Part of a series of restaurant recommendations offered in The Stranger’s 2017 Guide to Food and Drink (International Edition).
Tucked away upstairs on King Street next door to its better-known sister, Fort St. George, this small International District izakaya (Japanese style gastropub) has daily specials, a drink menu that encompasses various Japanese beers, sake, and shochu, and a rather great, not super expensive menu that touches on the expected (ramen, udon and soba soups, tempura, bento box combos) as well as left-field dishes. The butter breaded chicken with Kewpie mayo is delicious, and it's worth waiting for the genton, a pork cutlet that's stuffed with cheese, breaded, and deep fried into a ball of sheer goodness spilling out its gooey melted insides with the first perfect cut. LEILANI POLK
With just three tables and a simple menu, this Phinney Ridge Japanese restaurant turns understatement into art. While the udon soup makes for a lovely lunch and the sushi is fresh and serviceable (particularly lovely when eaten on the tables of the hidden back patio—which, both covered and heated, is lovely year-round), what lifts this from neighborhood cafe to citywide destination are the pastries. Japanese pastry chef Setsuko Tanaka turns out an assortment of delectables (purple sweet potato cheesecake, green tea chocolate mochi, fresh cream puffs) every day, each one a masterpiece, both visually and in flavor. NAOMI TOMKY
This Vancouver import is located on Capitol Hill and specializes in Japanese drinking food and the booze to go with it. The bulk of its dishes are small, pretty, and easily shared. Pressed sushi rolls, fried soft-shell crab, and the Instagram-ready uni shooters are favorites, as well as the glorious, glutinous ma po rice cakes, which come anointed with sansho-flecked ground pork. More substantial meals can be had in the massive short ribs or the Hellz ramen in rich oxtail broth. Cocktails feature hits of yuzu, shiso, and house-made ginger puree, and the sake list boasts several affordable options. JENN CAMPBELL
Shiro Kashiba is the patron saint of Seattle sushi, and Sushi Kashiba is his latest restaurant. This dude is on some Jiro Dreams of Sushi shit. Newcomers should try the tasting menus, and experienced à la carte orderers should go for the sautéed geoduck and the crispy rex sole (the fried fish bone is meant to be enjoyed—it's not just there for garnish). You can go three different routes as far as dining options at the Pike Place restaurant go: the sushi counter for a true omakase experience, tables for a romantic date or bigger group, and the cocktail bar for that secret chill zone—it's laid-back, the full menu is offered, and you're close to the booze. TOBIAS COUGHLIN-BOGUE
Kotaro Kumita's Ravenna-area sushi bar, serving the best sushi in the city, seems destined to linger in the shadows. It opened at the same time as the venerated—and much more publicized—Sushi Kashiba and sits in the literal shadow of the many-award-winning Salare. Yet the simple, traditional Edomae-style sushi Kumita serves deserves all the praise of both those places—and more. During the omakase—chef's tasting menu—at the bar, Kumita plays taste buds like a symphony, warming them up with local geoduck, dazzling them with lightly smoked, kelp-wrapped, or salt-kissed versions of familiar fish, then finishing them with dessert-worthy sea urchin. NAOMI TOMKY
This restaurant is, quite literally, one of Seattle's hidden gems. It's just down the hill from the ID's historic Panama Hotel Tea House, which is worth a visit on its own, but even given that clue, there's no sign, no website (although Google can help), and you probably won't find it without being brought there once. It is like a modern-day version of Robin Hood's hideout, albeit one that serves excellent sushi, tempura, chirashi, and a lunch combo that features a mini katsudon and a mini tanaki udon. Happy hunting! TOBIAS COUGHLIN-BOGUE