For the November Best New Restaurants issue, in addition to ranking Seattle’s 10 Best New Restaurants, Food and Dining editor Allison Scheff and I wanted this issue to focus on emerging talents: the chefs, bartenders and other members of our dining and drink community who are poised to become the next big names.
A fantastic concept, right? However, tracking these tastemakers on a magazine production schedule posed a few challenges, namely the fact that these men and women still continue to change and innovate even as the magazine went to press. We had a few last-minute additions, such as the fact that Rachel Marshall of Rachel’s Ginger Beer is opening a bar on Capitol Hill that will also house her production of her aggressively tasty wares. Sometimes these shifts caused wrinkles in the production process (apologies to Lucy Damkoehler for the caption that says you are the pastry chef at TASTE, when in fact you are doing wonderful things with the dessert menu at Mistral Kitchen).
Another tremendous challenge of this issue: narrowing down our top 10 restaurants from an 18-month period full of high-profile openings. Though we had to speak through a translator, I particularly enjoyed meeting pastry chef Takahito Hirai of Fuji Bakery, which has become a de facto destination every time family and friends visit Seattle. Old or young, food-obsessed or ambivalent, people never fail to be wowed by the bakery’s newer location in the International District. Additionally, it might have taken me longer to get on a ferry and dine at Hitchcock were I not working on this story, and missing out on chef Brendan McGill’s heartfelt restaurant would be a damn shame.
The only greater challenge than actually picking a restaurant: assigning them a numeric order. In selecting Sushi Kappo Tamura as this year's best new restaurant, we diverged a bit from the media love (both local and national) raining down on #2 restaurant, Revel (and also on the superb Walrus & the Carpenter for that matter). And after all, not everyone loves sushi.
But the risk is what made this selection feel right. Chef Taichi Kitamura represents the Northwest’s fantastic devotion to sourcing ingredients that are fresh and sustainable. In fact, Scheff and I got downright giddy discussing our dinners at Sushi Kappo during planning meetings. It quickly became clear that we agreed: it was the best restaurant of the year, no doubt. We hope you agree, or that you'll chime in with your opinions if you don't.