In 2020 just before the coronavirus hit, CHS reported on the plans for Aki Kushiyaki to open in new development along E Madison in what was expected to be a meaty wave of grill concepts to open around Capitol Hill.
One pandemic later, the binchotan charcoal-fired restaurant is now open with a $129 per person set menu that offers diners a two-hour experience in modern Japanese cuisine — yes, meat on sticks.
The kushiyaki experience is all about the skewers and the grill. Aki Kushiyaki’s menu includes a selection of chicken, duck, lamb, wagyu beef. Preparation is key with delicately skewered chicken thighs and bacon wrapped tomatoes.
But the most important ingredient is the charcoal. Sunny Ho, a veteran restaurateur whose other partnerships include Tukwila’s Arashi Ramen, told CHS last year the key to kushiyaki is high quality charcoal that burns extra hot.
The multi-coursed omakase restaurant is part of ongoing big changes on this part of E Madison where the Central District and Capitol Hill meet. The mixed-use Avant building it calls home replaced a former Firestone tire garage at the corner across from the neighborhood’s Safeway.
Aki Kushiyaki stands there as a bit of a fine dining island though Surrell in the former Crush house is only a block or so away.
It doesn’t stand alone in that meaty wave we waited for in 2020 though things haven’t played out exactly as planned. Meet Korean BBQ opened early last year in the former Trove space on E Pike, Shota Nakajima’s kushikatsu bar Taku has been on hiatus during COVID-19 restrictions and Nakajima’s turn on Top Chef, and Ishoni Yakiniku’s “Japanese barbecue” has been on hold despite a partly completed buildout replacing a Tex Mex joint on Broadway. Meanwhile, Japanese katsu will be the centerpiece when Kobuta and Ookami Katsu and Sake House opens soon in new construction on 15th Ave E.
Aki Kushiyaki is now open at 2106 E Madison and offering dine-in service. You can learn more at akikushiyaki.com.
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