An Open Letter to Bigot Diners

Dear Customers,

We are honored that you have decided to dine at Mashiko.  We know that there are many fine restaurants in Seattle, so we thank you for the opportunity to serve you.

The thing that saddens us is that some of our customers are bigots.  This letter is address to them.  To everyone else, thanks for not being a bigot.

To the bigoted diners:  We find your ignorant comments to our staff offensive.  When you then post them online, you prove to the entire world how cowardly and small you are.  Our main points of contention are as follows:

1)            We are a Japanese restaurant because we serve Japanese food.  And yes, we have Japanese ownership.  We also have several employees of Japanese descent.  But that shouldn’t matter.  By claiming that there are no Japanese people working at Mashiko, you are not only incorrect, you are also demonstrating what a racist you are.  Would you refuse service at an Irish pub if your server didn’t speak with a fanciful brogue?  You do realize that sometimes people in this great big melting pot may not have a look that reflects their genetic makeup.  Do you also insist on DNA tests wherever you go?  Of course not.  Stop being an ignorant racist.

2)            Why yes, we do have a female sushi chef.  She also happens to be Caucasian.  Her name is Mariah Kmitta, and we are blessed to have her behind our sushi bar.  Mariah has been wowing customers at Mashiko for over 12 years.  She has an amazing following of devoted customers who only dine with us when Mariah is working.  If you know Hajime, you know he is one picky son of a bitch.  He entrusts Mariah because she has earned his respect.  Mariah comes to work each night eager to share exciting new textures and flavors with you.  Should you refuse her fare based on her gender or race, you are an absolute fool.

The funny thing is that our non-Japanese chefs know that they are being so overly scrutinized, and therefore they study and grow more than most chefs out there.  Trust us – we’ve had many Japanese men working here that had to be fired because they relied on their gender and race instead of making amazing food.

We are sorry to carry on like this, but this discrimination nonsense has got to stop.  Seriously.  It is ruining so many wonderful things all across the world.  Can’t we start at home by making an example that race, gender, and sexual orientation truly do not matter?

Since 1994, Mashiko has always been a non-discriminatory establishment.  All are welcome here.  So even if you don’t like our food, can’t you at least agree that we might be right about this one thing?




Filed under Education

135 responses to “An Open Letter to Bigot Diners

  1. Beautifully written. And sad that it had to be said.

  2. Wow, I had no idea that there were folks saying such cr@p about what is one of the most innovative, if not one of the best, Japanese restaurants in Seattle. My wife and I are huge fans of Ms. Kmitta. Why do these haters even come here? There’s always Benihana, or Panda Express for them!

  3. Awesome. Glad you said it, Mashiko.

    And really, giving Mariah grief? The last time my wife and I were there, we sat at the bar, and she was personable and talkative and never missed a beat with her hands or her knife. (I mean do you want to make the one with the knife angry? Really?)

  4. Bounced your way by a friend’s link on facebook, and I thank you for reminding me that some establishments, as well as some individuals, don’t put up with bigotry. I live in a part of the world where bigotry in a variety of flavors is an inundation, and being reminded that some places speak up against it makes my life better.


  5. Mikaila Gawryn

    Mashiko — This letter rocks; thanks for standing up and speaking out for respect! Can’t wait to dine with you guys next time I’m in Seattle!

  6. WOW- Good for you! Well and clearly said. Thanks for calling bigotry what it is!

  7. This makes another restaurant I have yet to visit.

  8. connie

    Beautifully written & a bold move on Mashiko’s part. Sad that I was late on discovering their omakase & need to make the one hour drive more often. Bravo Mashiko … !

  9. Beautiful. Let us all call out racism and bigotry whenever and wherever it rears its ugly, hateful head.

    • Jaye

      I agree. It is so critical that enlightened and concerned citizens disgusted and frustrated by ongoing racism open their mouths and say something. Don’t wait until you are “personally” impacted by bigotry. Speak up when you are in any situation (home, work, school, etc.) where racist comments are being tossed around like a dinner salad. We won’t “overcome” racism and bigotry if people keep quiet because of fear or are hesitant to honestly call a spade a spade. If it smells and feels like racisim, challenge it.

  10. J. Crotto

    I will now be dining at this establishment because I love the message and support this restaurant is showing their staff and community. Thank you for speaking out against any sort of bigotry.

  11. David Turnipseed

    Amen Mashiko brothers and sisters.

  12. Kevin

    So very sad that the comments were so frequent and blatant to have to write this eloquently written response.

    I have throughly enjoyed Mashiko many, many times – always at the sushi bar and 85% of those times with Mariah as the main Sushi chef. Each time has been spot on and a great experience.

    Does it matter her ethnic background?? Absolutely NOT, her skills as a chef and her great personality won me over.

