Sayonara Union, Buenos Dias Japonessa

A Sushi bar with Latino flair will replace Ethan Stowell’s iconic Downtown eatery.

By Jessica Voelker June 9, 2010

No more.

“Japonesa” means “Japanese lady” in Spanish. I know this because when I lived in Madrid, men would always call out to a beautiful friend of mine using that word. She is Chinese.

Japonesa is also the name of the new restaurant taking over the Union space downtown at the corner of 1st and Union.

Well, actually, the restaurant will be called Japonessa. “We added one more ‘S’ just because is looks better,” says part-owner Jason Koh. He was one of the original Wasabi Bistro partners, and he opened iSushi in Issaquah. The last time you saw him, Jason Koh may have been suggesting a mouth guard to help with your teeth-grinding issues. Jason Koh has a dental practice in Renton.

The hope is to open Japonessa Sushi Cucina in mid-July. “I would say our food is 90 percent Japanese and about 10 percent Latino fusion,” says Koh. "The fusion [is] mainly in the marinades and sauces that will be made by Chef/owner Billy Beach.”

Billy Beach, once of Umi Sake House, was one of the original owners of Belltown’s Kushibar. He has since left that venture.

Asked to point out one dish to represent the concept, Koh offers camarones Japonessa: grilled prawns marinated in cilantro-lime marinade and spread atop a sushi roll, garnised with black-corn tortilla, cilantro, and a touch of pico de gallo.

Japonessa will pipe in Latin-themed music, and the decor is, per Koh, “modern-Japanese-contemporary-with-stone-finishes meets black-iron-chandeliers-with-organic curves.” With long hours and deep discounts, says Koh, Japonessa’s happy hour will “kick butt.”

That’s what I know.

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