In a start to 2017 full of closures around Capitol Hill, Shota Nakajima’s next move at 15th and Pine is a reboot, not a shuttering. After Sunday, his meticulous 10-course Japanese kaiseki Naka is gone. Then, work can begin on what comes next for the chef/owner and first-time restaurateur who we will soon have to refer to as a second-time, a little wiser, a little more settled-in restaurateur.
“I like moving forward, I like changes,” Nakajima tells CHS “Owning a restaurant, I’ve learned a lot about Capitol Hill.”
Adana, informed by a year of upscale business in the neighborhood and Nakajima’s move into his restaurant’s immediate neighborhood, will open later this winter with a refresh of the space and a simpler take on the fussy, detail-oriented preparations at the core of what Naka had been. The name is Japanese for “nickname,” a play on what came before. If Naka was Nakajima’s kaiseki alter-ego of sorts, Adana is a new face for the same character.
Adana will offer a $37 three-course menu of classic Japanese set up with diners selecting from nine choices and dishes still based around Nakajima’s focus on quality, as local as possible ingredients, but with less fuss and a more comfortable approach. The Seattle Met called it a “chef’s twist” on the food he grew up with. Comfort will also take over the bar where favorite katsu sandwiches will be a holdover along with quality drinking food like yakisoba. The restaurant will shift to literally being an every day spot, open seven days a week. The space itself will be softened up with a new wood bar-top and a bar roof added to the area to get everyone cozy as a new wall goes in above the dining area to break the space up and make room to display Nakajima’s own artwork.
The young chef now lives above his restaurant with his neighbors as sometime customers. His goal with Adana is to see those neighbors more.
“There is a big trend,” Nakajima said, “where it is extremely split — either really fine dining or really simple.” As for the upscale end of things, Nakajima said he’s not sure Capitol Hill is the best place for that.
So, gone are the piles of caviar and the flakes of gold that sometimes speckled Naka’s dishes. Adana will feature a pared down version of the Japanese menu with many of Naka’s favorite entrees and bar dishes simplified. You can still expect a few flakes of gold here and there with kaiseki pop-ups and Nakajima’s fondness for special Japanese whiskeys keeping the bar dotted with one of a kind bottles for the neighborhood. But the day in, day out of his venture will change and with it, the price points will lower. No more $20 cocktails. $8? $10? Maybe, $12? Sure.
Nakajima’s restaurant debuted at 15th and Pine in June 2015. “I don’t care if 999 people don’t — as long as one person notices, that’s what matters,” the Suji Culinary Arts School-trained chef told CHS at the time about his attention to detail and focus on the particulars. Naka inherited its buildout — and the zinc bar — from the French restaurant that lasted about a year and a half before it in the space. Instead of leaving Capitol Hill behind, Nakajima is getting ready for his second opening in his home neighborhood.
“I am simplifying everything. Simplifying labor, simplifying food,” Nakajima said. “But I haven’t given up on what I wanted to do.”
Naka will serve its final meals through Sunday, January 29th. Adana will open in a few weeks at 1449 E Pine. You can check out adanaseattle.com to learn more.
Capitol Hill food+drink
- Closures? January has been a tough one. Good Citizen? Being replaced by a school. Let it Bean? Maybe the Broadway shack has seen its final run. Dilettante? Leaving Capitol Hill. Clever Dunne’s? Being replaced by the Hula Hula Lounge. 19th Ave E’s Ernest Loves Agnes? Being replaced by ???. Broadcast Coffee? Being replaced by Ghost Note. And, of course, Charlie’s started it off with its abrupt early January shuttering.
- At least we still have Optimism. The neighborhood brewery celebrated one year and 250,000 pints.
- BREAKING DIM SUM DECLARATIONS: Seattle Times says 14/Pine’s Regent has some of the best dim sum in Seattle: “I’m going to go out on a dim-sum limb and say the quality here rivals Richmond.”
- Lark sibling Southpaw opened to end 2016 in its big sister’s original 12th Ave home. The pizza joint has settled in and is celebrating is grand opening next week with free slices:
After a couple months getting settled into the neighborhood, Southpaw is ready for a party! On Friday, February 3, Southpaw will be offering free slices until the dough runs out. There will be four types of pie on offer:Uppercut with mozzarella, basil, Grana parmesan, and tomato sauce
Contender with basil green chickpea pesto, feta cheese, cumin, and caramelized onions
Title Fight with wild mushroom, lardo, roasted garlic, thyme, arugula, and tomato sauce
And the special grand opening pie is the TKO with pancetta, potato, rosemary, caramelized onion, truffled pecorino, and white sauce
- Omega Ouzeri is about to turn two — and is adding “Greek brunch”–
Athenians might grab a bougatsa and espresso to go, but we hope Seattlites will linger over braised lamb with baked eggs and gigantes, and share with friends a peinerli filled with pastourmas and kasseri. Favorite dinner menu items will find their way onto the brunch menu; such as, the triada of spreads: tzatziki, fava, and melitzanosalata; octopus salad; and lavraki. Greek Bloody Mary’s, and fresh juice mimosas will round out the menu. And don’t worry, there will be bougatsa too.
- Also celebrating two years on the Hill is 11th Ave’s Stout. Party is on Monday, January 30th: “We will be offering offering HAPPY HOUR ALL DAY + every guest who visits STOUT will be entered to win a New Belgium Brewing logo’d corn hole game!”
- Volunteer Park Cafe has a new pastry chef:
Chef Ericka Burke is excited to add pastry chef Erin Barnard to the Volunteer Park Cafe crew. Originally from Ames, Iowa, Barnard moved to Seattle two years ago and started working at Bakery Nouveau. She began in the front of the house, but Barnard had grown up baking with her mother and she really wanted to get in the kitchen. She soon did, and dove into French pastry before moving on to a position at Macrina. Most recently Barnard worked at Mamnoon, focusing on plated desserts, and she’s excited to bring some new ideas to Volunteer Park Cafe’s dessert program. A self-taught chef like Burke, Barnard gets inspiration from classic desserts and treats like maple buttermilk pie and cinnamon rolls as well as interesting seasonal flavors. She’s looking forward to putting the garden to use in the spring and playing with some creative flavors and ingredients like lilac and tahini. Barnard also likes making playful desserts—a recent star was a chocolate mousse served with foamed crema in a cappuccino cup, topped with little meringue mushrooms and cocoa nibs. And as soon as the sun comes back, she’s planning on making some amazing ice cream sandwiches, like salty shortbread with buttermilk rhubarb ice cream, lemon cookies with lavender honey ice cream, and a play on a PB&J with peanut butter caramel cookies and fruity ice cream! Drop by to snag a pear almond tart out of the pastry case—or a slice of Meyer lemon cheesecake after dinner—and welcome Barnard to VPC!
- Sigh. Portable. Sigh. “Portable bone broth feels like the halfway point between two of our civic staples—coffee and pho…” Also, today I learned Monsoon will serve you a soup cocktail.
- You’ll soon see new food safety ’emoji’ on Capitol Hill restaurants.
- “The cream cheese-slathered hot dog is Seattle’s second-grungiest contribution…”
- Now open in the CD near 25th and Jackson: Wood Shop BBQ.
- Heather Earnhardt of Capitol Hill’s Wandering Goose is deeply involved with husband Zac Young’s coming to Hillman City Young Bros. Smoked Fish Company.