In the five years or so, since we *discovered* Yakuza (mere blocks from our home), it's become a favorite that we've visited several dozen times. Over the years the menu has been twisted and turned frequently, both to reflect the seasons or the whims of the chefs. That's a good thing, I guess (despite occasionally 'losing' a crave-worthy dish) - it keeps things fresh and interesting.
One big reason to visit Yakuza is their chevre and potato-strip laden burger, a juicy handful (that may require utensils!) and a relative bargain at $12 (as of mid-2011). Paired with an appetizer of cucumber/avocado salad or a side of spikey-haired tempura-battered scallops and the meal could be considered complete. Some emphasis on sushi -both in maki rolls and nigiri slivers- has returned to the menu, always with a Northwest 'fusion' twist. For example, a recent yellowtail/avocado/pear handroll was so excellent that we had FOUR at one sitting!
They have a small but pleasant patio at the back of the restaurant (almost zen-like, but for the occasional raucous party or rambunctious children) and a wide garage door facing NE 30th - both make Yakuza a great choice in nice weather. But even when the weather is foul, the sleek and oddly cozy (albeit sometimes loud) dining room is inviting.
Service can be slow at times, as the kitchen can get backed up during busy times. When that happens, we just order another cocktail (some fine recipes making use of the likes of beets or cilantro), a beer (a couple local taps, plus several Japanese lagers) or a sake (a couple dozen to seklect from) and go with it. Regardless of the server (and we've gotten to know several fine ones over the years), he or she will be friendly, forthright with recommendations and will keep the pace going as seamlessly as possible.
A night at Yakuza may set you back a few bucks but should be an enjoyable respite and will leave your taste buds enlightened.
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