Thursday, December 8, 2011

Japonessa: Sushi Cocina

My wife and a small group of family and friends decided to visit the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) for the first Thursday (free Thursday) and then visit neighboring Japonessa for dinner. We heard they had a pretty liberal happy hour and were excited to give a new, highly regarded sushi joint a shot.

First, let me provide the happy hour hours for Japonessa. All day up until 6:30 pm in the restaurant, and 8 pm at the sushi bar. It starts again at 10 pm throughout the restaurant.

Now, we understood the happy hour was after 8 pm, and set a reservation for 8:30 pm. Miss. Their menu (link) does not feature any "traditional" sushi rolls, California, Alaska, etc etc. They'll make any of those for you if you ask, but with so many specials, why not give them a shot. We ordered all house specials:

Salmon sampler (white king, red king, Atlantic king and sockeye)
-Perfect Gentleman (spicy tuna, cucumber, avocado, yamagobo, kaiware, sprouts, cilantro, topped with 7 spice seared albacore, chili garlic soy, scallions, and jalapeno)
-Orange Crush
-Tango de Mango
-California Crush
-Street Fighter ii
-The Mediterranean
-Paraiso Tropical
-Spicy Redhead

So, the wait staff actually forgot to bring the hotate sushi. That's another miss, this time on Japonessa's account. Second, the wait staff seemed to buzz all around, but they didn't seem too interested in explaining things or making recommendations outside the most expensive rolls on the menu. So service, C+.  (Sidebar- this place is quite popular and I'd recommend a reservation.)

The fusion aspect of this joint, after all it's Japonessa: Sushi Cocina, wasn't present... compared to, for example, SushiSamba (where I've eaten in Chicago, IL). So let's throw out the fusion aspect and just talk sushi. It was good, even very good. The ingredients were tasty, the combinations were imaginative, and the neta (innards)-rice ratio was generous, as was the size of the specialty rolls. But they were pricey.  We thought the Paraiso Tropical and Tarantula were standouts, as was the Street Fighter ii and Perfect Gentelman (very close to the same thing).  The white king salmon was the absolute best of the sampler.

My main complaint was the sushi rice, which fell apart routinely.  It not only did not "add" to the greatness, but it significantly detracted.  My suspicion is that not only was it not made with the right consistency to stand up to the various sauces and innards, but it may have been prepped substantially earlier than its use - making it a little "bleh" and a bit "dried out."

Overall, it was a pleasant experience, but not Seattle's best and a bit overrated and pricey.  The specials were good, ingredients fresh, but with the so-so service, and rice, it stands a head above the average sushi places in town but not among the titans.  We'll be back, but for happy hour...

1400 1st Avenue
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 971-7979
3.5 stars


  1. What... they forgot to bring something out. I'm angry. I think we should mention that next month and make them bring one out on the house. I like reading the review because I was actually there this time. My opinion was about the same.


  2. You will be pleased to know that I ate sushi last night and very much enjoyed it. It was good and safe shrimp sushi.