Grab-and-go snacks can be hit or miss. Seattle dogs after a DJ set at Neumos? Hit. Boxed tuna salad sandwiches at the airport? Miss. Umami Kushi, on the other hand, is not just a hit. This Rainier Beach shop serves some of the best ready-to-eat takeout in the city, by way of panko-coated, deep-fried okazu pan. These savory stuffed pastries make for a $7-or-under lunch that’s just as quick as it is tasty.
The dough succeeds on its own, with a crackle on the outside and donut-like airiness on the inside. But then it gets packed with fillings like chicken adobo, beef curry, and smoked salmon in a potato cream sauce topped with furikake, which makes choosing a favorite as emotionally challenging as picking the cutest dog in a box full of newborn puppies. The limited specials are where Umami Kushi gets creative, though, and the experiments pay off. Those specials end up being our favorites, particularly the pan loaded with tangy crumbled pork and garlicky homemade kimchi.
Umami Kushi also produces homemade yuzu kosho, fries up beignets on the weekends coated in everything from cocoa powder to strawberry dust, and offers yakitori catering. (Kushi means “skewer” in Japanese, after all.) But the stars of the show are those okazu pan, whether you get them in Rainier Beach, at Umami's other location at Metier Brewing in the CD, or out of the pastry case from a local cafe like Coffeeholic House or The Station. We'd even bet they'd be a great snack to bring to the airport. (Sorry, tuna sandwich.)
Pork Kimchi Pan
The pork kimchi pan is the best thing in the building. It comes full of tangy pork that doesn’t play second fiddle to the pastry as well as excellent garlic-packed kimchi.
Cajun Chicken Pan
Packed with spicy pulled chicken and wrapped in green-stained pastry made from jalapeño water, the dough has a barely-there bell pepper flavor going on that pairs perfectly with all that cajun spice. Any pan that involves infused dough is a winner, and this one’s no exception.
Beef Curry Pan
Order this pan if you’re a classic curry fan. It makes for a solid, albeit slightly underwhelming snack.
Jerk Chicken Pan
Umami Kushi’s jerk chicken pan is not spicy, so if you love jerk chicken but don’t love setting your mouth aflame, this should be your order. It's topped with a sweet roasted plantain that you can leave on top or peel off for dessert.