Capitol Hill food+drink | Kukai Ramen — and its roasted bone broth — opens on E Pine

Jessmin Lau (Image: CHS)

Jessmin Lau (Image: CHS)

A Japanese import part of an ongoing wave of new Asian-flavored eateries joining Capitol Hill’s burgeoning restaurant scene has softly opened on E Pine this week.

Kukai Ramen and Izakaya Capitol Hill, the third of the Japanese-born restaurants to open in the Pacific Northwest and part of what the company’s founders hope will be many more in North America, debuted over the weekend and is continuing reservation-only service through the rest of the week leading up to a full-on opening Thursday.

Jessmin Lau, a co-owner of the company leading Kukai’s North American expansion, tells CHS what you’ll want to experience at the ramen bar are the noodles, of course — but especially with the Kukai broth made of roasted bones for a fuller, richer meaty flavor.

For anybody who has already tried the Northgate or Bellevue locations, you might be interested to know Kukai is rolling out a new menu along with the E Pine opening that includes a few new ramen bowls as well as some additions to the izakaya offerings. Prices run from $8 for a bowl of the simpler Shio Ramen to $12 for the tonkatsu varieties (“Extra Rich. Limited Quantity Everyday,” the menu notes). A full bar is coming but for now you’ll find only beer, wine, and sake. The izakaya comes in around $7 a plate.

The Kukai space is part of the new construction in the Three20 Apartments building at 320 E Pine. Wood staves evoking Japanese Temples — or maybe chopsticks — fill the walls while large murals of Japanese deities watch over the slurping in front of the open kitchen.

CHS reported on the Seattle plans for Kookai (as the chain of 20+ restaurants is known in Japan) last September. Kukai Capitol Hill joins Canadian-born Suika which opened up E Pine in December as dedicated izakaya providers in the neighborhood. Meanwhile, ramen offerings also include Broadway’s Samurai Noodle and Kaisho — the Boom Noodle replacement at 12th and Pike. Meanwhile, Trove’s “fourplex” of concepts also includes a noodle bar.

Kukai Ramen and Izakaya is open by reservation only up to Thursday’s opening. You can find it at 320 E Pine. Hours will be 11 AM to 2:30 PM and 5 to 9:30 PM Monday through Thursday, and 11 AM to 10 PM Friday through Sunday. Learn more at

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