If you try to book a reservation for two people at Taneda Sushi In Kaiseki, the only slot available is probably at 9pm two months from now. Refresh your search for just one person and all of a sudden you can get in next week. Having a solo meal here is anything but a bummer though. Just like running a marathon or traveling to another country, you can enjoy this 25-course sushi and kaiseki meal all by yourself and still have an incredible experience.
Located in the back of a two-story indoor mall on Capitol Hill, Taneda is one of the best-value omakase experiences in Seattle. At the other well-known omakase spots, you’ll pay at least $250 for around 30 courses. At Taneda, it costs around $125 for a substantial meal of 25 courses, served by the chef himself. There are only a handful of places you can have this kind of experience in town, like Sushi Kashiba and Shiro’s, but you have to wait in crazy long lines and the atmosphere feels very serious and not as laid-back as the one at Taneda.
The nine-seat dining room is relatively quiet, but throughout your meal you’ll hear things that will immediately grab your attention. There’s the hiss of the blowtorch as the chef sears tuna cheeks, knives chopping salted flounder on wooden cutting boards, and the occasional loud, hollow clap that the chef makes with his hands just before serving a sushi course. When he does this, it feels similar to how a conductor taps his baton on a music stand to alert the orchestra that it’s go time. And for you, it’s a fun reminder that you’re about to have some excellent snapper placed in front of you, or receive a grilled eel nigiri directly in your open hand.
The mood during your hour-and-a-half meal is relaxed. The chef will ask you where you’re from while casually smoking salmon, and there’s still plenty of time to have a personal moment savoring each piece that’s basted in soy sauce with dollops of wasabi or daikon pickle. You’ll get things like chopped toro handrolls, chutoro and otoro nigiri, uni wrapped in sweet shrimp, Japanese scallops, seared A5 miyazaki wagyu topped with caviar, and even a second uni course.
Not every single bite is flawless - we’ve had wagyu katsu that was too thick and chewy, black cod miso that tasted great but had a couple of stray bones, and a cube of monkfish patè that’s way too rich to eat without some kind of cracker or toast. But those things are few and far between, and overall, you’ll walk out feeling fantastic.
The $125 price tag might seem like a lot to drop on a solo meal, but think of it like taking yourself out on a date - one where you’ll reach out for a piece of eel instead of someone else’s hand. Even if you’re forced to book the ninth lone seat in a sea of couples to get in here, you’ll never feel alone. You have 25 delicious courses, a friendly chef, and a surplus of uni to keep you company.
With around 25 courses that change by the season, it’s difficult to highlight everything you should expect. But we do have favorites. You’ll start with something light, like housemade silken tofu topped with salmon roe or lobster and scallop tossed in quince sauce. Then, you’ll get a bunch of dishes back-to-back, including pieces of excellent nigiri like torched golden sea bream and raw toro to kaiseki plates involving multiple small bites like portobello sushi, teriyaki corn, steamed abalone, edamame patè, and smelt tempura. There’ll always be some A5 miyazaki wagyu beef on the menu, whether it’s seared on top of rice with a dollop of caviar or panko-breaded and fried, and right before dessert, you’ll always get a delicious chopped toro handroll stuffed with pickled daikon and wrapped in crunchy seaweed that’s only available in Japan. You’ll end with a sweet bite like yuzu mousse before inevitably pulling up the calendar on your phone and planning your next visit.