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A plate of salmon with vegetables and green puree artfully displayed on a plate at Adana
Tasting menus at Adana in Capitol Hill are customizable; pictured here is beef with shiso puree.
Adana/Instagram

Top Japanese Restaurants in Seattle That Go Beyond Sushi and Ramen

Where to expand your culinary horizons with kaiseki, chirashi, and katsu

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Tasting menus at Adana in Capitol Hill are customizable; pictured here is beef with shiso puree.
| Adana/Instagram

For many, the only images that come to mind when they picture Japanese food are sushi and ramen, and Seattle has its fair share of both. This map, on the other hand, is a resource for the best of the rest, including non-ramen noodle spots making udon or soba from scratch, izakayas, Japanese bakeries and sweet shops, and other restaurants shining a light on various fantastic facets of Japanese fare.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Tokara

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6208 Phinney Ave N, Seattle
WA, 98103
(206) 784-0226
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Diners should pay special attention if they want to sample the Japanese confections known as wagashi from Phinney Ridge’s tiny Tokara. Due to limited supply, the safest move is to call ahead to order and arrange a time to collect desired treats such as sakuramochi, made with pink mochi, filled with red bean paste, and wrapped in a salted, pickled cherry leaf — typically available during cherry blossom season. In Kyoto fashion, diners should enjoy them with tea.

2. Modern

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6108 Phinney Ave N
Seattle, WA 98103
(206) 420-4088
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Yes, patrons can get savory selections like Japanese curry, udon, and sushi here, but the bigger and better draw are the desserts from Setsuko Pastry. They’re sweet, but not too sweet. Favorites include green tea roll cake (sponge cake wrapped around azuki bean paste and fresh cream), strawberry shortcake, purple sweet potato cheesecake, and mochi brownies.

The desserts at Modern, such as smiley chiffon cupcakes, are from nearby Setsuko Pastry.
Modern/Instagram

3. Udon

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4515 University Way NE, Seattle
WA, 98105
(206) 453-3788
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Diners at this U District hot spot grab a tray and slide along the line, cafeteria-style, to place a noodle order. The next step is to choose some deep-fried delights a la carte, like the excellent tempura chikuwa, a fishcake in the shape of a tube. With two locations (the other is on Capitol Hill), this mini-chain is the first in Seattle to serve udon made on-site, with the cold preparations showing off the chewiness of the firm, al dente noodles best; diners can even watch them being made while they wait to order.

4. Issian Stone Grill

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1618 N 45th St
Seattle, WA 98103
(206) 632-7010
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This izakaya in Wallingford is a perfect place for a group to enjoy drinks and share small plates. Dishes include stone-grilled enoki mushrooms, grilled mackerel, grilled tuna collar, a variety of yakitori, fried chicken cartilage, kushikatsu (fried tonkatsu on a stick), and even French fries with wasabi mayonnaise. And, per Japanese custom, to fill the stomach at the end of the meal, diners should order delicious miso-glazed grilled onigiri (rice balls).

5. Fremont Bowl

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4258 Fremont Ave N Ste #4262
Seattle, WA 98103
(206) 504-3095
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The “bowl” in the name of this Fremont favorite refers to the restaurant’s many donburi (rice bowl) dishes, including tonkatsu (pork), short ribs, and sukiyaki. But the main draw is the reasonably priced chirashi-don, which features a generous portion of tuna, yellowtail, albacore, salmon, eel, shrimp, fatty tuna scrapings, and flying fish roe. Bonus: This sibling to South Lake Union restaurant I Love Sushi makes soy sauce on-site and uses real wasabi (instead of the fake stuff at most sushi spots).

Fremont Bowl specializes in donburi and chirashi-don.
Jay Friedman for Eater

6. Kamonegi

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1054 N 39th St
Seattle, WA 98103
(206) 632-0185
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Kamonegi’s signature dish is Buckwheat soba noodles made from scratch. Preparations run from basic (zaru: cold noodles with dipping sauce) to complex (Kamonegi’s namesake dish: soba with duck, leek, and a duck meatball). The Fremont restaurant also puts the spotlight on tempura, which pairs perfectly with soba. The classic tensoba combination of soba with shrimp tempura is a winner, as are Japanese vegetable options like satsuma yam tempura with buckwheat honey and gorgonzola.

