When I first learned that Steve Han (owner of Umi Sake House) had plans to open up a new sushi restaurant on Capitol Hill just blocks away from my school, I was PUMPED. Umi Sake House is considered one of the best sushi restaurants in the Seattle area along with my personal favorite Wasabi Bistro. Together, those two dominate the sushi scene, but it isn’t always easy for college students to make their way down to Belltown. I try to avoid it if I can. The people down there have “the eyes” – seriously everyone lurks. I’m not just talking about the people you assume lurk, but it’s also the people that go clubbing down there too. Anyways, to put it simply – it’s a trip and a pretty inconvenient one at that. It made sense for Han to open up Momiji on 12th though because its only competitors are Chao Bistro, Octo Sushi and Genki Sushi. Let’s be real though – those are not serious competitors. Sorry.
With Momiji taking over the old Dawson Plumbing, the space was soon to be transformed into a beautiful space reminiscent of Umi Sake House’s atmosphere. The 100-seater restaurant is one of the largest (if not the largest) restaurants in Capitol Hill and surrounds a beautifully designed landscape with strong Japanese accents. You have to see it in real life. A restaurant on this scale will need double of everything to make sure it keeps running. Using such things as commercial refrigeration companies, large food delivery services, air-conditioning throughout, etc. will help the restaurant thrive in its climate.
The restaurant had their opening on a Wednesday a few weeks back and unfortunately, I couldn’t make the actual opening day. My four friends and I tried that following Thursday after opening day and found ourselves in an hour and a half wait so we retreated to Skillet Diner instead, which was still a great choice to us – no disappointment there. Kevin and I went exactly one week after the opening and surprisingly it wasn’t all that crowded anymore. We probably didn’t even need to make a reservation, but since I was concerned about getting shut out again, I made one to be safe. Kevin and I ordered two rolls – one that we knew we would like and one that was a little outside of our comfort zone along with pieces of our favorite sashimi and gyoza for him – miso soup for me. Sadly, they were all out of the black cod, one of our favorite items on the menu. As expected, we loved the roll we knew we would enjoy and struggled bussed a little bit with the second roll. While we had some trouble adjusting to the taste of the second roll, we decided that it had nothing to do with how it was prepared or created. We didn’t enjoy the taste, but we’re sure that other people probably would – it just wasn’t for us. I was talking to a member of staff and they were lovely, we talked about the process of getting the place set up. She told me that they had so much to organize and were glad they found great quotes for their businesses energy bills. It allowed them to open when they did, they got their quote from a price comparison website similar too Usave.
Two days later, I found myself at the restaurant once again – this time for Happy Hour with two of my girlfriends. I ordered the Seattle Crunch Roll something – which is your standard salmon, cream cheese, avocado dipped in tempura batter. They serve this at nearly every sushi restaurant in Seattle, but Wasabi Bistro was the first to actually create it. In addition to my roll, I ordered a sampling of nigiri featuring my favorites: eel, salmon, tuna, albacore and yellowtail. This was the first time that I was ever able to find a sampling that included everything I wanted at a decent price. Overall, I was pleased with their happy hour. The menu was extensive. The portions were the perfect amount and I didn’t break my wallet. Would I eat at Momiji again? Of course I would it’s like a foot away from me!