I mentioned a few weeks ago that the restaurant scene at Lynnwood’s Alderwood Mall is heating up. It’s exciting to see the area being transformed into a vibrant and lively eating scene. While some readers’ favorite places have permanently closed at the mall, such as Claim Jumper and Panera Bread Cafe, there are many more eateries that are opening. I am highlighting two places that recently opened. I think both of them are going to be quite popular.
The Panera Bread location at the mall closed during the pandemic and two new restaurants (owned by the same company) have opened up: Kizuki-Ramen and Izakaya and Swish-Swish. The management has completely transformed the space and you would never guess that they used to be a Panera. Kizuki occupies the space facing the parking lot and is a beautiful, serene restaurant that serves traditional ramen and izakaya (side dishes). It is the 10th location in the Seattle area and is considered one of the best ramen restaurants in the U.S., with 20 locations. On the other side, directly across from REI, is Swish Swish, a gourmet hot pot restaurant that is equally beautiful. (The other location is in Bellevue.) According to the general manager, Brandon, each location has its own custom design, and the results are stunning. Both restaurants are comfortable and well laid out — no noise issues at either spot. Both locations are great places to go as a solo eater or for a family/group.
Kizuki’s philosophy is “to serve the most traditional, authentic and delicious Japanese ramen that you can possibly have without actually flying to Japan.” I brought my son with me. He lived in Japan with a Japanese host family for a year. When our food was brought to the table, he felt as if he had been transported to Japan. He became very nostalgic because the food tasted just as he remembered it while living in Japan. So many Americans think of “Instant Ramen” when they think of ramen. Kisuki offers 14 different ramen options with a wide variety of flavors and toppings. They have four different noodle types that are custom made just for them — eventually they hope to make the noodles in-house.
We had several izakaya menu items to begin our meal: house salad that included soft tofu, shredded chicken, hiziki seaweed and cucumber with a yuzu-soy-sesame dressing; chicken karaage that is deep fried chicken with a spicy mayo; and housemade crispy marinated chicken wings topped with a citrusy garlic glaze. Of the three, the karaage was my favorite — crispy without being greasy. We tried two different ramen bowls. I had the popular Yuzu Shio Ramen that includes kelp, citrus pork and chicken broth. Toppings included pork chashu, greens, bamboo shoots, seasoned soft boiled egg and pork. You can customize it by adding additional toppings. My son had the Garlic Tonkotsu Shoyu Ramen, which has an extra rich shoyu-flavored broth and lots of garlic. It had similar toppings and he added pork belly.
The broths are unctuous — having been simmered for at least 24 hours. Kizuki is renowned for its “perfect” soft-boiled egg — called Ajitsuke in Japanese — and it was a highlight of the dish. We shared a bottle of the freshly prepared Sugimoto Tea — a perfect accompaniment. The food was very filling and we ended up bringing enough home to have a second meal. The prices for the ramen are $12.50 to $16.00. Add-ons are $2 to $4 each. The izakaya range in price from $6-$12. Prices are reasonable given the amount and quality of the food. There are options for vegans, vegetarians and gluten-free diets. This is sure to become a family favorite.
In the same space but with an entry on the other side of the building (although the two restaurants are connected by a hallway and share restrooms) is Swish-Swish. The restaurant gets its name from the motion that a diner does when dipping the meat into the bowl of hot broth. Swish-Swish is a hot pot restaurant with each table outfitted with individual burners for each dinner. It is an all-you-can-eat experience with a time limit of 1.5 hours. There are two options with different pricing — one option includes Wagyu beef. It’s a complicated menu so you might want to check it out online before you go at www.swish-swish.com/menu. There is pricing for lunch and dinner as well as children 8-11 and 4-7. Top end is $40 for dinner with Wagyu and without it’s $33.
You start by choosing from 16 different broths. We selected the Szechuanese Spicy broth and the Japanese Miso broth. The list of options that you cook in the hot pot of broth are beef, seafood, meatballs and dumplings, vegetables, and rice and noodles and there is a range of dipping sauces as well. There were two of us so we chose beef rib-eye, Wagyu beef, shrimp, mussels, fish balls, pork/shrimp dumplings, quail eggs, king oyster mushrooms, woodear mushrooms, enoki mushrooms, corn, lotus root, broccoli, daikon radish, bean curd stick and bok choy. We also ordered a bowl of rice and a serving of udon noodles. We ordered a sesame dipping sauce as well. In addition, we enjoyed fried pork gyoza and sweet and sour radish.
Believe me when I say that for $40 you get so much food. You can keep ordering whatever you want whenever you want. The service was speedy and everything that came out was fresh and the meat was beautifully sliced. It is an interactive experience of cooking your veggies and meats. Everything comes to the table family style so it takes some time to figure out how to best cook the items that you ordered. Swish Swish takes their broth preparation seriously — it’s a long process similar to Kizuki’s broths. At first it felt overwhelming, but as you begin to get adjusted to the boiling broth and how long each item takes to cook it’s a fabulous experience.
The highlights for us were the quality/freshness of all of the ingredients. Our favorite hot pot items were the Wagyu beef, the head-on shrimp which reminded us of spot prawns, the pork and shrimp dumplings, and the assortment of mushrooms. There are many unusual options such as beef tongue, duck blood cake, pork intestines, beef tripe and kelp knots. This adds to the authenticity of the experience that Swish-Swish is trying to offer. We shared a Japanese Milk Tea with Tapioca — a refreshing and cold drink to counter the heat and spice of the broth. Needless to say, we left feeling very full. Since it’s an all-you-can-eat experience there are no “doggie” bags, so pace yourself and be mindful.
I think we are lucky to have Kizuki and Swish-Swish in our neighborhood. Both restaurants add to the vibrancy and diversity of the growing neighborhood.
— By Deborah Binder
Deborah Binder lives in Edmonds with her family. She is “dancing with N.E.D.” (no evidence of disease) after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2009. She is a foodie who loves to cook from scratch and share her experiments with her family and friends. She attended culinary school on the East Coast and freelances around town for local chefs. Her current interest in food is learning to eat for health and wellness, while at the same time enjoying the pleasures of the table. As Julia Child once said, “Everything in moderation including butter.” Deborah can be contacted at email@example.com.