Ginza Japanese Restaurant
103 102nd Ave. SE
Bellevue WA 98004
Japanese in Old Bellevue
By: Steve G
When people hear the name Ginza, most people usually identify it with the upscale shopping district in the Chuo ward in Tokyo. With all of its posh restaurants and high-end retailers, it is commonly used as a set for movies. The Ginza that we are referring to resides an entire ocean away in Bellevue, WA. While they do bear the same name, it doesn’t quite live up to the expectation set by the original ginza in terms of ambiance, as they have a more modest setting. But if you put that minor point aside, Ginza will serve you some of the best sushi and Japanese food in Bellevue hands down.
Ginza is another of those diamonds in the rough, being considerably hard to find and buried in the most unlikely of places: Old Bellevue. Hidden behind the clothing store Christi’s On Main, is the non-descript location of Ginza. And if the location was not hard enough to find, Ginza also has some most eccentric hours with only 2 ½ hours of operation for lunch before closing down and reopening for a four hour window for dinner. On the weekends, they are open an extra half-hour. While the hours might seem a bit quirky, patrons tolerate it because the food is just too good to pass up on.
As we entered the door, we scanned the entire room taking in the Japanese décor. Sporting a clean, modern look with many yellows, blacks, and whites, the restaurant has a predominantly bright look. Ginza also offers two tatami rooms for a more authentic experience, but during our visit we just wanted to test the food, so we opted for the regular seating.
We ordered Katsu Curry and Black Cod Kazasuke, which both came with miso soup and we also ordered one Dragon roll just to get a taste of the sushi. The katsu curry was well breaded with panko (breadcrumbs) , had an orangey-brown color and tasted very crisp and dry while the chicken was still moist and tender. The Black Cod Kazasuke was served with a large serving of salad and was served as a fillet. As we took our first bite into it, the fish was very tender and had a buttery aftertaste to it. There was no sign of it being overcooked or burnt as the fish tasted very moist. The Dragon roll consisted of eel, avocado, and shrimp prepared with a sweet and tangy sauce. The shrimp and eel were fresh and had no telltale signs of being old or processed.
From the moment we entered Ginza, the staff were very friendly. Within a few minutes of arriving, we were seated, given a hot towel to clean our hands with, and offered the option of forks or chopsticks for our meal. Our orders came relatively quickly, and throughout our whole experience, Ginza maintained a great, welcoming atmosphere. Typically the meals will set you back around $12-20 with one entrée dish and a roll of sushi. These prices are pretty standard for what you would find with other Japanese restaurants. While the prices may be standard, the quality of food is above and beyond that.