Kamonegi makes soba noodles and tempura into an art form.
Bill Addison/Eater

7. Wa'z

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411 Cedar St
Seattle, WA 98121
(206) 441-7119
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One of Seattle’s only dedicated kaiseki restaurants, located in the shadow of the Space Needle, makes food almost too beautiful to eat. The premium kaiseki option takes diners on a journey that includes small bites, soup, sashimi, a braised dish, a grilled dish, a rice dish, and dessert. In keeping with kaiseki’s emphasis on seasonality, the menu changes monthly, and customers covet the counter seats, where the chef can tell diners the story of each dish, from ingredients to preparation to gorgeous plating.

Wa’z has a rotating menu that includes small bites, soup, and a braised dish.
Suzi Pratt for Eater

8. Suika Seattle

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611 Pine St
Seattle, WA 98122
(206) 747-9595
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Suika, a standout in the Vancouver izakaya scene, ventured south to Seattle in 2014. Diners should start with an uni shooter and some battera (pressed sushi), then fill out their meal with the likes of unagi bibimbap, served in a hot stone bowl, while enjoying sake, beer, or one of the restaurant’s creative cocktails — perhaps one made from the namesake suika (watermelon). If this Capitol Hill spot is too crowded, sibling restaurant Tamari Bar is a good backup just a block away.

Suika specializes in izakaya, including this aburi side pork dish.
Jay Friedman/Eater

9. Adana

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1449 E Pine St
Seattle, WA 98122
(206) 294-5230
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Capitol Hill’s Adana is the place for artful and seasonal Japanese fare. In the dining room, three-course, five-course, and seven-course menus change monthly (white asparagus and halibut with tofu pea pure in the spring, for instance), with choices enabling diners to customize their own tasting menus. In the lounge area, bar bites such as a variety of katsu sandwiches complement a creative cocktail program, offering diners a more casual experience.

Adana brings artful presentation to its seasonal dishes, such as white asparagus with egg yolk and rhubarb gelee.

10. Karaage Setsuna

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2421 2nd Ave, Seattle
WA, 98121
(206) 448-3595
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Setsuna was once a beloved Japanese izakaya near Northgate. After a short absence, it reemerged as Karaage Setsuna in Belltown, with a smaller venue and menu. Food sometimes skews Hawaiian with poke, loco moco, and a saimin-like soup, but the item to prioritize is the namesake karaage, available in three portion sizes. Made from boneless chicken thigh (dark meat, as it should be), this version of fried chicken may forever replace American-style in diners’ hearts.

11. Katsu Burger

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1410 12th Ave
Seattle, WA
(206) 941-5317
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Now with five locations (two on the Eastside and three in Seattle, including a fancier Ballard restaurant with the addition of sushi), Katsu Burger serves a slew of panko-breaded, deep-fried meats for its burgers. While beef, chicken, and even tofu are options, pork is classic for katsu, fantastic with mayo and tonkatsu sauce along with the standard toppings of cabbage, tomato, red onions, and pickles. Add nori fries and a green tea milkshake to round out a fast-food fusion meal that’s made to order.

12. Tsukushinbo

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515 S Main St, Seattle
WA, 98104
(206) 467-4004

This unmarked, easy-to-miss place in the historic Nihonmachi part of the International District is reminiscent of restaurants in Japan. There’s a wrap-around sushi bar with eight seats, along with a small scattering of tables. The blackboard lists items like the “Ika Special” (squid simmered in its own guts) and other plates that pair well with sake and beer. Tsukushinbo also offers its popular shoyu ramen, a carb-heavy meal that includes gyoza and rice, as part of its Saturday brunch service.

13. Maneki

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304 6th Ave S, Seattle
WA, 98104
(206) 622-2631
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Maneki has been a mainstay in the International District for more than 100 years, and shows no sign of slowing down. If it’s crowded, diners may start with a seat in the spirited bar area. They’ll find a sushi counter in the back, and tatami rooms for small group gatherings. The menu is comprehensive, with Japanese classics from agedashi tofu to takoyaki and soba to sushi.

14. Fuji Bakery

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526 S King St
Seattle, WA 98104
(206) 623-4050
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Fuji Bakery, with locations in Interbay, Bellevue, and the International District, is an East-meets-West enterprise, combining ingredients and techniques from Japan and France to create wonders like the yuzu bacon epi. Many people visit Fuji for its savory breads and pastries, such as kare-pan (curry bun) and brioche saumon (salmon brioche). Others prefer the sweets, like anpan, green tea Danish, year-round panettone, and best-selling crunchy cream doughnut.

15. Sandwich House TRES

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1502 145th Pl SE
Bellevue, WA 98007
(425) 643-7333
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Sandwich House TRES in Bellevue focuses primarily on doing one thing and doing it right: beloved crustless sandwiches made with soft and spongy white bread. (Crouton alert: Customers can help themselves to crusts from the “free” bin.) This sparse spot with just two tables does bustling to-go business, offering an extensive sandwich menu featuring four “zones”: meat, seafood, vegetable, and fruit. It’ll take two sandwiches to fill most diners; make one a pork cutlet.

