304 6th Avenue South
Reviewed: 14 February 2009
Maneki has been around for over a hundred years now, but we Kalebergs have only known about it for a few months. Go figure. Then again, we haven't done much exploring in the International District. This is partly because it sounds so generic. "International" could mean anything, Turkish, Atlantic Rim, Yap Islander, or even international airport cuisine. Maybe that last thought scared us. We recently dined at Maneki with a well informed friend, and we could immediately understand how Maneki has managed to survive for over a hundred years, and is likely to survive for another hundred.
Maneki is an old fashioned, almost traditional, Japanese restaurant serving good old fashioned, well prepared Japanese food. This isn't Benihana with its flash and dash and home cooked Japanese meals prepared fresh in your mouth by chefs with sharp knives sort of place. Instead there is wonderful fresh seafood, raw as sushi or sashimi, and cooked. One of our favorite dishes was a miso soup of oysters and spinach. It was Oysters Rockefeller in Japanese soup form. Another treat was the spider fried soft shell crabs, an Asian take on a classic from the American South. The broiled sardines, with their roe, were exquisite, with the full flavor of the sardines on display. The carrot and burdock root salad, an unexpected combination, was wonderful.
We tried at least a half a dozen of their sushis, including such classics as sea urchin, flounder, sea bass and ahi tuna. All were perfectly prepared and presented, and always the highest grade of seafood. We were in heaven. We kept ordering. We had the steamed monkfish liver, the pickled salmon salad and the sassy spicy salmon roll. Seattle is a great seafood town, and Maneki makes the most of it.
The room was traditional, with western style tables, and a number of special tatami rooms for banquets. We'll have to have one some day. The waitresses were warm and professional. We felt right at home as we made our way across their extensive menu. Mind you, we haven't tried everything. We didn't even come close. Every dish we did try was delicious, and we are eager to try more. A return trip is in our cards.