You laugh, but I was to the extent of hunger that I experienced what my dad says are "hunger sweats". Me and my sister would make fun of him and scoff when he said that (along with his, "I'm so HUNGRY! Look! My hand is shaking!"). Well S, I can no longer laugh at him. I literally got so hungry I was breaking out in sweat.
It was nearly nine o'clock on a rainy, windy Seattle night when me and mom checked into our hotel in the University district of Seattle. Luckily, I had looked up a couple of restaurants in our area that I had wanted to try. The thing was though, everyone knows that "university town" food is virtually tasteless, but bountiful.
Would Issian prove me right?
First of all, it seems that the Izakaya bug has *just* hit Seattle. Apart from Issian, the only other Izakaya that I could find was downtown (Wanns). From the Izakayas in Vancouver, I expect this genre to have a certain feel - low lighting, explosive energy, and dark cozy seating. Issian did not have any of that. The lighting was quite bright (and almost annoying, since I was having hunger pangs and pretty tired from spending an entire day in the car with mom. :p), and although the staff chorused greetings, there was no repeating of orders from waiter to kitchen staff, even though the entire kitchen was open and literally in the dining area. It was almost like a quiet dessert shop rather than what I expect from an Izakaya with its light wooden chairs, shelves lined with hundreds of sake bottles, and quiet patrons.
We chose to sit at the bar and while we were perusing the menu, the girl behind the counter gave us a complimentary appy - a refreshing duo of cold salads: picked soybean sprouts, and gomaae. I will interject here...I was so tired that when she lifted the dish on a long-handled pizza spit, I looked up from my menu and all I saw was a "floating platter"...it almost startled me to the point of tears. haha! Yes...hunger makes people in my family do strange things.
The waiter / owner was really friendly and courteous. He made a couple recommendations and offered us hot towels.
In reality, I was actually looking for some noodles / rice / comfort food. Unfortunately, Issian does not carry any of these items, and I had to settle for spider roll. It sufficed, but I was still a little cranky!
We also ordered a small sake to share, some gyoza (that came with a spicy horseradish), some kalbi beef cooked on hot stone, and potato croquettes.
The potato croquette was premade, and the cook did not cook it long enough. I looked up to see my mother with a confused look on her face asking, "is this supposed to be cold?"
The faux pas was replaced with a fresh, hot croquette and an apology. It was also removed from the bill, which was great (unlike that other place - YES I remember, and NO I don't want to go back).
In addition, we also ordered some fried smelt (very good! But expensive!) and some chicken livers, which came with a salty dry dip. Maybe chicken livers aren't my thing, but I had to try them. They were moist and tender, and went well with the dip. I just didn't like the texture!
For $40 plus tips, me and mom had our first meal in Seattle. Was it worth it? It was a little on the expensive side considering one item was removed from the bill, the exchange rate and the price of some of the individual dishes. I believe $40 x 1.2 = $48 would have me stuffed at Guu / Gastown location...and what I really wanted was some comfort food. What we got was more snack-like / drinking food.
It did seem like a nice little neighbourhood to have a food journey on. Dick's Drive in was down the street, along with a hand-made donut shop, and an ice creamery just next door. I *would* go back to Issian Izakaya on the merits of their friendly, accomodating staff, but I just wouldn't make it the "meal stop" of the culinary tour.
1618 N 45th St [map]
Seattle, WA 98103