Posts Tagged ‘Sushi’

O’shan Sushi – 9/3/11


Location: 5809 24th Ave NW


Tues-Sat: 4:30pm-9:30pm

Sunday: 4:30pm-9pm

Since it was warmer than usual early Saturday evening, J and I decided we wanted sushi for dinner. I looked at the Ballard restaurant list on our fridge and realized we could finish off the sushi restaurants in Ballard by choosing O’shan Sushi.

O’shan Sushi, located on 24th Avenue, looks like the tiny sushi bars I’ve seen on travel programs. Limited seating. Shoji screens on the walls. Large bottles of sake wrapped in white rice paper lining one part of the bar. Dark wood. Soothing blue walls. It really is an atmospheric, romantic little place.

They offer a surprisingly large menu of Japanese food for such a small space. A long list of appetizers. A few dinner plates like yakisoba and udon. And sushi menu with many unique roll options. Our interest was immediately piqued by the choices.

The Service:

Our server was friendly and fast even though she was the only person working the quickly filling restaurant.

The Drink:

I ordered a small glass of Kurosawa Kimoto Junmai, a crisp, refreshing sake with fruity undertones of melon and berry. Very nice.

J chose the House Cold Sake which he declared was “Passable.”

The Food:

The sushi roll choices at O’shan were so varied and interesting that rather than ordering our usual gyoza appetizer and two rolls, we opted for three sushi rolls.

First, the O’shan Roll, spicy salmon and cucumber topped with albacore, avocado, house ponzu sauce, and scallions. The server had described this roll as being topped with “seared tuna” so we expected the tuna to be obviously seared. Instead it was more like a lit match was held above the roll for a couple of seconds. Just the faintest sear. J found the tuna to be slimy while I just thought it completely lacked flavor. Not the best roll.

Next, the Tuna Poke Roll, tempura fried scallion and cucumber topped with tuna, avocado, and sweet chili sauce. This roll had the same issue as the first. Slimy, flavorless fish.  The weird, tempura fried scallion were too slippery to eat. And until I re-read the description, I honestly thought the sweet chili sauce was a melon sauce. It didn’t have any chili flavor and was far too sweet. Not a good roll either.

Finally, the Salmon Skin Roll, crispy salmon skin, gobo, avocado, kaiware, and cucumber. The best roll of the three. The crunchy texture was fairly tasty change from the limp, sliminess of the previous rolls. The flavors melded well. Another reason for preferring this roll is because it had the least amount of O’shan’s sushi rice.

Overall, the rice at O’shan was not good. Gummy to the point of almost being like glue. Horrible texture. The rice was also way too sweet. So sweet, in fact, that the cloying sweetness interfered with the flavors of the rolls. Even the salmon skin roll, that we actually liked, tasted too sweet. Since rice is the foundation of sushi rolls, if the rice is bad then the roll can’t be saved … unless it has a minimum amount of rice.

The Price:

Kurosawa Kimoto Junmai Sake: 7.00

House Cold Sake: 8.00

O’shan Roll: 10.50

Tuna Poke Roll: 12.00

Salmon Skin Roll: 5.00

The Verdict:

O’shan Sushi turned out to be a real disappointment. We had high hopes when we walked in. The atmosphere is lovely, calm and romantic. The service was good. My sake, at least, was tasty and refreshing. But none of that changes the fact that the sushi did not taste good. Gummy rice. Flavorless, slimy fish. Weird textures. The bad rolls overwhelmed the positive impression we had of O’shan.

Even though we really liked the feel of O’shan, unless someone tells us the food has improved, we won’t be back.

Now that we have eaten at all four of Ballard’s sushi restaurants (Shiku, Moshi Moshi, Sam’s Sushi, and O’shan), J and I feel that we’re ready to declare our favorite sushi restaurant in Ballard.

We agree that our favorite sushi place is Shiku. Great atmosphere. Tasty gyoza. Huge rolls. A rotation of interesting specials. Fresh, flavorful fish. The best Long Island Iced Tea (so far) and the neatest women’s restroom in Ballard.

Moshi Moshi comes in a very close second for their great Happy Hour menu. I would Sam’s Sushi is third for the size of their rolls and the price. O’shan gets fourth place only because their rolls were not good.

Categories: Restaurants Tags: , , ,

Sam’s Sushi – 7/12/11


Location: 5506 22nd Ave NW


Mon  – Fri: 10am-3pm, 4:30pm-10pm

Saturday: 12pm-3pm, 4:30pm-10pm

Sunday: 4:30pm-9pm

On Tuesday, due to my need to read “A Dance with Dragons”, J indulged my request to go out for dinner. That’s how we ended up at Sam’s Sushi.

Sam’s Sushi was Ballard’s only sushi restaurant for years. This unassuming place just north of the Market/22nd/Leary intersection is the only sushi place open for lunch. It has no nonsense decorating with comfortable booths and tables match the affordable menu. They offer the usual array of Japanese food: sushi, udon, yakitori, sake, Sapporo and bento boxes without the hipster, upscale atmosphere of some of the other sushi places in Ballard. No fancy cocktails or industrial decoration here. Just a simple sushi joint.

