Chef Shota Nakajima served a standout meal bringing Seattle its first traditional kaiseki-style Japanese restaurant. The overall experience at Naka is one of the best in recent memory. The atmosphere is modern, with light music playing in the background, and only a half-full dining area. The chic bar was busier than the dining room on the weeknight we visited, but gets fully booked on the weekend.

There are three options for dining: a tasting menu (six courses for $75); the Naka kaiseki (10 courses for $120); and the chef kaiseki (15 courses for $170). The 15-course menu is customized and requires a week’s advance notice. Unlike omakase, kaiseki is a coursed meal determined by the chef’s whim. If you want to check out the restaurant, but aren’t ready to commit to a coursed meal, the bar food menu showcases freshly shucked oysters, a chicken rice bowl, a wagyu katsu, and more.

Toro with egg yolk and uni.

Photo by Jennifer Liu.

We enjoyed our meal here more than at the Michelin-starred Kusakabe in San Francisco last month. Our waitress at Naka, Maddie, was lovely and really enhanced the overall experience. She was warm, genuine, attentive, and knowledgeable about the menu. She took the time to explain each dish and gave us a little background of the restaurant and Chef Nakajima. In Seattle, service is sometimes overlooked as an integral part of a strong and returning customer base.

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