Thursday, September 6, 2007

Happy Teriyaki Sushi - Seattle WA

Getting bored with the menu items at my hotel and having returned the rental car. I found myself wandering hotel row next to the airport in Seattle. Around this area you do have a few fine choices such as the much touted 13 coins restaurant. But tonight I craved Asian cuisine. I missed the spices and textures of really good Asian cooking. Didn't really matter to me if it was Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean or Japanese. I was jonesing and needed a fix. As I strolled down hotel row I spotted a sign that advertised the Happy Hut Teriyaki Sushi. Japanese restaurant. It was in a rather odd place called the Jet Motel. a rather run down looking establishment that had a lot of American made trucks of various sizes and colors in the parking lot and most of them had Nascar number 8 stickers on them. I had already walked at least 3/4 of a mile or more from my hotel and it was going to be dark soon, So I decided to fake like I was chewing tobacco and stroll on in. Happy Teryiaki Sushi was the actual name of the restaurant, I guess they never thought anyone would notice the different names, or maybe just surmised that the clientele at the Jet Motel just wouldn't be able to put two and two together here. I would have bet on the later myself. Just outside of the place is the proverbial wall of photo's of the plates served here. Really nice looking stuff I might add.

The place is located in the middle of the Motel and is definitely an island unto itself. Like walking into another world. I love to stroll off the beaten path and try places that no one would go into on a bet. This place was different that is for sure. As I scanned over the mugshots of food outside the door I just couldn't help but think that I believe I saw just about every character from the film Deliverance walk by and think that classic line from the film while looking at me, I won't repeat it here. but you know the one. Poor Ned Beatty.
Opening the door to the restaurant was like Dorothy opening the door of her just fallen from the sky house and opening it into startling Technicolor. The place was spotless and beautiful. Decorated like a place that shouldn't be here in this establishment. There was just one other couple eating and they were Asian. Good sign. I was greeted by a very lovely young Japanese woman with eyes that seemed to say. "Please, when you go. Take me with you". Like being in a void with zombies all around you or some odd place from the Twilight Zone. I half expected to see Rod Serling sitting at the Sushi counter smoking a cigarette and telling me that I had just crossed over into the Twilight Zone. I wondered if I could ever leave.

I sat Italian style with my back to a wall and the front door in full view. She handed me a menu and asked if I wanted a drink. "Sapporo, long, cold and tall please" was my response. I read through the menu. Mostly familiar stuff and some really nice choices. She returned with my cold Sapporo and I started to order from the Happy Sushi side of the menu, where they had quite an extensive menu. But it didn't take me long to find out that the clientele had quickly gringoized it.

" I will have the Toro" No have, she said. Ok, Ikura, Nope, Hamachi? Nope, Ika? Masago? Uni? No, No and No. The only things that they had available were the dreaded Big Macs of the Sushi world. California rolls and the like. Now I felt her pain and understood the look in her eyes. She knew that I understood that if she stayed here any longer she would be forced to either get a Dale Earnhardt tattoo or forced to start wearing khaki Bermuda shorts, black socks and Jesus sandals with a World Wrestling T-shirt. But wait! Unagi!, They had Unagi. Ok, I love Eel and quickly ordered a batch up. But first out came the obligatory bowl of Miso soup. The Japanese equivalent to a good Kosher Matzo or chicken soup. It looked wonderful and had a heady and yeasty aroma to it. A bit more pizazz in this soup than I am used to. It worked very nice. I was served a lovely little ice cold shrimp on a bed of cabbage with a spritz of rice wine vinegar on it as well.
A great starter. Next came the Unagi ($3.95) and an order of Maguro ($3.50) It looked wonderful and artsy. One of the reasons why I love Japanese cuisine, just beautiful edible pieces of art. I nodded approvingly to the Sushi chef. An older gentleman of at least 70 years old.
The Eel was nicely smoked and had just enough Teriyaki on it as not to overpower and the Maguro was surprisingly very fresh and creamy.
Then came out a side salad containing what I was told to be a Japanese Ranch Dressing? And indeed it did taste like Ranch Dressing but with maybe some Miso mixed in it? I asked the girl and all she could tell me was that some guy comes in and makes it. What guy? she didn't know. Oh well. it was very good. a sort of creamy miso ranch mayonnaise concoction. it worked for me.
Next up is an all time favorite of mine. A Japanese curry. The Japanese are the masters of taking that spicing curry mixture and tempering it out to make a light and dreamy curry all their own. I ordered the Chicken Curry ($6.59) This dish satiated my hunger for Asian food it was a great balance of hot and mild. The veggies were not overcooked and had a nice firm bite to them and as with the chicken had been simmered in the curry for just the right amount of time. Solid gold this dish was.
With my meal finished and the sun slowly going down outside. I paid my bill and left. Leaving behind the doe eyed waitress and lowly sushi chef to continue on plying their trade to an audience that would rather watch cars turn left for 8 hours straight than appreciate the valiant culinary fight that this place brings to the table everyday. Looking back now I wondered if this place was there at all or did I really trespass over into to Twilight Zone? After all I had just been to Portland and had a few brownies at the street fair?
Happy Teriyaki Sushi
Open 10:30 to 9:00pm


Anonymous said...

I have never had any problems with the selection not being available here, it's always been a diamond in the rough for Sushi in SeaTac.

Michael said...

Thanks for the comment. I am in the area a lot and will go back to this place. I agree that this is a little diamond in the rough. Great place to go.

Anonymous said...

Food was excellent--fresh & tasty--with good portion size. Good menu selection. Service was pleasant and fast. Five in our party with each person ordering a different menu item--everyone was totally pleased. Restaurant was clean and attractive. Excellent value! Most items, including complete meals, under $10!! Located in an older small hotel, but don't be fooled. This gem is hidden inside. Parking lot (free) right in front with ample spaces. Would have gone back for lunch the next day but had to leave early.

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