It’s officially Autumn in Seattle. Dark foreboding clouds, visible breath in the mornings, me forgetting to bring a jacket… Definitely Autumn. We’re enjoying the couple weeks we have left before November sets in and the rain really starts. I actually don’t mind the cool weather as long as it’s dry.
Last year, B and I did a much better job than in years past of actually getting out when the weather isn’t so nice. Our tendency (and the tendency of most Seattleites based on the lack of life on the streets) is to hunker down at home. It’s funny that we’ve finally started to overcome this behavior now that we live in a condo we love. For our first two Winters, we hated our apartment, but couldn’t talk ourselves into going out into the rain consistently. That made for some long seasons.
It’s rarely cold enough here to justify staying in all the time. It’s usually just sort of annoying to be out in the damp chill. It isn’t freezing. Hopefully we’ll maintain the momentum we started last year and just brave it. It makes for a much nicer season.
I’d been on somewhat of a sushi quest for a couple of weeks. B’s been on an anti-sushi kick. This wasn’t quite the combination I was hoping for. Due mostly to my own bad timing in seeking out a sushi buddy (I kept thinking of it last minute), I’d failed miserably in my quest. Finally, last week, on such a chilly Fall evening, I had plans with my friend, KL, for sushi at Shiro’s Sushi.
I’d wanted to try Shiro’s much longer than this most recent craving. Shiro’s is widely known in the area for having some of the best sushi in town. Having read a few online reviews, I also gathered that only the most lucky would manage to be there on a night when Shiro himself was behind the sushi bar.
I don’t consider myself a particularly lucky person. It’s not that I’m unlucky. Bad things don’t have a habit of happening to me. I’m just not someone who happens to arrive at just the right moment to have something particularly special happen. On my inaugural Shiro’s visit, though, I was the luckiest person in the restaurant (at least). I arrived just a couple minutes ahead of KL to two sushi bar seats right in front Shiro himself.
Eating sushi with someone you’ve never shared it with before can be a bit of a delicate situation. It’s become such a mainstream food (and I was quite late to the party having only eaten it for about 10 years now), but most people think of the deep fried, mayo-heavy style that’s so popular now. Make no mistake about it, I love a good decadent, delicious sushi roll, but I also have a taste for the slightly more traditional.
I was happy that KL seemed up to the challenge. We both ordered Omakase (chef’s choice). Basically, Shiro starts feeding you and keeps feeding you until you say stop… but there’s no telling what will show up next. When we let Shiro know our choice, he playfully confirmed, “My choice? No complaining?” We assured him there would be no complaining.
As a side note, I didn’t photograph everything we ate (yes, these are my portions only and yes, we ate even more than this). Given that we didn’t order any of it, I only have a vague description of some of it. This isn’t for lack of a wonderful explanation from Shiro on each and every piece. I just don’t remember and was more invested in enjoying the meal than taking notes. That said, first up was a tuna salad… an excellent tuna salad at that. I was a little concerned off the bat because it was a pretty good sized portion. Never fear, I finished the tuna salad with room to spare.
One of the great aspects of the experience is that Shiro didn’t expect you to know what anything was or what to do with it. He’d tell you what it was and what he’d added. It often came with directions… most often, “no soy sauce.”
This mushroom soup (made from locally foraged mushrooms) was amazing. It also had shrimp. We both finished it without a problem.
In addition to the no soy sauce needed, there was also no extra wasabi needed. Shiro loves his wasabi and he puts it right between the rice and the fish. The wasabi may have been a bit on the heavy side for KL, and I got a pretty good bite a couple times, but once I knew what to expect, I came to like it.
Shiro is seriously one of the warmest people I’ve ever met. I was tempted to ask him if he’d adopt me as a surrogate granddaughter. I felt happier just being around him. He clearly has command of the restaurant (though you can’t really understand what’s happening if you don’t speak Japanese) and his smile just lights up the room. I can see why people wait a couple of hours for seats at the bar.
As we neared the end of our meal, Shiro placed before us two pieces, one crab, one (I think) scallop. As was becoming the standard, he instructed us not to use soy sauce. On the second piece (I’m really not sure scallop is right), he told us he’d added sea salt and we shouldn’t use soy sauce because it would keep us from really being able to taste the flavor, to taste the ocean. After our first bite, KL looked at me and proclaimed, “It tastes… like the sea.” Never was there a more accurate taste description. That’s exactly what it tasted like.
At this point, he sensed we were slowing down (or just realized how much we’d eaten) and checked in to see how we were. We let him know we were about at the end. That’s when he declared there was only one thing left to do… Sushi Dessert!
It wasn’t really dessert, but it was made up to look like an ice cream cone and it was decadent… and delicious. KL didn’t make it all the way through hers and, I admit, I was a bit slow going through mine, but I persevered. It was worth it.
I’m not a dining alone type of person. I’ve often wished I was, but it’s just a little outside my comfort zone. Perhaps my biggest praise for Shiro’s is that, for the first time ever, I’ve discovered a place I could go, sit (at the bar, of course), be happy and well-fed, all on my own. Of course, I’d never turn down good company for the experience, but this sushi is just that craveable.