Restaurant Radar: Naka Serves an Impressive Japanese Kaiseki Meal

Black Cod. Photo by Naka.

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.

Each dish was visually appealing and plated with an incredible attention to detail. Many of their herbs and microgreens are grown in a garden tended by chef outside the restaurant. Your meal may have some of the same elements as ours, but the menu changes often, sometimes daily. Naka takes extreme care to and works creatively around your food intolerances and allergies. Initially daunted  by the number of courses, we left satisfied, but not stuffed to the brim. We will definitely return.

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View of the bar. Photo by Naka.

Some of the highlights from our 10-course Naka kaiseki meal:

Lotus Root Dumpling with a shrimp filling.

Cedar Smoked Black Cod with a miso-soy glaze was moist, flakey, buttery.

Black Cod. Photo by Naka.
Black cod. Photo by Naka.

Toro with egg yolk and uni was such a luxurious dish.

Wagyu Steak was juicy and cooked to absolute perfection. I’m not crazy about eating steak and rarely—if ever—order it at restaurants, but I could eat this weekly.

Shiso Sorbet was a bright and fresh palate cleanser in the middle of our meal.

Chawanmushi with morel mushrooms was a warm and luscious refined comfort dish.

Wagyu steak with microgreens. Photo by Jennifer Liu.

Make online reservations here.

Open Wednesday through Sunday, 5:00 pm to close. 

Naka                            |                      1449 E Pine St., Seattle                   |               (206) 294- 5230