The Service:

Great service. Once J arrived, our order was taken and arrived with amazing speed.

The Drink:

J and I shared a large carafe of cold Nigori Sake. This creamy, unfiltered sake was much sweeter than J expected but I liked its cool texture.

The Food:

We started with our usual appetizers. The Edamame, while piping hot and well salted, were just too overcooked for my taste. I like a “snap” to my edamame and the ones at Sam’s Sushi were mushy.

Our second appetizer was the Gyoza, wonton wrappers filled with pork. These arrived just slightly pan-fried. Virtually all other gyoza I’ve had, the exterior was fried to the point of crunchiness so these were an interesting change. J loved them.

We chose two specialty rolls from their menu. First, simply for the name, the Spider Man Roll, soft-shelled crab, mixed greens, avocado and cilantro topped with crabmeat, spicy mayo, and tobiko. This roll was huge. Twice the size of any other sushi roll I’ve ever had. Not only was it huge but also the majority of the roll was filled with ingredients other than rice. Only a small ring of rice surrounded the delicious, crunchy, fried crab bits, fresh avocado and mixed greens. Each piece took two or three bites to finish.

Our second, equally huge specialty roll was a Lobster Roll with fresh lobster, mixed greens, cucumber and cilantro. Large hunks of lobster filled this roll with just a hint of bite from the cilantro. Flavorful and tasty as well.

The Price:

Large Nigori Sake: 7.50

Edamame: 4.50

Gyoza: 6.50

Spider Man Roll: 8.95

Lobster Roll: 11.50

The Verdict:

J and I agreed that Sam’s Sushi is a really good, cheap sushi alternative to the other, hipster-ish sushi joints in Ballard. Surprisingly good and huge rolls. Great prices. Quiet atmosphere. If you wanted a non-threatening sushi restaurant to take a newbie to, Sam’s Sushi would be the place. Their rolls aren’t too weird and if you don’t want sushi, there’s a nice menu of non-sushi options.

Is it the best sushi place in Ballard? No, but for the price it’s pretty good.

Categories: Restaurants Tags: , , ,

Moshi Moshi Sushi – 5/8/11


Location: 5324 Ballard Ave


Mon-Thurs: 4:30-11

Fri-Sat: 4:30-1am

Sun: 3-10

Happy Hour:

Mon-Thurs: 4:30-6, 10-11

Fri-Sat: 4:30-6, 11-1

Sun: 4:30-6, all night at the bar

I craved some sushi so we chose our destination from the remaining 3 sushi restaurants using the time honored method of rolling a d6. Moshi Moshi, the most up scale of the Ballard sushi joints, turned out to be our randomly picked destination.

We lucked out going on a Sunday. The Happy Hour menu is available all evening on Sundays when you take a seat at the L-shaped bar. Moshi Moshi feels kind of like a Belltown restaurant. A chic, industrial feel with muted tones and metal. A hostess at the door. Two levels of seating. A pretty nice place.

The Service:

Considering that Moshi Moshi was hopping, the service we received was quick and courteous. As usual for a sushi place, our order arrived quickly, even though we ordered a few things that were cooked.

The Drink:

I chose a small glass of Moon Ring sake which tasted light and ricey. J couldn’t resist ordering Demon Slayer sake which was nearly like water and better than the Moon Ring. Unlike some other sushi place, sake at Moshi Moshi is served as 4 oz shots rather than in a sake carafe.

The Food:

Since the Happy Hour menu had a great selection of relatively cheap choices, we decided to get a few items from it and one roll.

First appetizer, Edamame, steamed soybeans with sea salt. The bowl came to us still steaming. I found the edamame to be a bit overcooked making the beans mushier than I prefer.

Another appetizer we tried was the Agedashi Tofu, fried tofu with soy dashi, ginger, scallion and bonito flake. I’m not usually a fan of tofu but I’ve tried and liked fried tofu at a couple of places. This fried tofu was less fried and more like regular tofu with a slight covering of panko that got soggy real fast. Definitely had too much of the squishy, slimy taste that makes me not like tofu in the first place.

We also ordered the Beef Kushi Sashi, flat iron teriyaki beef on skewers. This turned out much more to my liking with tender, flavorful beef with a slight sweet and salty taste.

Next appetizer, the Gyoza, pan fried dumplings filled with pork, beef and shitake mushrooms with gyoza sauce. These, too, were very good with a nice mix of flavors and textures in the filling.

Our last choice was the Kalbi Short Ribs, teriyaki marinated beef short ribs. Like the skewers, the beef was very tender and lacked the gristle that I’ve found renders some kalbi short ribs nearly inedible.

For our roll we chose the Moshi Moshi 2.0, king crab, cucumber, shiso topped with scallions, scallops and salmon. Considering the array of appetizers, it turned out to be a blessing that this roll was very light compared to many sushi rolls. The creamy crab filling was delicious and the scallops and salmon were extremely fresh tasting. The only problem I found was that it was a bit on the small size for the price.

