Now open: Yoroshiku

Yoroshiku

Yoroshiku, the new Japanese restaurant in the old Joule space (1913 N. 45th St.) is now open, and Wallingford resident Ann Ishimaru went there on Sunday night and wrote to tell us all about it.

Full disclosure, the owners of Yoroshiku are Ann’s downstairs neighbors. But Ann gets major street cred for being a 4th generation Japanese American whose been to Japan several times; Plus, her daughter is in the Japanese language program at John Stanford International, and she’s eaten A LOT of Japanese food. “I’m also a little food-obsessed,” she proclaims, but “the food is a refreshing welcome to the scene and really speaks for itself.”

So without further ado, I’ll let Ann tell you the rest in her words. Take it away, Ann:

First, the name – it’s a play on words: 4649, if said in Japanese, is yo(n) ro(ku) shi(chi) ku . . . Yoroshiku is a commonly said as part of a meeting – “dozo yoroshiku” or “yoroshiku onegaishimasu” meaning roughly, nice to meet you or please be kind to me. . . it also means “kindly” or “acceptably”.  OK – it’s too hard to explain what it means.  I think this definition is kind of fun (from Urban Dictionary):

 

A Japanese phrase, meaning literally “kindly”, “acceptably”, but in practice meaning just about anything the speaker wants to say but doesn’t have the guts or doesn’t feel the need to say. Understanding this word is key to understanding the Japanese culture.

 

“Sachiyo-san ni yoroshiku.” “Say ‘yoroshiku’ to Sachiyo for me.” = “I kinda like Sachiyo but I’m afraid to ask her out, so please tell her I said this so she can wonder if maybe I like her and then hopefully communicate via subtle body language at some point that she might like me too, or not.”

 

Anyway, there’s no sign in front of the restaurant right now – the guy who was supposed to do their sign left to go help out with Hurricane Sandy and hasn’t gotten back yet!  But they opened their doors anyway last Monday. A tough week to open, given the holiday, but it was actually quite full when we were there on Saturday night, despite the fact that they didn’t even have a sign up.

So the food!  Kobayashi-san and his crew are from Sapporo, Hokkaido – the northernmost island of Japan – so their cuisine reflects that region, and it’s such a welcome break from the same-old, same-old California rolls with too much mayonnaise that we we have far too much of around here (imho).  For the most part, you could think of the menu offerings as a kind of Japanese tapas – the mainstay are the yakitori – little pieces of meat or veggies on sticks.  WOW – they are tasty!  We had the pork belly from Oregon, the asparagus with bacon – and the yakitori plate, which is a great selection of delicious chicken pieces with a chef’s choice of vegetable skewers.  The regular tare sauce was super tasty, but next time I’m gonna try one of the other sauces – they also have salt, a sweet chili mayo, spicy sauce, and nuts miso.  Anyway, you could do a whole leisurely meal with these and some sake, beer, or wine (lots of good drink options – wines from OR and WA, couple different sake options, yuzu & plum wine for some fruitier options).

But the thing is, there’s some other fabulous stuff on the menu that you wouldn’t want to miss.  For one, the okonomiyaki!  I don’t know of any other places in town that serve okonomiyaki – I’ve heard it described as a savory pancake or Japanese pizza, but I think both are woefully inadequate descriptions of this food that I first came to know and love in the southern regions of Japan.  You could order one of these to share along with other “tapas” or just eat that as your main dish – the Modern one on the specials menu has yakisoba noodles in the middle (like the version I know from Osaka, I think) – plus pork and the batter and cabbage and the signature sauce (sometimes there’s also shrimp or other seafood – we’re omnivores, so you might want to ask if you’re not).  You can cut it up with the cute little spatulas that people use in Japan to make them on the hot griddles.

We were a decent size group – so I can also speak to the fish/veggie nabe, which is quintessential cold-weather food – very subtly flavored broth with fish and veggies.  Very basic but tasty and so perfect for winter!

Last but not least – ramen!  I’m super picky about ramen – basically only know of 1 place in CA and 1 place in Hawaii where I think the ramen passes muster and comes close to what I had in Japan.  Their ramen rocked!  It’s got a pork sauce that’s about as far from Top Ramen as it’s possible to get – our kids (ages 6 and 2) loved it so much, we had to order a second big bowl for them (admittedly, we were also stealing bites under the guise of “cooling it off” for them).

Anyway, they also have other small plates that sound enticing – like home-made pickled vegetables, cheese age-yaki (grilled deep fried tofu), deep fried chicken Hokkaido style, salads, grilled rice balls – and larger plates that are equally enticing (e.g., kushiage a la carte – deep fried skewers – “Zin Ggis Khan” (Hokkaido-style BBQ lamb), grilled salmon with miso, and tofu steak.

Oh yeah – and dessert was amazing!  A beautiful matcha green tea cheesecake with ice cream (and I’m not really a cheese-cake fan) and fried sweet potatoes w/ice cream (yeah baby, I like that!).

