Kiriba Sushi is a Japanese restaurant inside a rickety old house with yellow siding up in Shoreline. This is no ordinary old house though - it happens to be one of our favorite places for a quick sushi lunch or dinner. That’s because it’s a little off the beaten path and still serves excellent, reasonably-priced nigiri and rolls that rival any casual sushi spot in the city.
It’s very peaceful inside Kiriba. The restaurant feels quiet even when it’s packed since there aren’t that many tables, sweeping jazz piano covers play over the speakers, and the booths are comfortable enough to take a nap in. The servers are incredibly friendly, too, and will actually thank you after dropping off some ice water or miso soup.
This isn’t the best sushi you’ll ever eat, but for the price, it’s a pretty terrific value. If you order one of the chef’s combinations, which include a couple of rolls and lots of nigiri, a meal will run you around $20. Even if you don’t go that route, there’s a ton of variety on the menu to create your own meal. Choose from a long list of nigiri, sashimi, gunkanmaki (rice topped with fish and wrapped with a seaweed belt), and deep-fried rolls that aren’t just 85% tempura batter. Whatever you order, you should have a great, well-rounded meal for under $30 per person.
Since the sushi menu is so diverse, there’s something that’ll work for everyone. An order of seared albacore, which is marinated in ponzu, or yellowtail nigiri could please someone who loves an expensive omakase. Anybody who hates raw fish will be thrilled with the white tiger roll, filled with shrimp tempura and topped with a torched piece of parmesan-crusted escolar. Even if you just eat six pieces of the tender seared salmon belly, you’ll walk away feeling satisfied.
Unfortunately, there’s a large selection of the menu dedicated to non-sushi things you should avoid. This mainly includes udon and teriyaki, but there’s also a lot of handroll options - all of them with soggy nori.
Even though this sushi isn’t going to change your life, we’d go out of our way just to come to Kiriba over other casual spots Downtown or on Capitol Hill. Next time you want to relax and enjoy a set of nigiri or a spicy tuna roll, drive up Greenwood Avenue, hang a right on 145th, and stop at Kiriba. You’ll feel like you’re at home, and you don’t even have to do the dishes.
Seared Albacore: The albacore is marinated in ponzu and seared around the edges. And even though this piece is torched, it’s still rare in the middle and very delicious.
Seared Salmon Toro: The salmon belly nigiri has a nice char, a sweet white sauce on top, and the middle is perfectly rare. Don’t leave without one.
Tuna: Even though the tuna’s reasonably-priced, it’s sometimes sliced way too thin.
Salmon: Ordering any kind of salmon here is going to be a good idea - their salmon nigiri is tender and buttery.
The best part of this shrimp tempura roll is the topping: a slice of escolar and a crust of torched parmesan cheese. This preparation could even make a styrofoam packing peanut taste good.
A battered and fried sushi roll kind of sounds like a blasphemous grease trap. This one is light and crispy, filled with tangy miso-marinated fish inside, and topped with a spicy red sauce.
We like Kiriba’s combination of minced tuna, tobiko, finely chopped green onions, and a heavy drizzle of spicy mayo. It’s on the saltier side, so try a bite before dunking in soy sauce.