The Price:

Moon Ring Sake: 9.00

Demon Slayer Sake: 11.00

Edamame: 1.95 (Happy Hour Price)

Agedashi Tofu: 2.95 (Happy Hour Price)

Beef Kushi Sashi: 2.95 (Happy Hour Price)

Gyoza: 3.95 (Happy Hour Price)

Kalbi Short Ribs: 3.95 (Happy Hour Price)

Moshi Moshi 2.0 Roll: 14.00

The Verdict:

Moshi Moshi is a nice sushi place. The Happy Hour menu is incredibly inexpensive and has a great selection of good food. It’s possibly the best Happy Hour deal in Ballard. I could see us going back to Moshi Moshi for that alone.

But is it the best sushi in Ballard? … No, I still prefer Shiku. The sushi roll we had at Moshi Moshi, while good, wasn’t really worth the $14.00 they charged. If you’re going to spend that type of money on sushi, it should be fabulous not merely “good”.

Categories: Restaurants Tags: , , , ,

Shiku – 2/20/2011


Location: 5310 Ballard Ave. NW


Mon-Thurs: 4:30-10

Fri: 4:30-12

Sat: 12-12

Sun: 12-10

Happy Hour:

Mon-Fri: 4:30-4:30

Sat-Sun: 12-6

Fri-Sat: 11pm-12

We decided on sushi for Sunday’s dinner because it seemed like we had been eating a lot of bar food lately. Of the four sushi places in Ballard, we went the easy route and chose what has become our favorite, Shiku.

Shiku is sophisticated yet unassuming restaurant. On the small side with bench seating along the wall, a full bar and a small sushi bar. Other than pretty good sushi, I would say its claim to fame is a fancy, Japanese style toilet in the women’s restroom. One of those that’s a bidet and toilet in one with a heated seat. An entertaining thrill ride for a western ass.

Usually Shiku is fairly quiet but since it was the President’s Day holiday, lots of people were apparently craving sushi. The bench seating and sushi bar were full so J and I ate at the bar.

The Service:

Since we were sitting by one of the order terminals, we got fairly quick service. Everyone was polite and friendly. It did seem to take longer than usual for our sushi order to come but that was more likely due to the packed restaurant than the servers.

The Drinks:

We ordered the Hakutusuru House Sake (cold) to share. It comes in a carafe that has an ice pocket to keep the sake nice and cold. The Hakutusuru is very nice for a house sake. Smooth with a clear, fresh taste.

I also ordered a Cherry Saketini (3Olives Cherry Vodka and Hakutsuru Sake) out of curiosity since I’ve never before had a sake cocktail. Luckily the cherry vodka had a real cherry taste rather than that artificial, cough syrupy flavor that some flavored alcohols can have. Very nice, smooth end to the meal.

A note: Since this review was published J has tried Shiku’s WMD, their version of a Long Island Iced Tea. He has unequivocally declared it to be not only the best Long Island in Ballard but the best he’s ever had.

The Food:

We hadn’t eaten much, so we ordered more than usual.


Pork Gyoza which were nothing special. Crispy outside with pork centers. I found them kind of flavorless to be honest.

The Bacon Wrapped Scallops were far better. Each skewer had two bacon wrapped scallops on it with a cherry tomato separating them. Very good. The scallops were cooked over a fire just to the point of firmness with a nice char on the edges. The bacon was cooked well rather than being slightly rare as I’ve had on other such dishes.


The four Unagi (eel) Nigiri were done quite well. The rice actually held together nicely for each bite of the huge, sweet, almost bbq flavored unagi. Nice, simple and tasty.

We also ordered a couple of their specialty rolls. First was the Zig Zag Roll, spicy snow crab, soft shell crab, avocado and cream cheese wrapped in soy paper with half a fried soft shell crab on the side. This was a mouthful. I liked how the coolness of the cream cheese counteracted the hot, fried crab pieces within the roll. The crab was really good and crabby with a nice crunch. And the extra hunks of crab were a nice addition.

The other roll we got was the Ninja Roll, a simple spicy tuna roll, double wrapped, breaded in panko and lightly fried. This one was a little spicy for me but J loved it. To be honest, when eating sushi rolls I’d much rather have the wasabi sinus burn than a hot sauce. The fried panko crumbs did give an unusual texture pop though.

The Price:

Hakutsuru Cold Sake: $7.00

Cherry Saketini: $7.00

Pork Gyoza: $.6.00

Bacon Wrapped Scallops: $7.00

Unagi: $12.00 for 4 pieces

Zig Zag Roll: $12.50

Ninja Roll: $9.50

The Verdict:

Due to the freshness of the fish, the good service and the comfortable ambiance, of course we’ll go back to Shiku. It’s an unpretentious restaurant with really good food. Unless the one sushi place in Ballard (we’ve been to three of the four) that we haven’t been to completely amazes us, I fully expect to continue to make Shiku our go to place for sushi. In fact, we’ll probably try to get through the other sushi places as quickly as possible so we can return to Shiku the next time a sushi craving hits.