I’ve heard every standard Seattle pleasantry and curiosity there is in my time living away from the Emerald City. Guess what? They’re all true. Yes, it rains a lot. Yes, we have incredible coffee – a joint and some coffee isn’t called a Seattle Speedball for nothing. Yes, we are the home of the Space Needle, and, no, it’s not there for any practical purpose. Would you believe me when I say that there’s a whole class of men in their fifties and sixties that are still hung up on the Grunge scene? What I want to know is why no one ever talks about our unique blend of cultures that dominate the eating scene up there.
Finding great Asian food in Seattle is like finding water when you fall off of a boat. We’ve got great teriyaki (a Seattle invention) and pho joints on almost every corner, which are always a good idea on a rainy day. Dim Sum restaurants are always open past the bars, especially in the International District. The ID is one of my favorite places in the city for nightlife. It’s inundated with places for late-night-bites, places to drink, karaoke spots, and right next to SODO where a lot of great clubs are located.
My favorite haunt from the last few times I visited is Itsumono. Located on Jackson St. near King St. Station, this family-run gastropub puts care into their menu of mostly Hawaiian and Okinawan-inspired food and handcrafted cocktails.
Entering through the hole-in-wall exterior you’re immediately transported to Okinawa, to a place with a wood-forward interior and Japanese art. Itsumono itself means regular, a nod to the regular customers who keep coming back. Wanting to have a fresher take on Japanese than just sushi and ramen, Itsumono takes care to create fresh ideas in Japanese-American cuisine with a weekly-rotating menu that keeps that people coming back, as you never know what dish is going to become your favorite every week.
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I think the best way for me to describe Itsumono is community-driven craftsmanship. Everything that they serve, down to the vibe, is indicative of people who care about providing their community with a place to enjoy food and drink of the highest quality.
While the menu is rotating, so I can’t reliably give any specific recommendations (but don’t worry, you really can’t miss), I can help a little bit with cocktail tips. There are plenty of iterations of my go-to classic cocktail, the old fashioned, but Itsomono’s Smoked Old Fashioned is an interesting and modern twist on an all-time favorite. My favorite Itsumono specialty is the Ume-king Me Blush, an original by my dear friend and bartender, Kevin. Or, if you don’t know what to get, just ask the bartender to invent one for you on the spot, I guarantee they won’t let you down.