Dinner at Ishoni, Bellevue, WA

This post has been sitting in my drafts folder too long :P I really want to get started on the summer reviews. But here is the best place for Japanese BBQ in the Seattle area.

Look at that lovely toroniku (pork cheek) curling up on the grill

Their toroniku is tender and fatty (like wagyu, but for pork) and it’s great with both their teriyaki seasoning and their salt and pepper seasoning.

Their prawns come in servings of 4 and their shells release a great aroma when grilled. They provide little individual dishes of lemon juice on the side for meats such as these. The pork goes well with the lemon juice too, when simply seasoned with salt and pepper.

Perfectly BBQ-ed. Of course, you need some technique if you want to eat here. Food takes centerstage at this restaurant, not your conversation. If you’re the kind that likes to talk a lot while eating and sometimes lose track of what you put into your mouth, this is not the place for you. One thing a lot of my American friends have observed while I was at college is how little Asian kids talk while eating. Even when I am eating with Z just between the two of us we can be very focused on the food and not bother saying anything to each other that is not related to the meal or to the people around us and their funny conversations.

Red hot coals. They give you a fresh set of coal at the start of your meal and change your mesh quite regularly when your food smokes too much.

We usually get a bowl of Ishoni rice each to go with the grilled meat. Their rice is garnished with some awesome sauce (no idea what it is), scallions, and sesame seeds, and tastes amazing even on its own.

My first introduction to beef tongue, when G told me I had to try it. I’m still not really used to the texture but it tastes pretty alright. It can be a little difficult to grill though, considering they pile scallions on one side.

Their wagyu is AMAZING. Well, you have to order the most expensive cut. We usually have a few plates of the wagyu and some plates of the less expensive stuff (to fill up on). It melts in your mouth and when grilled perfectly is smoky and savoury and juicy. I think they only season it with salt and pepper (no other options) so you don’t waste good wagyu.

Wagyu on the grill. There was once we *ahem* brought our own wagyu from Uwajimaya here but their wagyu is just much, much better than what Uwajimaya has.

Beef tongue on the grill. See what I mean by scallions falling off?

Beef tallow dripping from the wagyu

Perfectly charred.

Their spicy miso chicken comes in a more generous serving and is awesome! I don’t order chicken with any of their other seasonings although I’m sure they are good too. But spicy miso has just the right amount of kick for us; might be too spicy for non-asian palates. But worth a shot!

They do offer fresh vegetables on their menu – we usually get corn on the cob, green peppers, and shiitake. The shiitake cooks up really nicely on the grill with the leftover fat from the meat. The corn takes a long time to grill though, and tends to squirt at your dining companions.

Reservations are very necessary if you want to eat here. The place is small, maybe 6 tables? And each table seats at most 6 (a bit of a squeeze). The reservation timings are something like 5:30pm, 7:00pm, and 8:30pm. You get booted out after your 1.5 hrs is up. Their service is prompt, and we’ve never had a problem with that. You’d probably be able to get a timing of your choice if you reserve about 2 weeks in advance.


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