Monday, January 28, 2008

maneki: a not-so-secret japanese treasure

{click to enlarge}

maneki is one of my two favorite japanese restaurants in seattle (the other being mashiko's in west seattle). if you want traditional japanese fare served in a space rich with wwii, japanese-american history, maneki is the place for you. the interior is softly lit with paper lanterns and faux rice paper fixtures and adorned with japanese artwork. there are two tatami rooms for special occassions, but you must call in (206.622.2631) early and leave a message to reserve one. i love eating here because first and foremost, the food is awesome, but also because it feels so old school. from the well-worn carpet to the beer served in tiny glasses to the old ladies who serve as maitre d's, maneki is a restaurant that reminds me of my grandparents.

there are the usual suspects for beverages. we went with green tea, a sapporo, and a sho-chu which i can't remember the name of. the taste was distinct, though....reminiscent of wet bamboo and mildew, but not really in a bad way (if that's possible).

next came the vegetable tempura. i love tempura. who doesn't? i like that maneki serves each vegetable in pairs so we didn't have to argue over who got the kabocha and who got the onion. their veg tempura consisted of mushrooms, carrots, kabocha (squash), onion, shiso leaves, eggplant, and zucchini. hot, simple, crisp, delicious. why don't more bars serve tempura during happy hour? i think it's the perfect bar food..??

next up: tuna bata-yaki. i panicked when we ordered because i wanted to make sure we had enough food (we did), and went with this dish. it's pieces of tuna sauteed in butter with mushrooms and japanese red pepper. the spice was nice, but overall, this dish was nothing special. i wouldn't order it again, but that's mostly because there are so many more amazing things on the menu.

ah, suge's favorite! the miso-braised black cod collar is pretty amazing. the collar is one of the fattiest parts of a fish, and keep in mind that black cod is a really oily fish to begin with! the flavor of the miso combined with the crispy skin is a revelation. if you order this dish, be prepared to get messy. you have to dismantle the collar with your fingers because it's so slippery, and you don't want to miss out on any hidden pieces of meat. trust me, it's worth it.

oh-emm-gee, the salmon namban was my favorite dish of the night. namban is a style of dish that's done with really any type of fish you want. maneki serves both tuna and salmon versions. the fish is lightly battered, quick-fried, cooled, then served with a lemon-laced, clear mirin dressing, paper-thin slices of lemon, and sweet onion whiskers. the dish is light, slightly sweet, and ice cold. it was the perfect counterpoint to the sizzling, in-your-face savory miso cod collar.

suge's favorite dish of the night capped off our meal: a spider roll. he spent the entire dinner thinking about the end piece of the roll which has nearly half of a fried soft-shell crab sticking out of it. the roll was great. crisp. savory. sweet. spicy. perfect end to an outstanding meal at maneki.

304 6th Ave S
Seattle, WA 98104-2714
Phone: (206) 622-2631

NB: maneki is NOT open on mondays and is only open for dinner service from 5:30 to 10:00. they do not take reservations, but if you have a party of 6 or more, they will accomodate you if you call in early and leave a message.

Maneki Restaurant in Seattle


Suge White said...

Super good. Super cheap.

there can be a bit of a wait but the last 3-4 times we've gone we've been seated pretty quick.

White Pepper said...

Co-sign that black cod collar =DAMN!

I am also a huge fan of the spider roll who doesnt like crab!?!?

L. still needs to hit Maneki one of these days....lets do this.

Great post. Im hungry. said...

we should all go. i don't think rico's ever been. and japanese food is insanely gluten-free friendly :)

Anonymous said...

Update: Maneki's now takes reservations (2011)-- and reservations are really essential here, even for 5:30 pm. The staff will accommodate drop ins when possible, but really -- call ahead and leave a message.