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March 22, 2017

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5 Things to Know as Naka Makes the Shift to Adana

February 22, 2017


30 Under 30 winner Shota Nakajima opened his kaiseki restaurant Naka in Capitol Hill in June 2015. Shortly after, the accolades started rolling in for the young, Japanese-trained chef as all of Seattle clamored to the sleek spot for the multicourse seasonal dinners that define the kaiseki experience. However, this past January, Nakajima announced he would be closing Naka and rebooting it as Adana. Scheduled to open Wednesday, February 22, here’s everything to know before you go.


1. There will still be courses
Nakajima said his biggest reason behind making the shift from Naka to Adana (which means "nickname") is that he was yearning for regulars — and not just from a business standpoint. “From a ‘hey, it’s good to see you again kind of thing,’” he says. This means throwing high-dollar kaiseki menus out the window and bringing in a more affordable option. However, Nakajima cautions that his taste buds and methodology didn’t change overnight. That means diners can expect the same visually stunning dishes, but with a bit more focus on Japanese comfort food. When Adana opens, there will be a three-course dinner option available, except now it will cost $37.


2. Chris Hoey is the new executive chef
Although the staff is staying the same, Nakajima has named Chris Hoey as executive chef. This means Nakajima will no longer be chained behind the line, writing every menu. Instead, expect to see him working the floor, bringing out dishes and chatting up customers. It also leaves the door open for side projects, something he says he's interested in.


3. Cheap drinks abound
Bartender Dustin Haarstad will still be leading the bar program, and there will still be a focus on Japanese whiskey — many of which are exclusive in Seattle to this space. However, Nakajima says instead of $12 to $16 cocktails, the emphasis will be on those ranging from $8 to $12. Additionally, there will be a separate bar menu that will include casual items like a katsu sandwich that was teased at Naka before its closure. “It’s honestly my favorite thing. I ate it three times a week when I lived in Japan,” Nakajima says.


4. Expect a more casual interior
Things had been slowly changing at Naka in the months before it closed. Carpet was added in the dining room alongside new chairs and curtains. The reason for closing was to accommodate a larger remodel of the bar area — the details of which have been kept under wraps — but overall the space will feel less stark and more welcoming.


5. Get friendly

When asked what part of the change he was looking forward to the most, Nakajima replied “seeing more faces and having more people eat the food. It’s not a special-occasion place anymore.” We predict a staff that includes Nakajima offering up personalized service that looks at getting to know customers in an everyday atmosphere. Dinner will be served daily, 5–10 PM, the bar will be open from 5 PM to midnight.


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