Sunday, January 24, 2010

Eatin’ Good in the Neighborhood

Ok, ok. You’re right, that’s the jingle for one of those crappy chain restaurants that’s located in strip malls and airports, maybe Applebee’s or TGIFriday’s, who can be sure? I happened to be thinking about my lovely little neighborhood, and then that little diddy casually rolled into my head, where it has since taken up residence and has been forcefully making information like names of US presidents and state capitols take a hike…

But in other news, back to my neighborhood. I didn’t realize until the other day (when a friend called me out on it) that I have become a true Ballardite…just in the last 6 months or so! Evan and I have both lived in Ballard (and loved it) for a few years, but we were on the Eastside of Ballard, and regardless of our affection for the neighborhood, the sense of community just wasn’t there for us. Since moving to the Westside, my Ballard pride has taken over. Yes, I want to support my local Ballard businesses and ‘shop locally’. Yes, I only go out to Ballard bars. Yes, I’m on the La Isla mailing list. Yes, I think Cupcake Royale is better than Trophy. Yes, I read religiously. No, I don’t have a ‘Free Ballard’ bumper sticker on my car, I haven’t gone that far (…yet).

But still, I finally feel (for the first time in Seattle since I live on campus during college) like I’m part of a neighborhood community. And it feels pretty awesome. Of course, my favorite part about the ‘hood is the food. And yes, I definitely support our Ballard restaurants with large portions of Evan and my paychecks every month. Since moving in August, Evan and I have discovered a new favorite, go-to restaurant in Ballard, and it just so happens to be mere feet from our doorstep: O’Shan Sushi.

I love sushi. Actually, I think I’m a bit of a poser when I say that, because really, I love maki-style rolls—especially western style—and a lot of sushi-snobs would say these aren’t the real deal (and Seattle has its fair share of sushi-snobs). I mean, I like nigiri… sashimi is good… but it’s the exciting fun flavor combos of raw or cooked seafood, veggies, and sauces rolled up in nori (seaweed) and sticky sushi rice, soaked in wasabi-clouded soy sauce that really gets me jazzed for sushi. Call me a sushi rookie, poser, or wannabe if you must, but I don’t care, I’ll be happily savoring a smoky-sweet salmon, buttery cream cheese, crisp cool cucumber, rich creamy avocado, and salty soy sauce doused Philly Roll. Call me what you will…O’Shan’s got my back.

From the outside O'Shan doesn't look like much, nestled unassumingly next to Wing Master. The interior, however, is small but inviting, with simple Japanese décor and art that makes it feel sophisticated and welcoming, without being pretentious or too hip. With a sushi master (Dad? Grandpa?) behind the counter making fresh sushi right in front of you and smiling at everyone that walks in, and the super-nice sisters handing out friendly compliments and plates of delicious food, it’s the kind of place that you go to on a whim on a Wednesday night, or for a romantic date on a Friday night, or for takeout every night. Especially when you live a block away and need quick takeout for an impromptu movie-date night.

I’ve tried a lot of the amazing rolls on the menu, including some of my favorite ‘western rolls’ like the tempura fried Firecracker Roll with spicy tuna and avocado topped with sweet sauce and spicy aioli, or my all time favorite the Philly roll. I also love some of O’Shan’s more creative unique rolls, like the Tuna Poke Roll, filled with tempura scallion and fresh cucumber, topped with raw tuna, avocado and sweet chili sauce; the Red Mango Roll with a refreshingly sweet combo of mango, shrimp, red pepper, and avocado; or the chef’s choice fresh veggie rolls, which are never the same twice. Evan likes to order the hot plates- teriyaki, chicken katsu, fried oysters, miso soup… all equally delicious.

So, next time you find yourself in my ‘hood, stop by O’Shan and tell ‘em Amber sent you. Ok, just kidding, they don’t know my name so that wouldn’t get you anything but awkward looks… but you should stop by anyway. And, if you’re one of those aforementioned ‘Sushi Snobs,’ you’re in luck, because O’Shan has a pretty impressive nigiri and sashimi menu… if you’re into that sort of thing.
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