    Looking forward to the next visit –


  13. Tako 4-ever

    We live in West Seattle and will ONLY eat sushi at Mashiko. We always sit at the sushi bar. We know both Hajime and Mariah Kmitta. Hajime is a picky SOB and would never compromise the standards he has set at the restaurant. Mariah Kmitta is definitely one of THE BEST sushi chefs I have ever met. And I have eaten A LOT of sushi in my life. I am grateful to have such a fine restaurant so close by. I am also grateful that I was not sitting next to those bigots when they spoke….had I been, I can assure you that they would have tasted my sashimi in a very unpleasant way. Mariah – YOU ARE AWESOME!! Hajime – Arigatō for this post. Yet, another reason we love you. See you soon!

    • Anonymous

      Very well said. My husband and I agree with every single word you have written. We LOVE the place, we LOVE Mariah, Hajime and every other chef, cook and the wait staff that we encounter. We don’t eat sushi anywhere else either. Thank you Mashiko!

  14. Harry

    Unfortunately there are some A-hole racists who only see their limited prospective world in one dimension. Its because their evolution is no better than their ancestor Cro-Magnon, big head and little brain. It may be fitting if they go back into their cages where they belong until they evolve pass the stage of bigotry!

  15. Anonymous

    The leader/creator of a business creates a culture that becomes the character of that business. Hajime never expects anything from anyone he is not prepared to do or meet. He expects excellence and delivers it. He says what he thinks without apology. You can accept or reject it as you see fit. In my experience that is a rare quality.
    I am honored to call him friend and delighted to occasionally share a kitchen with him .

    Diane LaVonne (owner/chef) – Diane’s Market Kitchen

  16. As a Vietnamese American aspiring to someday has his own pizza joint, Amen!

  17. RobinT

    Sad it had to be said. But glad it was said and so eloquently! Thanks!

  18. R. K. MacPherson

    This is so awesome I will come out there to eat as soon as I get home from Japan. See you in November and thanks for spreading such a worthy message!

  19. One more reason why Mashiko is our favorite restaurant.

    We are rapidly moving into a time when passion and craftsmanship are far, far more significant than racial heritage, gender, and sexual orientation. Bigotry is pathetically outdated.

  20. Julia

    Well written, eloquent and to the point. It’s sad that it’s a point that needs to be made, but thank you for standing up against bigotry and ignorance. Can’t wait to come back and enjoy dinner at Mashiko!

  21. I’ve never actually eaten here, but I think I will give it a shot. Really spot on letter. =)

  22. Andrei

    Next time I will find myself in West Seattle, will make sure that I visited your place. I really pity the folks who trying to apply they racial/sexual prejudice to fooding. At the end of the day they are going to be the biggest losers.

  23. Jon

    I’m here via a West Seattle friend’s facebook posting. I’ve never eaten at Mashiko, but after reading this it’s now my next restaurant destination: If the food is half as good as the writing, I’m going to be one hell of a happy diner. Arigato.

  24. I remember back when Mariah was hired at Mashiko. She has never failed to amaze me with her food skills, and her dry wit is as wonderful as Hajime’s. Different — and wonderful. I’ve taken dozens of people there, and will continue to do so. And I join the chorus of applause for Hajime’s well-spoken and passionate tired. He’s one picky SOB, but he’s our picky SOB!

    • Eliot

      In my town we have sushi made by Beijingese, Chinese food made by Saigonese and Indian food made by Newari from Kathmandu. Would you be horrified to find a Chef of German background in a french Restaurant’s Kitchen? Should she only cooken Bratwurst, Sauerkraut und so.

  25. That “Caucasian Woman” recently prepared for me the best sushi dinner I have ever had, on either coast.

  26. Anonymous

    Just shared this on Facebook with the comment

    “The next time I find myself in Seattle, I am going to go eat here.
    Not just because they are well spoken of, but because they are well spoken…”

  27. Anonymous

    The next time I find myself in Seattle, I am going to go eat here.

    Not just because they are well spoken of, but because they are well spoken…

    • TheOtherDude

      Make sure you call ahead for reservations, or you will wait an hour or so.

      • Sushikat

        That’s actually not half bad for such an outstanding sushi restaurant. When Claim Jumper first opened up in Temecula CA years ago, I believe the wait for a long time was two or three hours. I honestly expected a longer wait without reservation for a place like this.

  28. Reblogged this on raincoaster and commented:
    A very nice piece on bigotry and ethnic dining. I should share this on the food blog, too.

  29. I live in England so will never have the pleasure of dining at Mashiko. However, I do love sushi and sashimi and PEOPLE. Since when did you *have* to be Japanese to work at a Japanese restaurant and be an excellent chef/server? As long as the food I’m served is good and the service is friendly I don’t care if the staff are purple with pink spots! And neither, bigots, should you.

