Look who turned 20 this month: Fort St. George. That’s arthritic in restaurant years. But not for this Japanese pub. It still struts in the Chinatown International District. It had its phases — anime and Japanese patrons in A Flock of Seagulls-style hairdos were my favorites.
Trends come and go here, but its spaghetti with garlic mayonnaise will always be with us. That was St. George’s beloved dish a decade ago when it was a smoky room filled with comic books and Japanese hipsters with blond hair. (It was a hangout of former Mariners pitcher Kazuhiro Sasaki, too.)
It’s still a popular dish, with young Uniqlo worshippers and the mainstream who have discovered the bar through social media. Fort St. George is now a hangout for Seahawk fans during tailgating hours.
To the uninitiated, the menu looks like it was concocted by a child who made his own after-school snack without adult supervision. There’s ketchup-flavored chicken fried rice with omelet; hamburger steak dressed up in several variations from curry to soy sauce; and the famous spaghetti dish.
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It’s comfort food done with a Japanese sensibility.
The portions are generous. The juicy hamburger steak — think Salisbury steak — is more than a half-pound and sits on a bed of al dente spaghetti. And if you get it with tomato sauce, it’s not much different from spaghetti and meatballs. Better, though, is that pasta with meat sauce, topped with garlic mayo for a rich, buttery texture. It’s aromatic and addicting.
At the bar, the usual suspects — Kirin and Sapporo — are showcased, though the can of Asahi Super Dry beer is your best bet. Or order the Japanese whiskey if it’s not sold out. You can order it with club soda like they do in Tokyo. But Fort St. George offers the most generous pour of Yamazaki 12-year in this city. I like mine neat, filled to the rim, a bit over 2 ounces, for only $10.
Fort St. George, 601 S. King St. (second floor), offers happy hour 3-6 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays and again 10-11:30 p.m. with $1 off on the house sake, wine and bottled beer, and $2-$5 appetizers (206-382-0662 or fortstgeorgeseattle.com).
Tan Vinh: 206-515-5656 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @tanvinhseattle