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photo credit: Nate Watters

Itsumono image
8.3

Best New Restaurants

2023

Itsumono

JapaneseBar Food

International District

$$$$Perfect For:First/Early in the Game DatesCasual Weeknight DinnerDrinks & A Light BiteEating At The BarLate Night Eats
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Imagine a party game where you draw two different dish names out of a hat—pork tonkatsu and tikka masala, gumbo and loco moco, and miso soup and risotto. Now imagine someone at the party was committed enough to cook each duo. That someone is Itsumono in the ID.

This Japanese gastropub follows a mukokuseki theme, which translates to “without nationality.” Corn cheese truffle pasta and scallion pancake birria quesadillas may sound like mash-ups generated by an AI bot that listened to 30 hours of Action Bronson, but each element works surprisingly well. The mergers are as dialed in as they are inventive and fun, and these will easily be some of the best dishes you eat all year. Case in point: when a shrimp patty meets a roux-kicked gumbo, it becomes more exciting than any individual gumbo or shrimp patty.

While not all of Itsumono's dishes follow the hybrid model, that’s the section of the menu where you should get comfortable. Go wild with pork cutlets covered in a thick sauce that tastes precisely like butter chicken, or a caesar salad made from shaved napa and topped with garlicky whipped cream. Mundane romaine, who?

Itsumono image

photo credit: Nate Watters

Itsumono image

photo credit: Nate Watters

Itsumono image

photo credit: Nate Watters

Itsumono image

photo credit: Nate Watters

Itsumono image

photo credit: Nate Watters

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Itsumono image
Itsumono image
Itsumono image
Itsumono image

Elsewhere on the always-changing menu, Itsumono’s straightforward plates feel like the food equivalent of showing up to a Halloween bash without a costume. Sure, the practice is technically allowed, but why bother? We’re talking overcooked mezze rigatoni with garden-variety bolognese, or limp cauliflower karaage. It doesn’t seem like anybody had fun with these dishes, or at least not nearly as much fun as they had with nori-dusted tater tots or Seattle dog musubi.

Food aside, another perk of Itsumono is that the masses seem to not know about it yet. The casual-but-not-too-casual dining room will inevitably have a few people pounding sparkling sake jelly shots, but there's always space for you and some friends. Even if you're booking a table for six people, you can usually secure a next-day reservation without any drama. So keep this place on your shortlist for a last-minute dinner or a first date where you don't mind having a TV playing Iron Chef in the background.

Pulling dish names out of a hat wouldn't produce pleasant results, realistically speaking. What if you got stuck with s'mores and chicken gyoza? But at Itsumono, food isn't randomly created. It's intentionally fun. Save the marshmallow dumplings for your 2am experiments at home.

Food Rundown

Sparkling Sake Jelly Shot

Sake, bubbles, and jiggles of sweet jelly all slide down in one smooth, fruity, fizzy gulp. Another round? Twist our arm.
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photo credit: Nate Watters

Salad

There’s always a bowl of leaves on the menu at Itsumono. It's worth ordering, whether you get simple mixed greens with radish and toasty sesame or a shaved napa cabbage caesar with grated parm, a vinegar-forward dressing, and a fluffy garlic whip. More whipped cream on top of vegetables, please.

Yuzu Kauliflower Karaage

These fried cauliflower hunks have a great peppery yuzu batter on the outside. We’ll only warn that the dredging is paper-thin. So when piled in a bowl, they steam up and lose crispness fast. There are more exciting snacks to be had here anyway.
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Hamachi Crudo

Itsumono can do junk food well. But they also nail more delicate stuff, like buttery amberjack sashimi arranged in a rosette. Nuoc cham adds some welcome funk.
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photo credit: Nate Watters

Ginger Scallop Risotto

Itsumono’s silky risotto competes with the version your favorite Italian restaurant makes. Whether it's miso soup-style with soft tofu and grassy raw scallions or topped with humongous seared scallops, it’ll be the best dish you eat here. Mandatory.
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photo credit: Nate Watters

Tikka Tonkatsu Don

Think katsu curry, only instead of the classic Japanese sauce, this crackly pork cutlet has tikka masala puree on top that's buttery and thin like a blended tomato soup. Get this dish every time.
Itsumono image

photo credit: Nate Watters

Loco Moco Scotch Egg

A scotch egg made with burger meat is inarguably a great idea, up there with GPS navigation and surprise album drops. And even though we love a big bite of rice saturated with egg yolk, mayo-y mac salad, chili oil, and brown gravy, all of that moisture negates the fryer’s hard work. Order this if you’re in the mood for breaded ground beef, just prepare for said breading to have lost its crunch by the time you bite in.

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