Nishino RestaurantNishino

3130 East Madison Street

Reviewed: 6 February 2007

Nishino is many different things. It is bright and shiny, but a calm and relaxing at the same time. It serves sophisticated, grown up food, but there were many tables with children enjoying a family meal. It serves as a sushi bar, where one can find old favorites, and as a experimental restaurant where one can always be surprised.

The chef trained with Nobu Matsuhisa, who still has an excellent restaurant in Los Angeles. Both restaurants are high powered but homey, and both are more than just Japanese sushi joints. Nishino is a bit less flashy, which is not surprising in Seattle, which is a less flashy town than Los Angeles. This means less golly-gee-whiz, but the cooking at Nishino is full of pleasant surprises.

We ordered the omakase dinner, which meant we were served eight courses chosen by the chef, and a number of these courses included a variety of items, so it is impossible to enumerate all of them. For us, the high points included the seared black cod served with crisp lotus chips, the fresh Alaskan king crab leg, the baby amberjack sashimi, the avocado wrapped crab roll, and the sable with pickled lotus and other Japanese vegetables. There were no low points. Everything was fresh and perfectly prepared, from the toro to the miguro, from the shrimp with caviar to the salmon wrapped in egg strips. Even the dessert, mochi ice cream and fresh fruit, was smartly flavored and nicely assembled.

We haven't tried the regular menu, and having tried the chef's special menu, it is not clear that we will. Why waste time trying to outguess the chef? We'll recommend Nishino for that special meal, or for a traditional round of sushi.

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