SEAReview

photo credit: Nate Watters

Sugo Hand Roll Bar review image
8.2

Sugo Hand Roll Bar

$$$$

2001 Western Ave #110, Seattle
Earn 3X Points

In a city that lacks both high-end sushi lunch options and Downtown seafood restaurants that aren’t all crab cakes and halibut, we’re glad we have Sugo. This Japanese spot serves excellent handrolls layered with quality fish, and it works well whether you’re walking around Pike Place by yourself or planning a dinner date with a couple of friends.

For a four-sided counter that looks like it belongs at a busy airport terminal, Sugo’s dining room feels equal parts relaxing and exciting, between the Alesso tunes in the background and blowtorches lighting up king salmon on a pink Himalayan salt block. Get some chilled sake, fill out the ordering card at your seat, and you’ll be off to the races.

Sugo Hand Roll Bar review image

photo credit: Nate Watters

A meal at Sugo is a whirlwind of delicious handrolls with fillings that are simple and effective, like sesame-forward ahi poke with chili threads, marinated ikura, and shredded snow crab splashed with spicy mayo. There are more elevated toppings, like seared wagyu with uni and caviar, or melty chopped otoro with fresh scallion, but don’t assume that those are automatically better than the basic ones though—our advice is to go with what you usually gravitate towards. Each crisp sheet of nori is wrapped around ever-so-warm rice and raw fish with polished precision, and these handrolls make for a superb waterfront seafood meal if you’re not in the mood for Market Grill or Jack’s Fish Spot

While you should come here prioritizing the fish handrolls, there are some worthy detours. You can build a really satisfying plant-based meal, with vegetarian options like truffled mashed avocado dotted with tempura crunchies, fried green beans, and crispy battered tofu alongside sweet onion shavings and pea shoots. There are also tasty appetizers if you’re really hungry. The seared sashimi is a non-negotiable starter, and other snacks include panko-breaded shrimp on a miso soup shooter, and tempura nori chips topped with masago, tomato, eel sauce, and Beecher’s cheese, which sounds like an excessive disaster but really works.

The only downside to ordering small plates is that you might experience timing issues. Much like the Grocery Outlet Bargain Market radio jingle during a long drive, these handrolls start coming whether you’re ready or not. We’re talking like right after you order and even before you can finish your appetizers. You’re then left with a difficult choice of letting your handrolls get soggy or having your starters grow cold. You could also be left stranded without the next temaki—or the check—for 15 minutes. 

But these end up being minor complaints. In fact, we encourage you to stay for a while if you can. Go ahead, order another seaweed-wrapped bundle of scallops. This isn’t actually an airport terminal, after all.

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Food Rundown

Seared Ora King Salmon Sashimi

Always kick things off with sashimi at Sugo. Topped with savory ikura and a sneaky pinch of lemon salt, the trio of seared king salmon pieces is the best appetizer here.

Norichos

Raise your eyebrows at the list of ingredients if you will, but puffy tempura nori chips topped with masago, diced tomato, scallion, eel sauce, and about a block's worth of grated jerk-spiced Beecher’s cheese just works. But much like actual nachos, it’s considerably heavy, so we’d only order this again if we’re with a big group or are super hungry. Otherwise, save room for handrolls.

Miso Soup Shooter

The crispy prawn that comes with this shot glass of miso soup is as delicious, crunchy, and as satisfying as any fried piece of shrimp. The shooter is good too, but the vessel is small, so you might end up leaving chunks of tofu and seaweed in the bottom of the cup.

Sugo Hand Roll Bar review image

photo credit: Nate Watters

Hawaiian Poke Handroll

This is Sugo’s best handroll. The sesame-soy marinade does a stellar job of soaking into the tender tuna without overpowering it, and there’s sweet onion and red chili threads for a bit of sharpness. Don’t leave without one, even though the tiny cubes of fish make it tough to eat—we may or may not have spilled some in our shoe.

Sugo Hand Roll Bar review image

photo credit: Nate Watters

Sugo Spicy Tuna Handroll

The ground tuna and squeeze of spicy mayo is wonderful on its own, but then they go and add pickled daikon for crunch and tang. Along with warm sushi rice and crackly nori, you can’t get a better basic handroll than this.

Sugo Hand Roll Bar review image

photo credit: Nate Watters

Truffle Avocado Handroll

This handroll is filled with extra ripe and smashed avocado, the perfect amount of truffle oil, and tempura crunchies for some welcome texture. It’d be even better if the avocado came in firm slices instead of a mash, but it’s still a great vegan option.

Sugo Hand Roll Bar review image

photo credit: Nate Watters

Crispy Tofu Handroll

Another A+ vegetarian option, this tempura-battered tofu spear is served alongside shaved onion and microgreens. Drizzle it with some soy sauce to amp up the salt a bit.

Sugo Hand Roll Bar review image

photo credit: Nate Watters

Blue Fin Otoro Handroll

It’s not always available, but when it is, do not skip this buttery tuna belly loaded with fresh scallions.

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