional condiments (onions, eggs and chives). With a glass of crisp Washington/Oregon blend of Pinot Blanc it was a delicate gourmet experience to remember.
North Pacific oysters
The FANNY BAY, OTTER COVE and PENN COVE SELECT oysters were all locally sourced and fresh. Perfect with a mineral Sauvignon Blanc or even a light Viognier.
The CRAB CAKE is crisp and full of crab and not potatoes as it often tends to be in Europe. Sprinkled with fried parsley on a cream of pinkish sauce a la hollandaise it is a lovely starter with a glass of  a more intense white wine or a refreshing Riesling from the Washington state.
Crab cake at Steelhead diner
As a main course we got the ‘BRUTUS SALAD’ Romaine Lettuce with Whole Citrus Vinaigrette & Roasted Pine Nut Gremolata, extra topped with gently GRILLED ALASKAN IVORY KING SALMON. This Ceasar-like type of salad would conquer most of its namesake rivals. The croutons were crisp, not oily and made from a grainy bread adding them a sweat touch. Adding the light-colored Ivory King salmon delicately balanced the crispy lettuce with its soft texture, light aroma and elegant oily body. Do not be deterred by its raw ivory-white color though. It tastes better than it looks! A Pinot Gris from Dundee Hills with its much less sugary skelet than its more famous Alsatian adaptation ideally cut through the oily fish yet did not vanish in the background as its depth lingered on the palate for a while.
Ivory King salmon on a bed of salad
Cuisine: seafood in Pacific Northwest style
Location: 95 Pine Street in the historic Pike Place Market, Seattle, Washington
Visit: March 2012
Contact & opening hours: (+1)206-625-0129; daily breakfast, lunch and dinner

Brunch at Etta's in Seattle


seafood; Northwest US


March 2012


2020 Western Avenue, Seattle, WA, US


medium and good value as the portions are generous
I have been at Etta’s two years ago while visiting Seattle and it captured my taste buds then. We were so pleased with the lunch at that time so we put it on our must-do list for our next visit. It is THE BRUNCH SPOT ideal for seafood lovers appreciating high-quality ingredients.
Etta's menu


Rich, tasty, fresh and honest. Instead of a not-so-original bread basket you get a warm, freshly baked apple&cinnamon muffin with a gooey caramel sauce. Having this with a cup of coffee or tea might be a breakfast on its own for many, yet not for a hungry American or an 11ish breakfast-eater. This one one of the best muffins I ever head, I admit that, a resemblance to “Apfel strudel” from my mum might be the culprit.
Apple & cinnamon muffin

The real stuff came quickly after my strudel encounter. The ‘dungeness crab eggs benedict’ not only look dashing, they taste even better. A unique take on this staple breakfast dish as the potatoes were dashed with paprika, the fresh apples sweetened the crab meet under the volcano of irresistible hollandaise sauce. Spinach leaves kept the soft-boiled egg from soaking into the bun on which everything was piled up, so it remained crisp as I munched piece by piece on this heavenly breakfast suited for gods.
Luscious dungeness crab eggs benedict
A healthier, low-cholesterol choice was Etta’s signature ‘Rub with Love salmon’. A grilled coho salmon rubbed with spicy mix sold at Etta’s and a store at Pike Place market since it became so popular between the Etta’s devotees. Sprikled with sautéed shiitake mushrooms its health benefits soared. To make it more humane the kale was buttered, perhaps for the butter’s high Vitamin A content. The fish was delicious with intense flavors from the spice rub. A slice of cornbread pudding hidden under the kale was my favorite part of this meal. Impossible to describe, one must try it. The only minus was perhaps too buttery kale as it was just too much with an oily fish like salmon.
Etta's signature dish of salmon with sauteed buttered kale
Bizarrely, as i started with a dessert, I have accomplished my meal with a taste of a Vancouver oyster kusshi, which was praised as the best oyster ever by a local sales lady at an art gallery I visited before. I am not an oyster fan and knowing that it is an acquired taste I always give them a shot. My love for once despised olives and chocolate aversion turned obsession with any new chocolate product I confront taught me a lesson that our taste changes throughout our lives. Kusshi was one of the most delicate and savory encounters I had with this weirdly-textured mass in a shell.
Kusshi oyster


A two-minute walk from the first-ever Starbucs, they cannot serve anything else than coffees from this global giant of today. I got a japanese roasted rice tea called genmaicha which is soothing and aids digestion of a heavy brunch. The special cocktails raised my eyebrows as a robust gentleman next to me ordered ‘the bloody freeman’ , the house version of bloody mary with a roasted pork rib hanging over the glass. It is a wild take on a gazpacho, the cold vegetable soup served at creative Spanish restaurant with a bit of ham. The list of sparkles and wines is long enough, yet I am not in France or Italy so I will stick to a cup of tea with my breakfast and brunch.


