November 4

Sushi by Scratch Restaurants

An inside look at Seattle’s most sought-after dinner reservation.

When my dinner guest and I showed up for our reservation at Sushi by Scratch Restaurants at 2331 Sixth Avenue, it took a moment for us to figure out if we were at the right place. The entrance is unassuming, windows are blocked off, and there’s no obvious signage until you’re right there at the door. A small gold sign let us you know we were indeed where we were supposed to be:

Sushi by Scratch Restaurants
Serving omakase nightly by appointment only. Please ring bell for service.

Ok then!

Once we were greeted, we found ourselves in a small standing room/whiskey bar where we sipped on welcome cocktails. With thousands of names on the waiting list and the tease of exclusivity at the front door, I was expecting a stuffy dining experience. But dinner at Sushi by Scratch Restaurants didn’t feel that way at all. It was remarkably chill—think quiet speakeasy but with a 17-course omakase-only menu featuring a mixture of locally sourced seafood and fresh imports from Japan. We were at the thoughtful mercy of a pair of highly experienced sushi chefs and a head chef who orchestrates the experience and explains the courses. The conversation was lively, and the food was outstanding.

Group photo of sushi chefs in their kitchen.

The 10-seat sushi restaurant comes from chefs/owners Phillip Frankland Lee and Margarita Kallas-Lee. Lee takes flavors from his own experiences and applies them to the traditional canvas of Japanese sushi. For example, the hamachi brushed with sweet corn pudding topped with sourdough breadcrumbs is a signature, and for good reason—both my dining buddy and I thought it was the best bite of the night. All of the nigiri were fantastic, but other highlights for me included the akami (lean tuna), shima aji (striped jack), and the local uni (sea urchin).

Chef Lee shared some words about the Seattle dining scene and what makes Sushi by Scratch Restaurants so special:

What are your thoughts about the Seattle dining scene?

Chef Lee: I really love the DIY counterculture of the Seattle restaurant scene. I’ve had great dining experiences in the city and the food is fantastic. A few of the standouts are Lark, Walrus and the Carpenter, and Bangrak Market.

What, from a chef’s perspective, makes Sushi by Scratch Restaurants such a special dining experience?

Chef Lee: Our Omakase experience is unique because it’s telling my personal sushi story. I grew up in LA’s San Fernando Valley, which is famous for its abundance of sushi bars. I fell hard and was a soy sauce and wasabi enthusiast by seven. I knew I wanted to be a sushi chef by 13 and started reading all I could about the art of sushi. I’ve incorporated flavor combinations and other culinary memories to create each piece of nigiri. An example is the hamachi with corn pudding and sourdough breadcrumbs. That’s a total nod to eating sourdough bread for La Brea Bakery and my dad’s grilled corn on the cob. I also realized that since I can’t be in all the locations at once I needed to teach my chefs to think the way I do. How I approach the food, my philosophy, ideals, as well as recipes.

Is there anything about Seattle’s location that’s different from others?

Chef Lee: The hand folded origami lanterns/light show are only in Seattle but having the ability to change the color of the room, is pretty amazing. We plan to recreate the light show experience in future locations. Also, not all the locations have a separate whisky bar. All the of locations feature the six standard pieces of nigiri, and the rest of the menu features as much local shellfish and fish as possible, so clearly, Seattle is a standout.

Inside an exclusive sushi restaurant with dimmed lights.

The omakase experience is $165 per person, and you can also order paired cocktails or add on a course or two at the end of your dinner. Want a seat at this table? Plan ahead—reservations open the first of the month at 10am. Click for reservations.

Photos of a special after dinner drink.

Story by Ethan Chung & photographs by Suzi Pratt.

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