I accept the existence of strip malls with a certain je ne sais quoi attitude mostly because I avoid them like the plague. Double that sentiment when these commercial stretches of dysentery are peppered with anemic eating establishments for the weary shopper & family-friendly barganzas ala Olive Garden or "Red Lob-stah" (as pronounced in my native east coast tongue...)
So while Tukwila has Bahama Breeze for those of you that crave Calypso Shrimp Linguine after power-shopping at Nordstrom's, I have a useful tip for south-end foodies who don't want to head back downtown for sushi after work--Miyabi's can hit the spot, albeit on a good night. The prices have apparently gone up & the decor has changed since a change of ownership (this I deduced after reading one gripe from one Japanese blogger), but the new design of dark wood with appetite-inducing warm colors & soft lighting enticed me to return on a drizzly night in May... I'm all about great hole-in-the-wall finds, but when the weather is crappy & so is my mood, a little creature comfort in a dining experience goes a long way.
After watching Anthony Bourdain's adventures in Japan, I'm hoping to find a izakaya to make takoyaki on the spot here in the Seattle surrounding area, as it would doubly increase the joy of deep-fried octopus doughnut deliciousness to form & fry these savory sea biscuits yourself. Until then, Miyabi delivers a tender fritter--chewy, salty & sauced, with a tempura levity that almost leaves you less guilty for ordering fried food.
With thoughtful decor & decent prices at a relatively close proximity to Skyway, Miyabi might be the best Japanese option for us South-enders, but it's no Kisaku. Comparisons aside, my first visit left me pleasantly surprised & sated--a second dining experience had me seething with a short staff & such uneven service that I felt we could have left without paying & no one would have noticed. That's baaaad. Now I know why paid reviewers go back for at least a couple of visits before making judgments.
Okay, so I get bugged out when Citysearch reviewers pan a restaurant based solely on a hostess. Have pity on the kitchen, which has nothing to do with the quality of the food, & that I do say comes from marrying a chef.
The Blazing Godzilla Roll ($10.99) is piled high with eel & fiery sauce deserving of its name--a gigantic brother to the spicy tuna roll with glistening sauce & red roe. A little gloppy for the purist, but I quite enjoyed the heat factor & ordered it on both visits.
The Geisha wrap ($5.50)is Godzilla's yin partner, a baked crab salad, blanched asparagus & flying fish roe rolled in soybean paper ($5.50). Subtle & refreshing, this was the perfect emblem of Spring on a misty evening, but admittedly, doesn't hold a candle to Kisaku's delectable house roll which invites fresh crab & scallops into the fold. Oh, I wish we could afford to live near Greenlake, but then again I get sent to Spain to taste wine. Pobracita! I'll take my job over sitting behind a desk all day even if it does mean retail wages.
The creamy scallop roll ($5.50) was a petite mix of raw scallop & mayo with some julienned cuke. Again, a really clean palate cleanser to balance out its spicier counterpart. The description included flying fish roe but I'd need a magnifying glass or a time machine to see if that was true. Doesn't look like it, but all the better for Ken since he detests little beads of fish eggs popping in his mouth--this may be one of the rare situations where he is a more finicky diner than I!
As for the spider roll ($8.75), c'mon it's hard to go wrong with tempura battered soft shell crab. On our last visit I complained that it was perhaps less crisp than I would have liked, but Ken noted that while it might have cooled upon delivery it was toasty when delivered to our table. For that I blame the Godzilla roll because I went straight for the saucy broiled eel...
Would I go back on a Tuesday? Surely. Would I choose this place to relax & take a break from the kitchen on a Friday night? With great hesitation. A recent rise in my blood pressure has caused me to think twice about soy sauce or dining in places that stress me out. The Japanese are some of the healthiest people in the world, but the Greeks are at the top. What would it take to get some decent souvlaki or gyros in Renton? I'm waiting for you entrepreneurs to make your next move--the southie's want you!