Maneki is Seattle’s oldest Japanese restaurant at over 100 years old. Hard to believe a restaurant could be that old huh? The restaurant is typical for a lot of Japanese restaurants in my experience, small with limited seats. This place goes so far as to deny anybody without reservations a chance to dine. The first thing you will be greeted with when you walk in is not a “hello” or “how are you doing,” but “Do you have reservations?” Dumpling Man was not so lucky last time since he did not know about their strict “reservations only policy. He insisted we try this place on this visit. It’s reputation simply preceeds itself.
I was suspicious about how good this restaurant could be. It serves everything Japanese from sushi, teriyaki, udon, and small plates izakaya style. I can’t remember the last time I went to a restaurant with a gigantic menu and no focus on a specific specialty cuisine that was outstanding. Most people agree that when a restaurant spreads itself to thin, the food suffers. The best restaurants usually have small menus and focus on making a few things really really good. The prime example is In N Out, damn I wish I could have one right now.
Potato Dengaku miso glazed, roasted
I usually prefer nasu dengaku which is the eggplant version of this dish, but Dumpling Man does not like eggplant. It was a last minute choice that I really regret. I’m not sure if they don’t do dengaku well or the potato was the wrong choice. The potato was just too starchy and the glaze was too sweet. The dish fell really flat.
Broiled Miso Black Cod Collar
Oh man, this was the best part of the meal! I think I’ve had fish collar before, but this was the most impressive preparation of it that I can remember. Apparently the collar of the fish is a prized cut, similar to fish cheek. While I’ve never understood the delicacy of fish cheek, I can really sing the praises of fish collar. The fish was really meaty, juicy, and fatty in the best way possible. Each bite was like a taste of fish heaven. It was oozing flavor I never knew fish could have. From now on, I’m gonna order fish collar wherever possible. Droool….
This is another favorite of mine that I order wherever I go. It was nothing special here.
Spicy Tuna Roll
Another staple of mine. This was probably one of the worst interpretations I’ve had. A bad spicy tuna roll is usually overly creamy with too much mayo. On occasion the tuna tastes funny. This was the first spicy tuna roll that was unappetizingly sweet. I’m not sure what they used as the spice but it had a healthy helping of sugar. It was just gross.
Big Mouth Roll sweetened fish flakes, spinach, crab stick, kampyo, cooked prawn, fresh water eel, egg omelet, takuwan
I don’t know what I was thinking when I ordered this. I guess I was overwhelmed by the laundry list of components that I thought it was going to be the Mac Daddy of rolls and taste amazing. It just tasted like they put a whole buncha random shit and rolled it up with some rice. It was NOT good. I don’t know which was worse, this or the spicy tuna roll.
Nigiri albacore, yellowtail, salmon
Ok, I will admit this was pretty darn good. Each piece had that great fatty fish taste. Winner!
Maneki has a large menu and we tried ordering a good sampling of dishes to be our own judges. We were extremely disappointed. For starters, I’m beginning to think it is very hard to find a good sushi place on Yelp. People’s opinions about sushi is just so subjective. I’ve been to MANY places where Yelpers say the sushi was “as good as it was in Japan” or “how they know good sushi because they lived in Japan” or “brought a genuine Japanese friend who gave it the seal of approval” and in the end it really disappoints. The sushi at Maneki was just average, except the blue fin. The rolls were BAD. Everything else was whatevers except the black cod collar. For that, and that alone, you may be able to convince me to come back.
So ends my Seattle eating tour! Although we left on a slightly disappointing note, we left very full and very happy. I can’t wait to come back, hopefully with less rain and more sunshine.
304 6th Avenue South
Seattle, WA 98104-2714