A very much in-progress look at Momiji [Photo: Eater Seattle]
Over at the former Dawson Plumbing Co. building, work continues on Momiji, the Kyoto inspired Japanese restaurant planned for the site. Earlier this year, Steven Han, Momiji's owner, paid $1.5 million for the prize address, situated on the eastern border of the Pike/Pine corridor. The roof tiles are in place, and the Japanese maple has been planted in the rear courtyard, a former parking lot converted into a small garden and glass-walled dining area. Han's goal of opening Momiji in early October appears firm.
When neighborhood denizens walk past the building, says Han, they will see "a typical Capitol Hill bar" in front. Once they wander through a long wood-paneled hallway (a layout familiar to patrons of Umi Sake House, another Han eatery), they will encounter Han's take on a fine dining Kyoto restaurant.
Once upon a time, Han graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in industrial design. His instructor, Craig Yamamoto recalls Han as one of his best design students. For Momiji, Han engaged Yamamoto, his former teacher to hand-craft 25 tables. Yamamato's facility with maple ("Momiji" is Japanese for maple) will be showcased at the sushi bar, the host desk, and a cabinet to store sound equipment.
Han explains that the fine dining, kaiseki-inspired option will represent a small portion of the overall menu, at least initially. A sushi bar and other Umi menu elements will predominate. A DJ will pipe music to both the 25-seat bar in front and the 110-seat restaurant at back.
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