By Beth Hartwick
Nijo Sushi Bar & Grill
83 Spring St.
Seattle, WA 98104
Reservations: Open Table or call 206-340-8880
I love food — growing it, cooking it, and eating it. I also love to eat out (who doesn't, right?), and I want to share my favorite Seattle restaurant experiences with your family. Let me take you to neighborhood haunts, hidden gems, overlooked favorites, and new territories. I’ll let you know if a restaurant will be right for treating the whole family, gathering with friends, or spending time with that special someone. First up: Nijo Sushi Bar & Grill — a place for great Japanese food even if you don’t eat sushi!
A visit to Nijo feels like a trip off the beaten path. Though Nijo’s address is on Spring St., you'll head instead to Post Alley and enter through the restaurant's bamboo-screened courtyard. Watch your step!
Nijo calls itself and is a sushi bar. While I enjoy sushi, it is not something I crave and I certainly don't pretend to be a sushi expert. For the Japanese foods I do crave — crisp vegetable tempura, yakisoba with grilled shrimp, fish broiled in a sweet and salty sauce — Nijo is where I head.
Nijo is a great destination dining experience for adventurous eating teens, a group of friends, or a couple out on the town— the atmosphere invites both casual or fancy dress, and I have always found the space comfortable. When full, the restaurant will buzz with sound, but you can still have a conversation — how novel for Seattle! The wait staff is courteous, never rushes you, and will make great suggestions on what to order, tailored to your tastes, preferences, and willingness to embrace a culinary escapade.
To eat or not to eat...
If you don’t want to eat raw fish (though in my experience, Nijo's nigiri never fails to please) or seafood, Nijo still offers plenty of options for meat-eaters and vegetarians alike. The only dishes I would caution you to avoid are the bland cold cha soba noodle salad and the Post Alley roll, which sounded delightful but the tempura coating should have been cooked longer.
I do recommend: the delicate Carpaccio of white king salmon, broiled Alaskan black cod, grilled beef wraps, vegetable tempura, rich avocado-fu eggrolls, delicious miso soup with tofu, the grilled albacore salad, and yakisoba with grilled shrimp or beef. For maki (rolls), try the spicy tuna DFR roll (spicy tuna, cucumber, and cilantro topped with avocado and albacore), garlic ponzu and yuzu tobiko, and the flavorful and entertaining Flaming Fire, which is a spicy tuna roll wrapped with albacore and tuna that is topped with two spicy sauces and then anointed with Bacardi 151 rum and flamed at the table! Dinner and a show!
I have heard the Nijo bartenders create a mean cocktail, and the restaurant also offers an extensive sake list, wine, and beer. The lunch bento box is a great value at $12. Happy hour, which happens daily from 4-7 p.m., presents a great opportunity to sample a range of the menu’s offerings and signature cocktails.
Try Nijo and see if it becomes one of your favorite downtown restaurants for a bite before an event at Benaroya Hall or a multi-dish dinner of great Japanese food after a trip to the Market or on your way to or from the ferry terminal.
Lunch: small plates, soup, and salads, $2-$15; rice and noodle dishes, $10-$19; bento box, $12
Dinner: small plates, soup and salads, $2-$17; rice and noodle dishes, $12-$19; large plates, $18-$32
Sushi menu: maki $6-$14; Nigiri $3-$7; sashimi assortment $25-$40; omakase $60
Street parking, metered until 8:00 pm Mon-Sat; pay parking garages within a few blocks