history and sushi in seattle (day 11)

I'm writing this in the middle of the night, having crashed as soon as we got back to the cottage, then waking up a few hours later, wide awake. This is likely from drinking -- very rare these days, and worth it.

After breakfast and a lot of coffee, we headed to downtown Seattle, meeting our friend J at Cherry Street Coffee, then for Bill Spiedel's Underground Tour. This was the one tourist attraction in town that interested us. It was a very entertaining and enlightening view of Seattle in the early days of European settlement.  

The tour (which is not at all accessible if you have mobility issues) brings you under the sidewalks of the Pioneer Square area, the oldest part of the city. The tour guide acknowledged the original inhabitants of this region, the Salish people of the Duwamish and Suquamish nations. Referencing the US inviting settlers to stake claims to the area, the guide said, "Hey, it's not our land, but we're giving it away!". He also made a few jokes obliquely referencing Trump. There were several Canadians on the tour, in Seattle for a Blue Jays game.

After saying goodbye to J, we headed to the area near the Pike Place Market, not to go to the Market (we've been there in the past), but to find a line-up for a very special dinner. Traffic, parking, heat, and the crowds were a minor nightmare, but when we found the queue, and realized we would definitely be seated, it was instantly worth it.

While in Seattle, we're eating in two restaurants recommended by a nephew and his partner on a recent trip to the city. The first was Sushi Kashiba, home to Shiro, one of the premiere sushi chefs in the country. He trained under Jiro, of the "Jiro Dreams of Sushi" documentary. We couldn't get a reservation, but there is an omakase counter seating, every day at 5:00 and 7:00. They don't take reservations for this, and I read online that people line up as early as 3:00 to secure a place. When we arrived around 3:20, there were three couples already there.

Shortly before 5:00, a host walked through the line, welcoming each person, taking our names, explaining how the dinner would work (and which seating you would get), and handing out the beverage menu. (If you don't make the 5:00 seating, but get in the 7:00, you can leave and come back at 7.) Next the sommelier went through the line, taking beverage orders, helping us choose a bottle of sake. I was surprised, but very pleased, that Allan wanted to include that, as he's usually more concerned with costs than I am. 

From the moment we walked in, it was obvious that the service would be absolutely perfect. There was a lot of staff, and they were warm, friendly, and incredibly meticulous. The menu not only informed of a 20% gratuity, but specified that 100% of that goes to staff (chefs, servers, and support) in the form of wages. A nice touch (and I ended up tipping extra anyway).

The sushi was indescribable, every piece an explosion of texture and taste. I don't know if it was better than Sushi Kaji, our go-to place for special celebrations in Toronto. The menus and styles of the meal were very different, so it's impossible to compare them. Both are the best sushi I've ever eaten, and among the best food of any kind that we've ever had.

There were six chefs preparing the omakase menu; ours was very friendly and talkative. We also chatted with the couple sitting next to me, who were from Kansas City. Their trip started out on Vancouver Island, and we may end up in Kansas City next year, a funny coincidence. 

We drank a bottle of sake, which is a lot for us these days. And there was actually more sushi than I could eat -- I gave up my final pieces to Allan. Between food and drink, I was totally zonked, and totally enjoyed being so.

This was, of course, a wildly expensive meal. We spend next to nothing on entertainment at home, and normally when we travel, we eat well, but still within a middle or average price range. On this trip, we decided to splurge -- one night for this special sushi dinner, and one night its seeming opposite. 

Today, we're going to the Seattle Public Library -- I saw it last year, and want Allan to see it, too -- then Allan has a bookstore crawl planned, and I'm visiting the Seattle Art Museum. After that, steak!


Amy said...

The sushi sounds wonderful.

I have only two questions after the last two posts....where do you keep all those books, and do you and Allan ever actually get to read all the books you buy? I've limited my purchases of hard copy books since moving since we have no more room for bookcases. I read either ebooks on my kindle or library books I can return. The only books I'd buy are those not available in ebook format or in the library and that I need for genealogy research or want for the art/photographs. I think in the two years since we moved I've purchased maybe five actual physical books. If that many. (That doesn't include books I buy as gifts for others.)

laura k said...

I know many people no longer buy print books, but Allan and I both like to have them. We still buy CDs, and until we moved west, we still had a huge LP collection, and listened to LPs regularly. We both still like physical media.

I can't guarantee I'll read every book I own, but I certainly buy books with the intention of reading them, and I absolutely will read most of them. When I'm looking for my next read, I look through my own bookshelves, especially for nonfiction.

Besides reading a ton, Allan also collects books by certain authors or certain editions of old paperbacks, like pulp crime novels. That is partly why he searches used bookstores.

We have a large common area of bookshelves, and every once in a while I will weed out some books to give away, to create more space. I do want to read every book I own, but I don't need to keep every book forever.

We also both have bookshelves in our home offices. And Allan has books everywhere, both in his office and in storage space.

One last thought: most of the books I buy in Powell's are out of print. Some may be available as ebooks, but for purchase only, not through the library. I do read ebooks, but if I'm going to spend money on a book, I'd much rather own it in print.

laura k said...

Also, you note that you "limit purchases" of print books. We limit ours, too! If we didn't, our entire house would be filled with stacks of books. :)

Amy said...

I get it, and if we had more space, I'd probably buy more actual books. But I have adapted to the ebooks and have found many advantages to them---I can enlarge the font as big as I need, I can read in bed even with the lights off, and I don't have to worry about what will happen to the books when I die. That last may sound strange, but I know my kids won't want to sift through all the books I have collected over my life----going back to The Phantom Tollbooth and Charlotte's Web. They will just toss them wherever is most convenient. When I did thin out the collection before we moved, I couldn't find a library to take them. I ended up throwing them in a bin at the Salvation Army, knowing that 90% of them would end up in a landfill.

We have DVDs and CDs and old albums and even some VHS tapes. But no equipment to use to watch them.

laura k said...

There are many great things about ebooks. Your list is pretty typical, plus they're so convenient for travel. I certainly have nothing against the format. Ebooks, audiobooks, graphic, print -- they're all real books. We are still attached to seeing our books -- we love their presence in the house, the way we love libraries.