April 14, 2008

Shiro Loves Sushi (and Golf)

Shiro.JPGAnother gray, blustery Sunday; it felt like Seattle was going through a rinse cycle. Undaunted, Shiro Kashiba was out on the golf course, playing 36 holes before dark, then stopping for a bite of dinner in Belltown at (where else?) Shiro's, where he's been sushi master since he opened the place in 1994.

Shiro doesn't have to eat at Shiro's; he wants to. He loves sushi, and loves feeding people. After all, he's been doing this for 42 years now. There's a myth that sushi is "easy" because there's no cooking, just slicing. That sushi has to modernize. Wrong, wrong, wrong. The future of sushi, according to Shiro, is nothing less than traditional Edomae, nigiri (raw fish on rice) sushi.

As the dozen or so diners at his counter know, Shiro-san believes Americans use too much wasabi and soy sauce; he puts just the right amount of wasabi on each piece of nigiri before serving it. "The best way is simple," he says. And those dozen or so diners have the best meal in town.

But Shiro no longer owns Shiro's. He sold all but a minority interest last year to a Japanese investor and to Yoshi Yokoyama, of Bellevue's I Love Sushi. He's still behind the counter three nights a week, but the restaurant is now part of the I Love Sushi Group. The new investors recognize that Americans eat bigger portions and want to fill up on rolls ($20 for a roll, a bowl of miso soup, tax & tip) but they don't think fusion is the frontier. (The eclectic Mashiko, in West Seattle, with a website called SushiWhore --with a freaking sushi-bar webcam--would be like the Third Circle of Hell.) For now, the I Love Sushi people intend to keep the Shiro brand, as a beacon of orthodoxy in an increasingly sushi-fied town.

Shiro's, 2401 Second Avenue, 206-443-9844 Shiro's on Urbanspoon

Posted by Ronald Holden at April 14, 2008 11:17 AM | TrackBack

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