Knives Out

Sushi Destination Takai by Kashiba Opens in Bellevue

Shiro Kashiba's showcase for chef Jun Takai's omakase has arrived.

By Allecia Vermillion September 8, 2022

Chef Jun Takai settles into his new counter.

Years ago, in Japan, Jun Takai bought a special knife and vowed to keep it sheathed until he could deploy it as owner of his own restaurant. This week, Shiro Kashiba’s longtime lieutenant finally laid it on a cutting board behind the 10-seat sushi counter at Takai by Kashiba. And then he got to work.

Seattle’s very own sushi legend tapped Takai to head up a new restaurant in Bellevue. The sleek result of this partnership, Takai by Kashiba, opens September 8. Its arrival seems pretty darn likely to add another star to Seattle's pantheon of great sushi and give the Eastside a new destination restaurant.

Kashiba’s wife, Ricky, created the six-foot-tall calligraphy scroll that softens the angular dining room, about half the size of Sushi Kashiba in Pike Place Market. But the sushi experience at the foot of the One88 condo tower will display Takai’s sensibility rather than his mentor’s more freewheeling, affable approach, says manager Ed Kashiba.

More than a decade ago, Kashiba recruited Takai from Tokyo to lead the team at Shiro’s, his former restaurant in Belltown. Takai later moved over to I Love Sushi in Bellevue; most regulars simply called him “Chef Jun.”

Now, he’ll captain the 10-seat sushi counter (with two other chefs) and oversee the Edomae-style omakase, plus a very small a la carte menu. A bar pours whiskey cocktails and offers a few seats for solo diners.

Takai by Kashiba has also adapted its drink pairings to suit its Bellevue environs; the restaurant offers sake and wine pairings, but also tea pairings for diners who don’t drink alcohol. On this side of Lake Washington, Dom Pérignon might surface as part of the wine pairings, depending on what's included in chef Jun's omakase. (Fitting that “takai” also means expensive in Japanese.)

Kashiba himself will make the occasional cameo, like Lin-Manuel Miranda dropping in on the Broadway Hamilton cast for funsies. But mostly, Takai will be putting that unused knife to work at last.

Takai by Kashiba is open seven days a week for dinner; you can make reservations right over here.

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