Shota Nakajima | Visit Seattle

ON RESTAURANT DESIGN AS AN ART FORM

I’ve always been into art, and designing my restaurant spaces is almost like having my own gallery. I wanted Taku (Nakajima’s dive bar serving karrage, Japanese fried chicken; 706 E Pike St; takuseattle.com) to feel like you’ve walked into a narrow alley bar in Japan where you can grab some food and a drink before heading to another place. In Japan, we call it hashigo – eating on a scale: grab a bite, have a drink, and jump to the next bar.

ON HER LITTLE LOCAL FOOD AND DRINK LIST

I feel like I’m back in Japan when I’m there [Seattle’s] Chinatown-International District—it’s very communal and people know each other. I’ve been to Uwajimaya (*600 Fifth Ave S; uwajimaya.com) once a week since I was a kid, when I got free fortune cookies while shopping with my mom. I like older places like Kau Kau Restaurant (656 S King St; kaukaubbq.com), and Gan Bei (670 S Weller St; facebook.com/ganbeiseattle) and Itsumono (610 Jackson St; itsumonoseattle.wixsite.com/ home) are my favorite places to take Dodger.

ON HOW HE SPENDS HIS DAYS OFF

I like to show nature when people come from out of town – Taylor Shellfish (*2182 Chuckanut Dr; taylorshellfishfarms.com) near Bellingham is a great place, and Hama Hama Oysters (*35846 N US Hwy 101; hamahamaoysters.com) is an amazing place to watch the sunrise (I’m in the morning). Dodger and I also like to run and forage for mushrooms along Forest Service roads off I-90 and hike Tiger Mountain in Issaquah. If I had a free tomorrow, I would probably drive up to Mt Rainier and the car camp, and spend the next day exploring the mountain.

ON RECEIVING THE CALL FROM TOP CHEF

I didn’t know if I was ready. But I slept on it and realized being scared was probably a good sign. My mentor tells me that success often means being uncomfortable. So I decided it was time to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

* Visit Seattle Partner

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