Shiro Kishiba plans a new sushi restaurant in Bellevue

More than 50 years After giving Seattle our first sushi restaurant, Shiro Koshiba plans a new restaurant.

The name isn’t official yet, but Seattle sushi legend has identified a venue in Bellevue that will become a showcase for Chef John Takai. Kishiba recruited the man most people simply call “Chef Jun” from Tokyo over a decade ago. (That was a successful recruiting trip; the other intern he brought in was Daisuke Nakazawa.) Chef Jun led the team at Shiro in Belltown when she left the namesake company for a retirement that proved short-lived. He then built a following as the chef at I Love Sushi in Bellevue.

The upcoming restaurant will occupy a location on the ground floor of Apartment One88 on Bellevue Road. About half the size of a sushi kashba, the Pike Place market destination in Shiro-san opened in 2015. The sushi counter will feature 10 seats and the same spirit as omakase and edomae-style sushi.

This is no accident. At 80, Shiro Kashiba is thinking about legacy, even though he still works most nights behind his sushi counter. Its goal: to raise the bar for the next generation of chefs who have not only completed the rigorous training inherent in this kitchen, but have also met Shiro’s level standards in their profession. His family is involved with Chef John in this project; Kushiba’s son, Ed, will oversee operations at the new restaurant, and Shiro-san himself will continue to direct and appear occasionally. The restaurant should serve its first omakase in June, although like any other aspect of life at the moment, this is subject to change.

Part of the legendary chef’s comeback from retirement seven years ago has been a desire to ensure that Idoma-style sushi, with its simple local and seasonal traditions, can thrive alongside a (delicious) parade of tempura rolls dipped in sauce and covered in sauce. Help implant sushi into the American mainstream. He brought this approach with him from Tokyo in 1966, a young sushi chef looking to bring this kitchen to Seattle. Soon after his arrival, Kushiba re-calibrated that local and seasonal ethos to match his new surroundings. His appreciation for our local geoduk has transformed it from underappreciated rod oysters to hearty sushi dishes. This is just one of the fingerprints he has left on sushi culture in Seattle and beyond: This week the chef was awarded a Minister’s Award by the Japanese government. It is a recognition for “outstanding achievements in advancing Japanese cuisine abroad”, and is one of five people worldwide to receive this honor.

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