New in April 2024

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April has arrived quickly and with it brings new spring vegetables, fish, and more that you’ll find on our menu. The chefs that bring these ingredients to life are such an essential part of our restaurant that we will continue to profile them in our newsletters, showcasing many of the things that make them great chefs, special people, and so valuable to the people that know them.

Chef Profile: Lead Sushi Chefs

We continue to profile some of our chefs at Shiro’s, many of whom you may have seen and interacted with: January Chef Masaki, March New Chef Yutaka. This month, we begin to introduce our three leading sushi chefs at our Sushi Bar! First chef up is Chef Taro!

Taro is from Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. He has been at Shiro’s for three years and has extensive chef experience and restaurant management experience outside Seattle.

During a five-year stay in Singapore, he worked in Japanese cuisine at a 5-star hotel, was heavily involved in the opening of several new Japanese restaurants and organized a cooking school to promote Japanese cuisine. After his time in Singapore, Taro moved to Hawaii, a place he had always dreamed of living. While in Hawaii, he worked on sushi store development and technical training. After three years in Hawaii, he was transferred to Seattle to open a new restaurant. Taro has remained in Seattle for 30 years, now residing in Sammamish where he enjoys the natural and tranquil surroundings.

Q: What do you do on your days off?

A. I spend my days off playing golf and cooking for my family. I also enjoy singing, and will happily sing a few notes for guests!

Q: What is your favorite food?

A. My favorite sushi is Kohada, and my favorite non-sushi dish is Sundubu. I enjoy going out for Korean food and eat it about three times a month!

Q: What do you think is the attraction of Shiro’s?

A. You can enjoy authentic Japanese Sushi with a friendly and casual vibe.

From Chef Taro

I invite you to enjoy a new, or returning, experience with us!

If you have any questions or would like to know more, please come and see Taro at the Sushi Bar! As a former cooking teacher, he also has a wealth of knowledge and is very skilled in teaching. If you have any questions, we highly encourage you to ask Taro!

Favorite Fish at Shiro’s – Salmon

Salmon is one of the two most popular fish at Shiro’s (the other is tuna). Washington has strong ties with salmon, especially sockeye (Pacific Salmon), which is found off our shores and is also the furthest south that sockeye will travel.

The direct translation of salmon is “sake,”(鮭) which is a homonym of the alcohol “sake,”(酒) but has a slightly different pronunciation. In Japan, Sake for salmon usually refers to the country’s most popular salmon, which is Keta Salmon (sometimes also called “Shiro Sake” with “Shiro” meaning “white”). However, when the English word “Salmon” is spoken, it is used for Atlantic Salmon, which is an entirely different species from Pacific Salmon (similar, but vastly different, such as comparing domestic house cats and cheetahs!). At Shiro’s we serve Atlantic Salmon, Ola King Salmon, and Sockeye Salmon.

Salmon is deeply rooted in both the Pacific Northwest and in Japan. Residents in both places have high expectations of the salmon they eat. Rest assured that we take that expectation seriously with our selection, knowledge and preparation!

Sake in April
Aka Kid- Heiwa Shuzo, Wakayama, Japan

We just received a new and unique type of Sake that is red in color. This particular Sake is made using an unpolished and ancient red rice strain called Akamai.

Red rice is the oldest type of rice in Japan, also known as ancient rice*. Initially, white rice, commonly consumed today, was derived from red rice. The mutation that caused the rice to lose its red color gene gave rise to white rice. White rice is preferred over red rice because the tannin in red rice has an astringent taste. Nowadays, red rice is a rare commodity since very few farmers grow it due to its low demand.

This special sake, Aka Kid, has a moderately sweet taste with a hint of honey and fragrant aromas of red rice. It also has a balanced acidity and astringency that give it a light body and prevent it from being too heavy, which is typical of Kid. It is recommended to pair Aka Sake with Ankimo!

*Ancient rice is a variety of rice that has characteristics that may have been present in rice in ancient times.

What makes Washoku so unique? Water in Japan

When we talk about Washoku (Japanese cuisine), as we did last month, we also take into account the characteristics of water in Japan, which has had a major impact on the development of Washoku.

The hardness of water is a vital characteristic, which is based on the amount of minerals contained in the water, specifically calcium and magnesium. If the water contains a lot of minerals, it is considered hard, and vice versa. In Japan, water (surface flow and underground flow) runs quickly through the terrain, consisting mostly of rugged mountains and large flat areas, which limits the waters opportunity to capture minerals from the land. As a result, most of the water in Japan is soft.

Coming back to Washoku, it is developed under the condition of water being soft. The typical example is the development of Dashi, or Japanese broth. To obtain good Dashi it is necessary to use soft water. If you use hard water, minerals in the water block the amino acids, which is an essential element for good dashi  – it releases Dashi ingredients, such as Kombu (kelp) or Katsuobushi (dried bonito).

On the other hand, for sake brewing, the lack of minerals in the water makes Kobo (yeast) less activate. In sake making, it is common to use a ground well or spring where the water is able to penetrate through many layers of land before coming out, therefore increasing the hardness.

The good news in reference to Washoku is that the Seattle area has soft water, ranging from 22 ppm to 47 ppm. It is similar to Japanese bottled water which has a hardness ranging between 10 ppm and 60 ppm. In comparison, European water tends to be hard (Evian has 304 ppm, Contrex has 1468 ppm).

All of this means that we live in ideal water conditions to present Washoku! We are fortunate to be able to utilize and incorporate it every day, including with our sushi, at Shiro’s.