1. Tokara

6208 Phinney Ave N, Seattle, WA, 98103

Diners should pay special attention if they want to sample the Japanese confections known as wagashi from Phinney Ridge’s tiny Tokara. Due to limited supply, the safest move is to call ahead to order and arrange a time to collect desired treats such as sakuramochi, made with pink mochi, filled with red bean paste, and wrapped in a salted, pickled cherry leaf — typically available during cherry blossom season. In Kyoto fashion, diners should enjoy them with tea.

6208 Phinney Ave N, Seattle
WA, 98103

2. Modern

6108 Phinney Ave N, Seattle, WA 98103
The desserts at Modern, such as smiley chiffon cupcakes, are from nearby Setsuko Pastry.
Modern/Instagram

Yes, patrons can get savory selections like Japanese curry, udon, and sushi here, but the bigger and better draw are the desserts from Setsuko Pastry. They’re sweet, but not too sweet. Favorites include green tea roll cake (sponge cake wrapped around azuki bean paste and fresh cream), strawberry shortcake, purple sweet potato cheesecake, and mochi brownies.

6108 Phinney Ave N
Seattle, WA 98103

3. Udon

4515 University Way NE, Seattle, WA, 98105

Diners at this U District hot spot grab a tray and slide along the line, cafeteria-style, to place a noodle order. The next step is to choose some deep-fried delights a la carte, like the excellent tempura chikuwa, a fishcake in the shape of a tube. With two locations (the other is on Capitol Hill), this mini-chain is the first in Seattle to serve udon made on-site, with the cold preparations showing off the chewiness of the firm, al dente noodles best; diners can even watch them being made while they wait to order.

4515 University Way NE, Seattle
WA, 98105

4. Issian Stone Grill

1618 N 45th St, Seattle, WA 98103

This izakaya in Wallingford is a perfect place for a group to enjoy drinks and share small plates. Dishes include stone-grilled enoki mushrooms, grilled mackerel, grilled tuna collar, a variety of yakitori, fried chicken cartilage, kushikatsu (fried tonkatsu on a stick), and even French fries with wasabi mayonnaise. And, per Japanese custom, to fill the stomach at the end of the meal, diners should order delicious miso-glazed grilled onigiri (rice balls).

1618 N 45th St
Seattle, WA 98103

5. Fremont Bowl

4258 Fremont Ave N Ste #4262, Seattle, WA 98103
Fremont Bowl specializes in donburi and chirashi-don.
Jay Friedman for Eater

The “bowl” in the name of this Fremont favorite refers to the restaurant’s many donburi (rice bowl) dishes, including tonkatsu (pork), short ribs, and sukiyaki. But the main draw is the reasonably priced chirashi-don, which features a generous portion of tuna, yellowtail, albacore, salmon, eel, shrimp, fatty tuna scrapings, and flying fish roe. Bonus: This sibling to South Lake Union restaurant I Love Sushi makes soy sauce on-site and uses real wasabi (instead of the fake stuff at most sushi spots).

4258 Fremont Ave N Ste #4262
Seattle, WA 98103

6. Kamonegi

1054 N 39th St, Seattle, WA 98103
Kamonegi makes soba noodles and tempura into an art form.
Bill Addison/Eater

Kamonegi’s signature dish is Buckwheat soba noodles made from scratch. Preparations run from basic (zaru: cold noodles with dipping sauce) to complex (Kamonegi’s namesake dish: soba with duck, leek, and a duck meatball). The Fremont restaurant also puts the spotlight on tempura, which pairs perfectly with soba. The classic tensoba combination of soba with shrimp tempura is a winner, as are Japanese vegetable options like satsuma yam tempura with buckwheat honey and gorgonzola.

1054 N 39th St
Seattle, WA 98103

7. Wa'z

411 Cedar St, Seattle, WA 98121
Wa’z has a rotating menu that includes small bites, soup, and a braised dish.
Suzi Pratt for Eater

One of Seattle’s only dedicated kaiseki restaurants, located in the shadow of the Space Needle, makes food almost too beautiful to eat. The premium kaiseki option takes diners on a journey that includes small bites, soup, sashimi, a braised dish, a grilled dish, a rice dish, and dessert. In keeping with kaiseki’s emphasis on seasonality, the menu changes monthly, and customers covet the counter seats, where the chef can tell diners the story of each dish, from ingredients to preparation to gorgeous plating.

