From the team behind the Marination mini-empire, Super Six in Columbia City both amplifies and branches out from their Hawaiian-Korean roots.
When Roz Edison and Kamala Saxton launched one of Seattle’s first food trucks, Marination Mobile, it spawned a growing business dispensing Hawaiian comfort food and street snacks. There’s Marination Station on Capitol Hill and Marination Ma Kai on Alki. The newest, called simply Marination, opens this month at Sixth and Virginia near Amazonia.
All that growth created a need for a commissary kitchen. At the same time, Saxton says, “I longed for a place near home where I could go to work then just stay on for a cocktail and dinner.” That was the genesis of Super Six, a full-service restaurant and bar on Hudson Street in the heart of Columbia City.
Super Six not only provided a central kitchen, it also has an adjacent lot where the truck, “Big Blue,” can hibernate for the winter, and where the company’s delivery vans and Super Six customers can park. Open continuously from 8 a.m. daily to late, Super Six also makes the perfect office/hangout for the owners, both of whom live close by.
Super Six ★★½
3714 S. Hudson St., Seattle
Hours: dinner 4-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 4 p.m.-midnight Friday and Saturday; lunch 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday; breakfast 8-11 a.m. Monday-Friday; brunch 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday-Sunday; happy hour 3-6 p.m. daily
Prices: $$ (lunch plates $9-$14; dinner pupus and poke $4-$18, large plates $10-$21)
Drinks: full bar, “original and rebuilt” cocktails, beer, wine
Service: cheerful, outgoing staff is still getting up to speed
Parking: free in lot
Sound: loud, a bit less so upstairs
Who should go: a family-friendly place to chill out morning till late
Credit cards: Visa/MC
Access: stairs to loft seating; downstairs bar, dining room and restrooms fully accessible
Breakfast and lunch menus at Super Six have some overlap with the tacos, rice bowls and loco moco that made Marination famous. At dinner, Super Six ventures into new territory, while still exploring the multi-Asian influences on Native Hawaiian cuisine that date back to the heyday of the plantation era and the influx of migrant workers. The menu also reflects the owners’ ethnic mix: Saxton is Hawaiian; Edison’s heritage is Filipino and Chinese, though she was born in Greece.
Aware that they were stepping out of their comfort zone, the women consulted kahuna and hoaloha Mark Fuller, the Native Hawaiian chef/owner of West Seattle’s Ma’Ono. That could explain why the fried chicken wings here are so darn good. They come disjointed, about six to an order, and retain a resounding crunch even tossed with one of three sauces — searing Korean, sticky-sweet char siu or sassy ginger-soy “ono sauce.”
Fuller’s suggestion of a ham-and-pineapple Hawaiian quesadilla shocked Saxton. “Nobody from Hawaii would order Hawaiian pizza,” she says, but his version, with the brilliant touch of pickled pineapple, convinced her. A pizza snob myself, I was sold after one bite.
The quesadilla has been hugely popular. So has pastry chef Kim Mahar’s lilikoi caramel sauce. Super-sweet with a passion fruit lilt, it trickles down through a decadent sundae composed of vanilla ice cream, red velvet cake and black sesame-and-rice crunch.
A small squirt bottle of the sauce accompanies Mahar’s wonderful Portuguese malasadas, hot-from-the-fryer, sugar-dusted doughnut puffs that are available from breakfast on. Saxton says they go through countless bottles. “People are putting it on just about anything. They ask for it. We give it to them.”
Chef Chad Bergman oversees the Super Six kitchen. A former sous chef at Miller’s Guild who also worked at Mama’s Fish House on Maui, he has just the right background for executing the dinner menu’s several pokes, pupus (snacks and appetizers) and large plates.
Two of those pokes were extremely salty. Wild bay shrimp with sriracha-spiked fresh kimchi rode the saline wave better than salt-cured salmon, diced and mixed with cherry tomatoes, cilantro and serrano chilies, but overwhelming after a few bites.
Shoyu ahi, ruby-fleshed Hawaiian yellowfin, achieved just the right balance of sesame and soy sauce; chopped macadamia nuts and slivered nori added a pleasing contrast of textures.
Among the broad range of pupus, you’ll find respectable kalbi short ribs and indecently delicious Aloha fries laced with pulled kalua pork, scallions and kimchi mayo under a fried egg lid.
Hawaiian quesadilla $9
Six burger & fries $14
Shoyu ahi poke $18
Rockfish with miso demi $17
Pork ssam $21
Fries, unadorned, come with the burger. It’s a slippery devil due to house-made pickles and pungent, kalbi-marinated grilled onions tucked between the substantial patty and its soft Macrina Bakery bun.
Radish, almonds and bits of kabocha squash perk up the house green salad. Kabocha also does a star turn. Roasted to fork-tenderness, it’s awash in a sweet, sharp, spicy glaze of mango, chili and honey on a plate strewn with spiced walnuts and fresh mint.
Steamed rockfish with bok choy and mushrooms wears a miso demi-glace that hits the tongue like an umami tsunami. Braised pork shank gets its kick from gochujang, fermented chili paste. The extraordinarily tender meat comes with lettuce leaves, for wrapping it ssam-style, a scoop of rice, and three pungent condiments, among them a bracing scallion relish.
Super Six was once an auto-body shop. Its spare interior design plays whimsically on that motif. The bar dominates the ground floor; two dining areas outfitted with TVs are tucked under the rafters above. The restaurant is named after an engine designed and built a century ago by the Hudson Motor Car Company. In the 1930s, Hudson hired America’s first female automotive designer, Elizabeth Ann Thatcher. Super Six named a bourbon, guava and mint cocktail in her honor. Have one and drink a toast to trailblazing women everywhere.