Sushi Mashiko almost didn’t happen for me. When I called to make a reservation, I – as usually is the courtesy – told the restaurant that I would be ordering the omakase. The response? “Have you eaten with us before sir? Because if not, we recommend trying out the medium level omakase”. Immediately two thoughts went through my mind:
1) I guess The Sushi Legend isn’t as popular as I thought
2) What in the world is on the main omakase menu?
Though it actually took some convincing, I ended up booking the main omakase. But upon showing up to Mashiko, it became pretty apparent why the warning exists; the menu is about as far from traditional as you can get, as are the sushi chefs – and those chefs freely admit both.
The concept of the food is sustainably sourced fish from the region; that alone makes Mashiko different from other high-end sushi restaurants from across the country. While the others might charge a significant amount for traditional omakase featuring nigiri, Mashiko prepares dishes that are borne out of the tapas style. I lost a bit of the thread, but if I had less than 10 appetizer size plates, I would be surprised.
Witness for instance the kumamoto oysters to the right, the uni tofu above or the octopus below – sure it’s not traditional sushi, but they don’t pretend to be. The sushi chef was more than obliged to tell me that people from New York are often shocked (read: upset) to get the omakase at find it to not be strictly 20 pieces of Nigiri. I smiled politely, despite the fact that I freely was expecting only nigiri when I made the reservation. There was nigiri at the end, and it was delicious – but this is an omakase that all types of foodies can enjoy.
The Atmosphere is fun and inviting – but would you expect anything less from a restaurant with a web address of “www.sushiwhore.com”? I went on a Wednesday night at 9:15, and to it’s credit, the restaurant was still packed. The servers and staff were helpful, although be forewarned – I found the sushi chefs to be overly committed, so you might find – as I did – that your meal takes a bit longer than planned. That said, the beverage menu (alcoholic and other) is substantial, so the wait isn’t too onerous.
I found Seattle to be unique and well worth visiting, which is much the same I would say for Mashiko. It’s a truly different sushi experience, one that I haven’t had yet in my travels anywhere else. It’s certainly the best that Seattle has to offer (or was, as of 2014).