Yuzen Japanese Restaurant

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Photo Credit: Yuzen / Facebook

This South End Shopping Center sushi restaurant recently took their offerings up a notch, bringing on board chef Ryuichi Nakano. Formerly the owner of Kisaku Sushi near Green Lake, and from I Love Sushi before that, he was rumored to be heading to Edmonds after leaving Kisaku, but has turned up behind the low sushi bar at Yuzen. It would rocket the island’s sushi reputation if Nakano serves the same type of high-quality omakase (chef’s choice menu) he did at Kisaku, but it’s comforting to know that he always kept good value items on the menu, as well.

That’s because, while the menu is currently in a transition phase, the stellar $1 sushi specials remain for now (and hopefully forever), with favorites like shrimp, salmon, and snapper sharing space on the happy hour menu (4:30pm-6pm daily) with $4 rolls and $5 sake and beer. It’s an unbeatable deal, with fresh fish and an extremely drinkable cold sake (or a Manny’s on draft), that makes for an easy entry point for sushi newbies, and a chance to gorge on old favorites for almost no money for savvy sushi-lovers.

But come dinner time, the friendly staff bustle about the clean but casual dinning room, delivering exciting specials like sea urchin and menu standards such as tangy chicken curry, vegetable tempura, and sushi samplers. Despite the minimal décor – a few red lanterns over the bar, a black specials boards drawn on with neon markers – the food provides most of the color here, with multi-color rolls, bright sashimi samplers, and vibrant matcha ice cream.

Yuzen is located at 8451 SE 68th St, Mercer Island, WA. Learn more at www.yuzenjapanese.com.

Written by Naomi Tomky