Thanks to a restaurant location application on my handy-dandy G1 phone, I've been wanting to try Miyabi Sushi for several weeks. Unfortunately, every time I got the hankering it was Sunday and they weren't open. After the Oriental Spoon sushi encounter, I had mixed feelings about trying more sushi even though Yelp and CitySearch readers seemed to really dig this restaurant. Ironically, this really delicious sushi restaurant sits in the same strip as Pabla India Grill and Bai Tong. How is it possible such good eating is all in the same strip mall...in Tukwila? Really?
When I entered the restaurant, I was immediately enchanted. Even with the blue tarps on the ground (to provide a "picnic" feel to their Hanami week celebration), there were dozens of cherry tree branches in full bloom hanging from the ceiling. The restaurant felt like you were in a private outdoor garden and the hostess quickly found me an open table and introduced me to "Hanami". According to Miyabi's website: "Hanami is a tradition in Japan to celebrate the coming of Spring and the cherry blossoms in full bloom. Friends and family would gather to drink and eat under a cherry blossom – kind of like a drunken picnic. Miyabi’s Hanami Week is a week full of eating, drinking, singing, and cherry blossoms." Miyabi actually holds nine different celebrations a year including typical American holidays and more traditional "Doyou no Ushi no Hi" and "Natsu Matsuri" events.
While I was trying to decide what I was going to order, I enjoyed some of the best Edamame I've tried. Usually edamame is very salty and the beans are a bit too soft for me. These were beautifully cooked (still al dente) and only slightly salty as if they were blanched in salt water instead of being tossed in salt after steaming. The beans were sweet and delectable and I ate about a third of them before finally moving back to the menu. Decisions, decisions.
In the end, I chose to pass up the Hanami specific offerings in favor of items they have year 'round and nothing could be more appropriate than staring with Gyoza stuffed with pork and tons of green onions. The outside was crispy on the "potsticker" side and tender and almost buttery on the other. The flavor was saltier than I had expected, but really mellowed out after the second one. (And no, the plate of six didn't stand a chance with me!) I really liked the amount of green onion as it added a bit more "bite" to the internal texture and helped the Gyoza stand out as a solid appetizer selection.
Next came a beautiful plate with all of my Nigiri Sushi and Makimono selections sitting atop banana leaves. Given you "eat with your eyes" first, I couldn't wait to get started.
The first morsel I tried was the Maguro: tuna-topped finger-width rice sushi. The bright-red tuna was so unbelievably buttery it just melted in my mouth! The portion was perfectly-sized, but be warned: You will want to order a half-dozen of these at least. At $2.25 per piece, you really can afford to eat and eat.
Just because it was sitting next to the Maguro, the Veg Veg Wrap was next to be tasted. The rice paper wrapping gently houses a roll stuffed to the brim with goodness: carrot, avocado, cucumber, asparagus, a few green leaves and watercress shoots, along with a very sweet, brown something (I really should have written it down). The wrap is quite large so even the two pieces are plenty.
The Spicy California Roll not only looked incredible, but was actually spicy; the heat continued to grow as I savored every bite. The filling was a traditional crab meat salad with cucumber and avocado, but also included a yellow-orange roe and flakes and was topped with a delicious, spicy mayo and more vibrant red roe. The small pops of eggs offered an amazing texture contrast to the soft, fluffy rice. The six bite-sized pieces were simply not enough and definitely left me wanting more.
Despite how great the other tastes and sights were, the Geisha Wrap had to be my absolute favorite dinner item. The warm, baked, shredded crab meat hugged asparagus spears and roe and the entire bundle was held together by the same fluffy rice and tender sesame-seeded rice paper on the Veg Veg Wrap. The warm crab meat was unexpected and the creamy texture was addictive. My mouth couldn't have been happier.
I figured there was no way I still had room left for dessert, but one look at the Green Tea Tiramisu and I knew I had to try it. The green tea is used in powder form, so there's no bitterness. It's combined with traditional mascarpone cheese and very little sugar (if any) is added as it stays only lightly sweet. The layers of creamy filling sit between two very light and moist sponge cakes used instead of the expected ladyfingers. As I came to find out, about two-thirds of the desserts are made at an Asian bakery "up north" (I assume North Seattle), though they do make the tempura ice cream and two or three other desserts in-house. If you're looking for a rich, sweet dessert, this may not be the ideal choice for you.
In all, I was a bit shocked to have encountered such a warm, inviting, delicious restaurant. I guess lightning can strike thrice in the same strip mall location. Do yourself a favor and visit Miyabi tonight.