Tuesday, June 2, 2009

MASHIKO in West Seattle

The bottom line is, you have to be a lover of garlic to concur with my recommendations. For at Mashiko, it is also garlic sauce galore.

Located in West Seattle, Mashiko is what I would call a sushi bar with a sense of humor. It is also small and busy, which translates into crowded. When you first walk in, you are greeted by a sign that says “Please wait to be seated (unless you’re illiterate).” On a weeknight, if you don’t have reservations, expect to wait 40 to 50 minutes for a seat while you are penned in by a booth on one side and an ample aquarium on the other; you will be waiting, standing up, along with many others who keep piling in through the entrance, and soon you will assume a defeated-looking, hunched-over stance, occasionally glancing hopefully past the fish tank to see if it’s finally your turn. Overhead, a skylight is more than likely to show the pitter-patter of the city’s infamous rain.

Printed on the menu is a funny list of rules to be followed: Chopsticks are not drumsticks; Tip well…live long; After you eat, eat more; Soy sauce is not a beverage.

The first thing that caught my eye on the specials board was Geoduck sushi. I am as appalled as I am intrigued whenever I stumble across a baffling food word that is completely foreign to me (aren’t I supposed to be an expert, especially in the sushi arena?). I thought it was duck sushi at first; I was more confounded than ever when I learned from the waiter that it was actually clam.

Geoduck, pronouced gooey duck, is a large saltwater clam native to the Pacific Northwest, thereby explaining why I had never heard of it in the nether Southwestern region. Oh, what treasures we uncover when we travel! This is like the time I discovered Arctic Char Roe in Iceland, but I digress…

Kibinago sushi didn’t sound familiar when I ordered it with the Geoduck, but when it appeared, I vaguely recognized the small silver-striped fish from the herring family. I had tried it before at the celebrity-haunted Koi in Los Angeles and disliked it; it was rare and pretty-sounding but too fishy and metallic-tasting. The simple Geoduck, which tasted like regular clam to me, thankfully balanced out the outright exoticness of the other choice.

Both the Spyder and the Creamy Scallop rolls possessed only a mild garlic mayonnaise, but the Temptation Island roll—one of the most popular items—was slathered in a garlic sauce that has to be tasted to be believed. What’s more, the Temptation Island featured nothing but crunchy tempura onions on the inside, with albacore slices as its roof, so the double-punch of garlic and onions really makes an impact. A dish like this would probably be constructed inversely at most other restaurants, with fried onions thrown on top of an albacore-encased roll; this way, however, is far more efficient—the squiggly onions are snugly and tightly wrapped inside, while the sliceable fish sit neatly on top, not so likely to slide off.

Visit Mashiko of Seattle at http://www.sushiwhore.com/. (Now why didn’t I use that domain name?)

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