    An excellent letter.

  30. Anonymous

    What is this in response to?

    • This is in response to an ugly, ongoing trend of people who think their brand of bigotry is somehow acceptable. We hear their comments made shamelessly to us while we are working. We read their cowardly comments posted in various places online. We watch them walk out of our restaurant when they decide our chefs and servers are the “wrong” race or gender.

  31. justanobservation

    The review was on Yelp and the acct was just created, she has only 3 reviews in 3 days. I am smelling something fishy here and I don’t think its the sushi.
    Let’s say this whole thing is legit, which I doubt, the review itself does not warrant the rant.
    I think someone is trying to create a buzz here. I’ll still go back.

    • Jolene, This letter is not in response to any one incident. It is a reply to the bigotry we deal with many times each week. We wish these negative experiences were not happening. We’d rather keep focusing on sustainability and positivity!

      • I own a sushi retsaurant in Atlanta, the exact same thing happens to us as well. A LOT. if you don’t think it’s legit hop on yelp. browse around sushi resto reviews and see how often it pops up. if you’re not shocked, you might be part of the problem…

    • Jolene, as busy as Mashiko is, I seriously doubt anyone connected with the restaurant has either the time or inclination to ‘plant’ a review like this to generate ‘buzz’, as you imply. Whenever my wife & I try to get in w/o a reservation, we have a wait. But we wait anyway, ‘coz we always get the best and most innovative Japanese food in Seattle, and great service. Believe me, Mashiko isn’t hurting for business.

      This was no ‘false flag’ operation. It was simply the case of one small-minded culinary Luddite too many, and the good folks at Mashiko finally decided ‘enough is enough’, and chose to call out these hillbillies with trailer-park tastes, rather than continue to bear the slings and arrows of their thinly-veiled racism any longer.

    • Sushikat

      Do you also believe in the Illuminati?

      Just curious 🙂

  32. Lance

    I’ve had some of the best Japanese food – by Korean ownership and chefs. I’ve had some of the best Mexican food prepared by a pure “white bread” American mid-west born chef. I’ve had incredible Americana fair – by a first generation Mumbai born and raised owner and chef.
    I think expectations of an ethnic restaraunt being owned and having a full staff of that ethnic background is about as a joke as expecting a celebrity chef, like Bobby Flay or even our own Tom Douglas, to be behind the line and personally preparing our dishes and bringing them out to us with a signed menu and photo op.
    I appreciate the frankness of the letter. It was well spoken.

  33. Anonymous

    Lol…reminds me of Tora Sushi in Seaside, OR…Mexican sushi chefs who make some damn good stuff, with a lil’ tongue in cheek humor inquiring if i’d like flour or corn for my “tako”, lol. There are three sushi restaurants in the West Seattle Junction, i go to two of them regularly, Mashiko being one of them. I’ve had the privilege of watching this business grow since they opened in the 90’s. -Nicole Hansen, opening staff at original EBB location across the street. (Oh, how i miss the sushi/beer exchange, lol). 🙂

  34. Wow, I’ve enjoyed Mashiko all the many years I’ve lived in West Seattle and had no idea these kind of comments were being directed at the owners and staff! Who would pay such comments any mind?

  35. TheOtherDude

    I believe that you are wasting your time in posting this. The people you attempt to target with this very likely will never see this, and even if they do, do you think they really care? If they’re dumb enough to make these comments in public, I doubt this letter would change their ways. What you could do is reserve the right to admission, in other words, don’t let these people back in your restaurant, it’s as simple as that. Or is that the wrong thing to do? Would you rather have them come back to insult everyone in the house?
    Oh, and to the idiots who keep talking B.S.(if you are reading) WTF do you keep going here if it’s not up to your standards. Why don’t you get in a plane, fly to Tokyo, get “real” sushi served by “real Japanese” people and just stay over there. We really don’t need your kind around here.

    • JustAThought

      I agree with you about refusing service, if the offending people say something in the restaurant. I also agree that the targeted folks probably won’t read the article (and if they do, they’ll appreciate their “fame” more than the message), but there’s a chance that our sharing and liking it on social networks might bring others to some understanding of the problem. It’s also a great letter of support and encouragement for the staff.

    • Anonymous

      I live in Tokyo. Do NOT send the bigoted SOBs over here. They will have even more crap to say. They will be the rude tourists who won’t wait in line to be seated, and will loudly complain about why things in Japan aren’t done the way it is back-home.

      • Sushikat

        Honestly, I can’t say I blame you for reacting like this.

        If only we could form an island just for them so they can be bigots to each other….

    • it’s never a waste of time to stand up for your employees when they are being treated unfairly. people say these things on sites such as yelp after they have visited.

