The interior may be sparse, but you’ll find a solid selection of Japanese dishes at Moon’s Handmade Japanese Kitchen — and your Instagram followers will appreciate the flower-pot ice cream.
In Japan, it’s not rare for a restaurant to specialize in one specific thing — the menu consisting of just ramen, katsu or sushi. But at this Belltown spot on Fourth Avenue between Blanchard and Bell, the menu is a hit list of Japanese favorites: katsu, ramen, teriyaki and yakisoba.
Once you slip in off the street, the interior seems pretty bare bones for a spot open since early April (in the space vacated by Bell Thai), but that only keeps the focus on the food. This translates into a window-filled dining room stocked with simple glass-topped tables and chairs amid slightly drab yellow walls and complete with ambient music plinking along at a fairly low volume. Service is cheery and quick, which is especially helpful if you’ve got a limited amount of time for lunch or dinner.
The menu: A wide variety of Japanese favorites. Small plates include the requisite edamame, gyoza and karaage as well as takoyaki and tempura. There’s also ramen, yakisoba, teriyaki, katsu and (in keeping with the times) a poke bowl. Dessert offers the real Instagram bait with a flower-pot-ice-cream dish, complete with chocolate rocks, gummy worms and shovel-shaped spoons. Soft drinks, tea and juices round out the beverage options for now, but the menu promises beer, wine and warm sake to be coming soon.
Moon’s Handmade Japanese Kitchen
2211 Fourth Ave. (Belltown), Seattle; 11 a.m. -2:30 p.m., 4:30-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, closed Sunday; 206-420-1302
Don’t miss: The chicken karaage, which featured flavorful thighs coated in the thinnest wisp of batter and drizzled with sweet katsu sauce and spicy mayo. The tonkotsu shoyu ramen comes with an incredibly rich pork broth and a nice, thick slice of tender pork chashu amid tendrils of seaweed and a soy-cured egg. Not only was the teriyaki chicken a massive portion — which included a sunny egg, a cup of rich miso soup, a standard iceberg salad and two generous scoops of rice — it had just the right amount of crunchy, caramelized bits and a teriyaki glaze that wasn’t cloying. The flower pot with green-tea ice cream might seem a little gimmicky, but the smooth green tea works so well against the crushed chocolate cookies, and chocolate rocks (basically beefed-up M&M’s) are always welcome.
What to skip: The tsuyu sauce with the agedashi tofu had way too much sugar and not enough dashi, and the Moon’s Signature salad dressing, billed as “kiwi fruit,” was a gloppy, sugar-laden affair, while the honey miso seemed to be missing the miso. Stick with the sesame.
Prices: Agedashi tofu ($4), karaage ($5), shoyu ramen ($10.95), chicken teriyaki ($9.50) and a flower pot ice cream ($5.95) totaled $35.40 and produced enough food to stuff two people with the added benefit of leftovers.