I don't claim to be a sushi expert but I've had some great sushi in my time, so when something is really exceptional, I can tell. SanKai sushi in Edmonds is one of the best sushi restaurants in the puget sound region.
I took my son to SanKai sushi in Edmonds this week to celebrate his birthday. We both love sushi but we haven't been out to eat much due to the pandemic so we were well overdue.
Many years ago I traveled to Japan frequently for work and in addition to a great appreciation for the Japanese people, the landscape and the culture, I fell in love with the food.
At first I didn't even like sushi, and I thought the taste of those seaweed papers used to make sushi rolls were awful. They have a fishy smell that is strong if you're not used to it. Because I was traveling on business we had many business meals and I didn't want to appear impolite by not enjoying whatever food was prepared so I ate everything. It helped that the Japanese businessmen I worked with liked to drink so after several tall bottles of Asahi super dry, it was easier to swallow raw fish.
I started to realize that tuna was pretty mild and with some rice, wasabi and soy sauce it was not too bad. There are several "harmless" nigiri for the new sushi eater such as tomago (scrambled egg), cucumber roll (rice, cucumber, seaweed paper), ebi (cooked shrimp), tako (cooked shrimp), unagi (BBQ eel), maguro (raw tuna), and hamachi (raw yellowtail).
Nigiri is a style of sushi in which the fish is placed on top of a small clump of sticky rice with some wasabi. Dipping into soy sauce with more wasabi is acceptable but must be done with some dignity. Do not shake the soy sauce off the nigiri. Do put the whole thing in your mouth. It is meant to be eaten in one bite. Some pieces are too big (they shouldn't be) so if they are, its okay to bite off a piece.
After some practice and beer I started to like all kinds of sushi and next thing I knew I was eating Ikura (salmon roe), Uni (sea urchin) Tobiko Egg (flying fish roe with raw quail egg) and loving it!
Good sushi is hard to find, even in Japan. It has to be very fresh and is likely to be very expensive.
That is another reason why SanKai was such a surprise. The food was very affordable considering the quality. We ordered a spider roll (fried softshell crab, avocado, cucumber, flying fish roe, japanese mayonnaise, wrapped in seaweed paper) and some nigiri including the classic maguro and hamachi. The tuna was delicious and so tender but the yellowtail was so spectacular, I can't stop thinking about it. My son agreed. It just melted in your mouth so we ordered several more pieces. The variety of other nigiri and sashimi (just the fish, no rice) was compelling so we will have to come back and have the Omakase (chef's choice plate).
Since we were celebrating we ordered some saki. My son surprised me when he recognized Rihaku Nigori and explained that nigori translates to cloudy. Not having had it before we gate it a try and were very satisfied. It came chilled and was extremely smooth and mild.
The restaurant itself is charming. Newly decorated, it has a great sushi bar and very private tables separated by curtains.
The chef at SanKai, which means, mountain/sea is sushi master Ryuichi Nakano who has been honing his craft in the Seattle area for more than twenty-five years. Check out their website and learn more about Nakano-san.
An exceptional meal and the service was also outstanding. We will be back many times and I highly recommend.