You can’t talk about sushi in Seattle without mentioning Maneki. Being a sushi establishment that’s been around for over 106 years, Maneki has a deep history and even was recognized by the James Beard Foundation. The foundation honours restaurants with recognition and is often called ‘the Oscar of Food awards’. Maneki’s long, rich, history and superb Japanese food made it a prime candidate to be recognized by the foundation.
Let’s face it, if you’re doing anything for 106 years, you must be pretty damn good at it. The restaurant has a lot of firsts, among them: it’s the first sushi restaurant in Seattle. Often packed of people, reservations are highly recommended. Their ‘tatami’ rooms are popular and a treat if you manage to get a group together. The offerings at this place range from the simple like miso soup, all the way to exotic fishes from Japan, yakitori, various sashimi, and even geoduck dishes.
Maneki is located in the International District of what used to be Japan-Town. It’s almost easy to miss the restaurant if you’re not looking for it due to its simple and humble exterior.
Obviously this is a place that prides itself on mentions from local magazines and newspapers (most places do), and it’s nice to see Maneki display their many accomplishments. I found it fascinating just to browse the area to read articles written about them.
When sitting down, the surrounds and atmosphere is pretty good. Everyone is soft spoken and talking quietly and you pretty much feel obligated to do the same. I was suprised how quiet the place was despite being completely packed, even in the tatami rooms!
Avocado Ponzu Salad
I thought this dish was rather good. Upon first glance it might seem quite simple, but the ponzu sauce is what makes this dish. The tang of the sauce is pretty much tamed by the creaminess of the avocado. It was a decent sized portion and I would get it again!
Ahh, Uni sushi. Another delicacy that isn’t served too often at too many places. I suspect it has something to do with its price and keeping it fresh. Good, fresh, high grade Uni can be hard to find, and it’s rather expensive as well. At Maneki, the Uni sushi was good. Creamy and not fishy, firm and not mushy. I’d definitely give this a try if you’re a fan of Uni sushi.
Spicy Tuna Roll
Your standard spicy tuna roll, nothing crazy. The green onion is a nice touch. I noticed green onion is a recurring theme at Maneki, most dishes seem to have a lot of it (not that I’m complaining).
Red Tuna Nigiri
This nigiri was spot on. Fat distribution was even and rice density was great. Nice little garnish with the pea sprouts, seems to be another common theme at Maneki.
Nasu Dengkaku (Grilled Eggplant)
Super thin slices and overly salty. Wasn’t too much of a fan. The same dish at Toshi Sushi is far better.
Kaki Mayo (Grilled Oysters)
Another so-so dish. A bit too fatty and the oysters didn’t taste up to par. A tad too salty and the mayo sauce just simply dominated the dish. I wouldn’t recommend this dish.
Overall:An institution in Seattle, serving classic Japanese food and loved by many. I'd probably recommend to stick to nigiri sushi and classic rolls, and to get a tatami room if you're with a group!
Service: 4 (really attentive and excellent)
*Our scoring system is out of 5. With 5 being the highest score.