Japonessa Sushi Cocina
I am Japanese American. Sometimes it feels awkward to say this, because my family is so much more American and so far from traditional Japanese, or even Japanese American, if you catch my drift. My parents, and grandparents were born in the US. No one in my family speaks, writes or reads Japanese. Most of us have never even stepped foot in Japan. However, the one thing most of us enjoy, is Japanese cuisine. (Uhh.. I can barely use chopsticks...)
I heard about Japonessa, and knew that it was a Japanese and Latin fusion, and thought the perfect person to take here would be my Mom. She is a timid sushi eater, she only really enjoys Maguro, she won't eat any sushi that she thinks is "weird". I thought it was going to be similar to Peruvian foods, which are heavily influenced by Japanese cuisine as well.
Japonessa is in the location downtown on 1st and Union where the restaurant, Union, used to be. I liked Union, but didn't love it, so I wasn't too surprised to see it had closed.
When we arrived it was Happy Hour throughout the restaurant. It seems that you'd be hard pressed to not find Happy Hour pricing at this place. Happy Hour is everyday 11:30am - 6:30pm, 6:30pm - 8:00pm in the bar only, and 10:00pm - 1:00am Thursday - Saturday.
We weren't really sure how much food to order, so we just decided to order a bunch of stuff, whatever sounded good to try. We each started with a cup of Miso Soup.
Miso Soup $1 (HH Price)
This was pretty traditional Miso Soup. Scallions, seaweed, tofu and slices of shiitake mushrooms. It was good - not too salty, and just the right amount to warm our tummies on a cold day! Shortly after we finished our soups, the Sashimi Salad arrived.
Sashimi Salad $9
This salad was the highlight of the meal! Fresh maguro, tako, shrimp, and yellowtail with spring greens and Takuan (japanese pickled radish), as well as pickled carrots and a creamy soy dressing. The salad is larger than it appears in the photos, but it was amazing. I could eat this salad every day! As we were oohing and ahhing over the salad, the next dish arrived.
Garlic Short Ribs $5 (HH Price)
Very good short ribs - Not too sweet, not too salty. A little hard to eat with the metal chopsticks, but we made it work. The toro chips were a great addition to this popular Korean dish!
California Crunch Roll $4.50 (HH Price)
Meh. I ddin't love these. I don't really care for the glob of mayo based sauce and the additional teriyaki like sauce - the tempura batter made them seem soggy, and they were kind of gross. I ate one and didn't really want another. This was not really worth the deep fried calories!
Eggplant & Mochi $6
When most people hear Mochi, they probably think of the popular Mochi Ice Cream. This my friends is a totally different kind of Mochi. This Mochi is made from glutinous rice that has been steamed and pounded and kneaded. The Mochi in Mochi Ice Cream is made with rice flour and sugar. One of the Japanese traditions my family does take part in, is annual Mochi making. Now we don't do it the traditional way. We make it with modern technology, and use a machine to make the Mochi. It's still a lot of work, but not like the traditional pounding and kneading method. Forget that. If a machine is going to do the kneading for us, we're taking the short cut.
I have rarely seen this kind of Mochi in a restaurant - so we were surprised and delighted to see it on the menu at Japonessa! The Mochi was lightly toasted and served with eggplant and tempura Nameko mushrooms and topped with grated Daikon. Dashi broth was served on the side for dipping. If you have never tried Mochi, give it a try - its extra chewy and very sticky, with a crunchy crust once it's been toasted. It was the 2nd fabulous dish of our meal!
I look forward to returning to Japonessa in the near future, hopefully my non-seafood eating SO will find something he enjoys here, and I am sure my Mom will be happy to go anytime!
Japonessa Sushi Cocina
1400 1st Ave S
Seattle, WA 98101
Lunch Weekdays: 11:30am - 2:30pm, Weekends: noon - 2:30pm
Dinner Sun-Thurs: 2:30pm - 11:00pm, Fri & Sat: 2:30pm - 1:00am
Happy Hour: Open - 6:30pm, 6:30pm - 8:00pm (Bar Only)
Late night Happy Hour: 10:00pm - Close