Families, friends and couples – they all fit into the vibrant setting a stone-throw from the world-famous Pike Place Market in Seattle. There are two parts of the restaurant, a bar, wine racks and funky colorful art pieces fashionably hanging on the walls.
Etta’s is one of the most popular brunch spots over the weekends so I would recommend you to book it ahead otherwise you mind find yourself waiting in a long line of hungry “brunchers”. The portions are big for a breakfast meal so if you do not want to overeat on one think, share two or three dishes with your dining parter.
Contact&opening hours: (+1)206 443-6000; Mon – Thurs: 11:30am – 9:30pm | Fri: 11:30am-10pm | Sat: 9am-3pm & 4-10pm | Sun: 9am-3pm & 4-9pm

Washington State wines: weekend escape from Seattle

Wine in the US for most foreign wine drinkers means just Napa or to extend it to a maximum – California. It is often beneficial to be open-minded and try something new, perhaps even from the same “pond”.
I have been a long time admirer of Pinots from Oregon (bordering California in the North), but also caught some birds singing [my American friends] that the Washington State has some interesting liquid grapes.
So I took off further North and landed in a terroir of surprises. Ocean on one side, Canadian border on the other, and the wild Oregon in the backbone, they all surround the wine country of the Washington State.
There is no need to trail the entire State though. The locals provide a direct wine experience on their doorstep.
Just a 3o minute ride from Seattle is a wine village called Woodinville. Here many wine makers from the entire country set at least a tiny tasting room so the city dwellers have an easy escape to the country full of passion for the liquid of gods – the wine.
The Woodenville tasting rooms are segregated into three main districts and the rest which I’d call off the beaten path wineries.
"wine decoration" at Alexandria Nicole Cellars
The three “kings” are:
1) the Warehouse District: Des Voigne Cellars, Efesté and others are hidden on the 14th Avenue in the Northern tip of the town
2) the North Industrial Park: Covington Cellars and Hestia Cellars just below the Warehouse District
3) the Schoolhouse District welcoming you into the town if you come from Seattle: Alexandria Nicole Cellars, Hollywood Hill Vineyards and many others are clustered in this major spot
There are lots of small tasting rooms, but you cannot miss the oldest and the only locally producing vineyard, winery and castle in one – Chateau Ste Michelle. The history of wine making there reaches far into the Repeal of Prohibition in the US in the last century, but what is the most enthralling is its exclusive role as the pioneer of wine in the Washington State.
Today, this enchanting chateau is popular with picnic enthusiasts setting up their delicious lunches or local delicacies (often brought from the Seattles famous Pike Street Market – the sockeye salmon, artisan cheese, organic vegetables and fruits). Sipping on any locally sourced bottle of wine on the lawn of this historic property.
Sokeye salmon and halibut at Pike St. Market in Seattle
Whether you spoil yourself with a picnic or not, a visit of the chateau is a must. The tour leader is knowledgeable not only about the Ste Michelle’s award winning wines, but he has secrets to reveal during the 30 minute visit of the winery. The concluding tasting of three wines with a sweet muscat rewards you for your educational effort.
Your journey should not stop at the Chateau Ste. Michelle though as its neighbour the Columbia Winery recently renovated its tasting room and the results are worth a sip or two of their outstanding wines in a comfortable chair or couch facing a soothing fireplace.
Woodenville is for me one of the most vivid examples of an American sense for practical thinks with all special effects making your life easier – why to travel as far as to the wine country while we can set up a “tasting village” around the corner of a big city? yes, it is highly convenient. However, for the more curious I would recommend a trip to the source. The Vineyards are just so beautiful and the wine makers’ passion for their “liquid daily bread” is something worth the extra mile.

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