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Food from the Sea(ttle)

Crowdsourced is a series that challenges zealous adventurers to explore Seattle – but without their phones or research beforehand. Our first host ate his way through the city and discovered Seattle’s true love: its seafood.

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We sent travelers on a whirlwind journey to discover Seattle’s rich culture and history. The catch? No phones, no planning, no research. Armed with only a notebook and a Polaroid camera to record the experience, our fearless sightseers could only rely on the recommendations of Seattleites to guide their adventure.

Mike Greenfield lives in Brooklyn, NY, and is the co-host of the hit YouTube cooking channel Brothers Green Eats. He and his brother Josh are known for their approachable take on cooking shows, transforming even your humble ramen packets into fine dining. As Brothers Green Eats has grown, the siblings have taken on new food challenges.

Seattle’s waterfront location, commercial ports, and species only found in the PNW make it an obvious destination for great-tasting seafood. We tasked Mike to dive into how seafood defines Seattle’s food identity. His 48-hour adventure led him to find the best stuff and where it came from. Here’s his story.

“I would never go to a place having done zero research, especially not having looked up the best restaurants in a city. This was a huge challenge for me.”

I had no idea what the food culture was like in Seattle, but I figured that its prime location on the water meant lots of seafood. I was told I had to visit Taylor Shellfish Farms to see how they supply the city, and country, with oysters and shellfish straight from the sea. Why not start at the source of Seattle’s amazing seafood scene?

Taylor Shellfish

Imagine 50 million oysters coming off the line — that’s about how many bivalves Taylor Shellfish harvests in a single year. That makes the five-generation family-owned company the largest shellfish purveyor in the PNW. Case in point: If you’re eating an oyster, mussel, or clam in Seattle, chances are good that it came from a Taylor Shellfish farm.

I thought I knew farms, but I’ve never seen an operation like this. We got to go out in low tide and pick up the shellfish by hand before they’re picked up in crates. To see where oysters come from, and the dedication of this family-owned farm to keeping Seattle’s waters clean, was incredible. I got to learn about the roots of Seattle’s food scene before experiencing, and tasting, it.

Taylor Shellfish Oyster Bar

After the tour of the farm I went to the oyster bar in Capitol Hill and had a raw platter. You’d never expect a 100-year-old farm to own and operate a trendy oyster bar like this. The staff and the oyster expert — like a sommelier for shellfish — explained all of the tasting notes of the oysters and blew my mind.

Pike Place Fish Market

I love going to markets when I travel, and everyone told me to see Pike Place Fish Market in action. The “flying fish” helped put it on the map. In the 1980s, the owner, John Yokoyama, came up with the idea for fishmongers to throw fish to customers as a way to save the business, near bankruptcy. When Seattle hosted the Goodwill Games, tourists like me caught on to the flying fish and couldn’t get enough of it.

Fun fact: There is no fish-throwing training for fishmongers, but they do use a “practice fish” daily, which is then donated to the local zoo for bears to dine on.

Fishermen’s Terminal

I was told to walk to the Fishermen’s Terminal, one of the busiest ports in Seattle. It’s a real working port: Fishermen take meetings here before they head out to sea, sometimes for months on end. Even the guys from Deadliest Catch come through this port. It’s a completely different side of Seattle I would have never seen.

Shiro’s

The one recommendation I heard over and over again? Go to Shiro’s if you want amazing sushi. I heard the chef apprenticed for Jiro — like from Jiro Dreams of Sushi. You would not believe what this unassuming sushi joint is serving: They source a mix of local seafood, plus seafood flown in from Tokyo Bay. Called “Edomae style,” they use local seafood prepared in traditional Japanese methods.

Omakase means, roughly, “I trust you.” I had an omakase tasting menu, and wow, you could just taste the difference. Each dish was so simple, but the intricate details and flavors stood out. My favorite was the toro; it’s the underbelly of the tuna and is like butter with its melt-in-your-mouth flavor.

What was so cool about Shiro’s was meeting Shiro’s manager and his team of chefs. They really invest in their chefs and their training because learning how to make sushi really is learning an artform.

In my travels, I saw not only the love Seattleites feel for their city, but also their clean waters. Their devotion to sustainable fishing has anchored Seattle as a food destination, with some of the freshest seafood you can only find here.

Had I not followed the advice of locals, I would have never understood Seattle’s deep connection to the sea.

Here’s where Seattleites told me to go.

Our itinerary of stops, mapped.

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