411 Cedar St
Seattle, WA 98121

8. Suika Seattle

611 Pine St, Seattle, WA 98122
Suika specializes in izakaya, including this aburi side pork dish.
Jay Friedman/Eater

Suika, a standout in the Vancouver izakaya scene, ventured south to Seattle in 2014. Diners should start with an uni shooter and some battera (pressed sushi), then fill out their meal with the likes of unagi bibimbap, served in a hot stone bowl, while enjoying sake, beer, or one of the restaurant’s creative cocktails — perhaps one made from the namesake suika (watermelon). If this Capitol Hill spot is too crowded, sibling restaurant Tamari Bar is a good backup just a block away.

611 Pine St
Seattle, WA 98122

9. Adana

1449 E Pine St, Seattle, WA 98122
Adana brings artful presentation to its seasonal dishes, such as white asparagus with egg yolk and rhubarb gelee.

Capitol Hill’s Adana is the place for artful and seasonal Japanese fare. In the dining room, three-course, five-course, and seven-course menus change monthly (white asparagus and halibut with tofu pea pure in the spring, for instance), with choices enabling diners to customize their own tasting menus. In the lounge area, bar bites such as a variety of katsu sandwiches complement a creative cocktail program, offering diners a more casual experience.

1449 E Pine St
Seattle, WA 98122

10. Karaage Setsuna

2421 2nd Ave, Seattle, WA, 98121

Setsuna was once a beloved Japanese izakaya near Northgate. After a short absence, it reemerged as Karaage Setsuna in Belltown, with a smaller venue and menu. Food sometimes skews Hawaiian with poke, loco moco, and a saimin-like soup, but the item to prioritize is the namesake karaage, available in three portion sizes. Made from boneless chicken thigh (dark meat, as it should be), this version of fried chicken may forever replace American-style in diners’ hearts.

2421 2nd Ave, Seattle
WA, 98121

11. Katsu Burger

1410 12th Ave, Seattle, WA

Now with five locations (two on the Eastside and three in Seattle, including a fancier Ballard restaurant with the addition of sushi), Katsu Burger serves a slew of panko-breaded, deep-fried meats for its burgers. While beef, chicken, and even tofu are options, pork is classic for katsu, fantastic with mayo and tonkatsu sauce along with the standard toppings of cabbage, tomato, red onions, and pickles. Add nori fries and a green tea milkshake to round out a fast-food fusion meal that’s made to order.

1410 12th Ave
Seattle, WA

12. Tsukushinbo

515 S Main St, Seattle, WA, 98104

This unmarked, easy-to-miss place in the historic Nihonmachi part of the International District is reminiscent of restaurants in Japan. There’s a wrap-around sushi bar with eight seats, along with a small scattering of tables. The blackboard lists items like the “Ika Special” (squid simmered in its own guts) and other plates that pair well with sake and beer. Tsukushinbo also offers its popular shoyu ramen, a carb-heavy meal that includes gyoza and rice, as part of its Saturday brunch service.

515 S Main St, Seattle
WA, 98104

13. Maneki

304 6th Ave S, Seattle, WA, 98104

Maneki has been a mainstay in the International District for more than 100 years, and shows no sign of slowing down. If it’s crowded, diners may start with a seat in the spirited bar area. They’ll find a sushi counter in the back, and tatami rooms for small group gatherings. The menu is comprehensive, with Japanese classics from agedashi tofu to takoyaki and soba to sushi.

304 6th Ave S, Seattle
WA, 98104

14. Fuji Bakery

526 S King St, Seattle, WA 98104

Fuji Bakery, with locations in Interbay, Bellevue, and the International District, is an East-meets-West enterprise, combining ingredients and techniques from Japan and France to create wonders like the yuzu bacon epi. Many people visit Fuji for its savory breads and pastries, such as kare-pan (curry bun) and brioche saumon (salmon brioche). Others prefer the sweets, like anpan, green tea Danish, year-round panettone, and best-selling crunchy cream doughnut.

526 S King St
Seattle, WA 98104

15. Sandwich House TRES

1502 145th Pl SE, Bellevue, WA 98007

Sandwich House TRES in Bellevue focuses primarily on doing one thing and doing it right: beloved crustless sandwiches made with soft and spongy white bread. (Crouton alert: Customers can help themselves to crusts from the “free” bin.) This sparse spot with just two tables does bustling to-go business, offering an extensive sandwich menu featuring four “zones”: meat, seafood, vegetable, and fruit. It’ll take two sandwiches to fill most diners; make one a pork cutlet.

1502 145th Pl SE
Bellevue, WA 98007

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