 

 

Yep, we kinda pigged out, but it was so good and such a refreshing break from the Japanese food in the area!  You could just opt for yakitori on rice if you really wanted to play it safe, too – I’m sure it’d be good, but why?

Here’s their website: http://4649seattle.com.  They have a Facebook page too. I have no doubt as soon as folks in the ‘hood check it out, they’ll be quick fans as well.

By the way, Ann was due with her third child on Monday, so there’s a good chance she and her partner, Zack, have already welcomed #3 into the world by now. Congratulations, Ann and Zack, and thank you so much for writing this review for Wallyhood!

 

Yoroshiku is open Monday-Thursday: 5:00pm-10:00pm; Friday and Saturday: 5:00pm-11:00pm; Sunday: 5:00pm-9:00pm.
  • Katie

    Yum! Excited to try it.

  • a

    We went a couple of days ago. Really yummy food.

  • Nancy M

    Okonomiyaki in Wallingford! At last!

  • Slosh

    This review is too long. One word: delicious!

  • a

    It is a truly yummy okonomiyaki too, Nancy.

  • K206

    I’m Japanese-American (born in Tokyo, raised in Seattle) and while I liked the ramen at Yoroshiku, I felt like this place is overall expensive. $12 for chashu-men? With tax and tip, you’re paying closer to $15.

    You can also find cheaper (and better) kushi-yaki at Issian (next to Molly Moon’s on 45th). Nancy – They also have great okonomiyaki.

    With that said, I like trying places twice before I judge them (read: write a Yelp review) and I will go back to try some of their other skewers and regional Hokkaido cuisine.

  • Nancy M

    Sales tax (and high commercial rent) has always been a challenge for small businesses in Seattle/Washington . . . how to lower it I wonder. K206: thanks for the okonomiyaki tip (Boom Noodle has a unrecognizable fusion version, interesting but nothing like what I experienced in Tokyo and surrounds).

  • Tirapop

    Sounds like I need to check it out. My mom is from Kansai, which is known for okonomiyaki (Osaka’s Dohton Bori, Kyoto, and Kobe). Okonomiyaki with yakisoba is Hiroshima style.

    I’ve taken to making okonomiyaki at home every week or two. Central Market in Shoreline has Otafuku brand okonomiyaki batter mix and sauce. They also sell tenkasu (fried tempura bits), katsuobushi (bonito flakes), aonorii, kewpie mayonnaise, and beni shoga (red pickled ginger). If you want to make it from scratch, they even have nagaimo yam. You can follow the package directions or go to okonomiyakiworld.com.

    I’ve read people whine about “another Japanese restaurant” in Wallingford. Yakitori, ramen, and okonomiyaki are a nice change from the typical (but beloved) neighborhood sushi restaurants.

  • Frankie

    OK, I know they’re reading this. I ate there last night. everything was good but I have two constructive complaints:

    1. I am the number one Ramen expert on Wallyhood. This is not up for debate. The Ramen noodles were great, perfect mouthfeel, but the broth was light and kind of bland for a Tonkotsu. Needs more pork and bone gelatin rendered in there and more pork fat and basically needs to be much richer and creamier. Also it was a relatively small portion for what’s traditionally a massive bowl, even (especially) in Japan.
    2. It was freezing and the two or three tables right in front of the door suffer for it every time someone walks in. Don’t know how you address that easily.

    Anyway – welcome to the neighborhood! Glad to have you.

  • K206

    they don’t serve tonkotsu ramen; they serve shio ramen.

  • Frankie

    They had a pork/Shio Ramen as well as the plain Shio Ramen on Monday night (two separate menu items), but you’re right, it’s not a real Tonkotsu. But it certainly wasn’t Shio either. And I was kind of expecting more of a Sapporo influence on that, like maybe a Mouko Tanmen.

  • KC

    Hokkaido is known for miso ramen anyway.

    I had 4649 salad. its mixture of mayo and green and can of tuna puree.
    It wasnt bad, but kind of home cooking style.
    Also beef ruibe is frozen roast beef salad. I did not like it.
    Ruibe is traditionary salmon!

  • http://blog.protectedstatic.com/ protected static

    We had a lovely dinner there this evening. My only complaints would be that the acoustics suck (we had a couple noise-related miscommunications with the waitstaff) and that they’re charging too much for their veggie yakitori for what you get. Three mushroom halves? Four grape tomatoes?

    OTOH, the savory pancake was outstanding, as were the meatballs. And the shiso pork belly. Mmmm. Pork belly…

  • Flato

    Frankie, tonkatsu is pork (ton) cutlet (katsu is an abbreviation for katsureto). Breaded and fried pork.

  • Frankie

    Flato, I said “Tonkotsu” which means “pork bone” and is a style of Ramen broth, among other things.It’s most popular in Kyushu but appears all over Japan. The collagen, marrow and fats melt into the broth and give it a creamy, rich consistency and amazing depth of flavor.

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