New “Nihonmachi” Bring Japanese Food (and Morimoto!) to Seattle and Bellevue

While Seattle’s original Nihonmachi (“Japan Town” or “Japan Street”) is, of course, in the International District, the popularity of Japanese food may be creating new “Nihonmachi” in the area.

Take, for example, 45th Street in Wallingford. Here there’s been a trio of Japanese restaurants: the ever-popular sushi joint Musashi’s, the classic-cooking Kozue, and the fairly new izakaya called Issian.

Now you can add two new places to the mix.

Yoroshiku has quietly opened in the old Joule location on 45th. Visit their website and you might think the restaurant name is 4649, but this is just a bit of Japanese wordplay. 4649 can be read as yoroshiku, roughly translated to “nice to meet you.” (Check the Wikipedia page for other examples, including my favorite: 3.14159265 (pi), which can be read “san-i-shi-i-ko-ku-ni-mu-ko” [産医師異国に向こう], meaning “an obstetrician goes to foreign country.”)

The restaurant is serving some Hokkaido specialties, as well as yakitori and other kushi (grilled food on skewers). The items are less daring than even Kushibar’s offerings, which I don’t think are interesting enough (in Japan, I’ve eaten diaphragm and uteri and other crazy parts, with an eye on a restaurant serving “oppai teats” and vocal chords), but early reports are that the quality is good.

Scheduled to open next month is Miyabi on 45th. This branch of Miyabi Sushi in Southcenter will be located in the old Rain Sushi location and will feature “Japanese Northwest” cuisine, with a special emphasis on handmade soba. At the helm will be Mutsuko Soma (pictured, above), who has been having soba pop-up meals in the past months (see my two reports), and of late has doing soba in the Southcenter restaurant. She currently has a target opening date of December 20, challenging herself to be ready for New Year’s Eve to serve the traditional toshikoshi soba.

But it’s not just Wallingford where you’ll find new Japanese food, as Bellevue is also getting into the act. It’s there that Kukai will open next month, becoming the first Japanese ramen chain to come to the Seattle area. And based on this recent job posting on Craigslist, it looks like Morimoto will be bringing his brand to Bellevue next year, which is sure to be a big deal. To all of this I say “Ganbare, Nihon-ryori” –and bring on more Nihonmachi.