We had some absolutely exquisite tastes at Sasabune. The toro (bluefin) from Japan done two ways was one of the best bites of fish I've ever had. Overall, though, while it was enjoyable and had some high moments, the dinner there was an expensive disappointment after all the buildup of expectations.
To start with, I am put off by any restaurant where the drinks waiter tries -- aggressively, shamelessly -- to push the most expensive sake on the patron. Bad form, and a bad start.
We of course went with the chef's choice for food, and were somewhat surprised that it's a kind of mass-production thing. He's working on several diners at once, making the same dish for the whole group. Nothing wrong with this in theory, but it made the experience less personal than in other sushi restaurants where the chef at least gives the appearance of preparing food for you personally. Also, a fair number of the dishes come out of the kitchen, not from the hands of the chef himself.
The food itself was variable. The toro, as I said, was extraordinary. Other fish had less distinctive flavor. I have a bias toward sushi restaurants that give you superb fish that tastes clearly of its individual type. Sasabune relies a lot on sauces, often delicious ones, and to my mind they diminish the ability to taste the fish. The sashimi, for example, had a delicious sauce that to me masked the flavor of what was probably lovely fish. The cooked dishes were perhaps the most disappointing. There was a lobster tail (more crawfish size) baked in tinfoil in a creamy sauce that was pleasant but didn't really taste like lobster -- more like cream sauce. And we finished with a blue crab hand roll (rolled by the apprentices) that was just plain uninteresting: a fat tube of nori looking like an oversized joint filled with nothing more than rice and crab. Kind of boring.
We had a mid-priced ($50) bottle of sake, a couple of beers -- and the bill was $528 before tip for four. I have no problem with that kind of price for an extraordinary meal, but it was way too high for something mostly OK with some moments of brilliance.
One very disappointing note: one of the dishes included a baked clam, and two of us had palpably bad clams, barely edible. When we mentioned this to the sous-chef behind the bar he laughed and more or less dismissed our comment. Generally any restaurant will go out of its way to make something like that right, and that was a major goof.
Another sous-chef goof was that we asked if we could have uni in our dinner. We were delighted to have generous portions plopped onto our plates -- only to have the chef growl at his minion, who then whisked them off our (used) plates onto the plates of other patrons. Bad form, bad hygiene.
If you're in Seattle, go to Shiro's on 2nd. You will have a new benchmark.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.