    • Sushikat

      Actually, if you look further down in the replies, you’ll find that this blog has won over at least a few new customers, and those are just the ones who bothered posting. By learning that this establishment cares enough to take a stance against bigotry to write about it, and I get the impression to act upon it based on their rules, it feels that much better to ssupport them by enjoying their fine food.

  36. Anonymous

    I applaud this establishment because they took a stance, regardless of the consequences. Many cowards would be offended. If that’s the case, I wouldn’t want to eat next to them anyway. Cheers

  37. As a former Caucasian server at several Japanese restaurants, (what can I say, I love the food) I can agree to the sentiment. You were one of the first restaurants I visited in Seattle after I moved here and have been a favorite ever since. Keep on doing what you do!

  38. Anonymous

    Your letter has found you another customer.
    Thanks for standing up for your people and you establishment.

  39. Mr Lee

    Yep. A new customer here. Lets show those a-holes.

  40. Farrah

    Well said. It’s unfortunate it needs to be said. As a proud West Seattle resident I sincerely apologize for the poor, unacceptable behavior of others. It is indeed very inappropriate.
    Hopefully you’re able to rise above and be the better person each day.
    Best wishes

  41. Pat Cecil

    Well said.

  42. Tom

    Typical cry racism to cover your own faults. One goes to an ethnic restaurant to experience authentic ethnic food. No you don’t get the proper Irish pub experience unless you have an Irishman running it from behind the bar and the server speaking with a fanciful brogue.

    While I wouldn’t refuse service at an Irish pub if I clearly had some non-Irish person for my server, I would certainly know it wasn’t in a real Irish pub and was having just a bastardized American poor imitation of one.

    Same applies to a Japanese restaurant that doesn’t even have a chef from Japan.

    • Tom, We’re sorry that you hold these antiquated views.

      And to clarify, our owner/head chef was born and raised in Japan. Not that it should matter.

    • A good chef has talent, intelligence, passion, skill and creativity existing within a brain that controls two hands, nothing more. Authenticity is lost on most diners and culture is a fantasy that can be created by any savvy business owner. What people want is magic on the tongue. If a chef can create that then the dish and the restaurant are a success. All other considerations are objectively moot.

    • Anonymous

      Hello Tom, If you think Mashiko is just a “bastardized American poor imitation of one.”, then you’ve never eaten at Mashiko. The Sushi is excellent and you should experience it before you start writing about their faults. I miss Mashiko. I live in Portland now but I used to go to Mashiko on a regular basis and the only thing I was ever disappointed in was the service and that’s only because they were VERY busy and I can understand that.

    • GW

      By this logic, there are no proper Irish pub experiences anywhere outside of Ireland. And I guess that Irish pub I went to IN IRELAND with the American bartender wasn’t really Irish either.

      But please do stay away, Tom. The wait at Mashiko is already an hour on a weeknight if you don’t have a reservation. I’d hate to have to wait even longer so you can tell Hajime how he’s doing it wrong.

    • Sushikat

      I don’t even know you Paul, and yet I find myself pitying your seeming absolute stupidity of the world of cuisine. Stupidity, in this sense, is being used in the actual definition of the word- essentially ignorance with the unwillingness to learn. I don’t feel angered or even upset, for it’s your pallette that shall be losing out on some of the most wonderful experiences in this world. Just… pity.

      I hope someday you grow up. I really do.

  43. L. A.

    Beautiful! Thank you for being willing to just come out and say it. This kind of bigotry is just unacceptable. Folks like that should just crawl under their ignorant rock and save us from the poison of their ridiculous, ancient attitudes. We are new to West Seattle and haven’t been in yet but you have officially become the next restaurant to visit on our list!

  44. James Norton

    Disturbing that this is even necessary to address. We all have to stand against this type of inhumane and ignorant behavior. If you see it or hear it then expose it, speak out against it. Silence in the face of this makes one complicit to it.

  45. Unfortunately this bigotted, misogynist, arrogant attitude persists. But if they ever visit Dallas, they better be careful. One of the best reviewed Japanese restaurants is owned by their head chef, a very skilled Caucasian female. Also, quite a few of them are owned and staffed by Koreans (not that the reviewer would be able to tell the difference), and the worst sushi chef I have encountered in 20 years is a full blood, native born Japanese male. Stereotypes are always bad news, but when they are preparing your food, it is oh so far more stupid.

  46. karl

    kudos to mashiko’s for speaking out about bigotry at their restaurant. sometimes the customer isnt right and Im glad you guys had the cojones to say something to the public. They serve the best sushi in town , hands down, And thats all that matters!

  47. Anonymous

    This is a wonderful and intelligent piece that needed to be said. I don’t even live in Seattle, it’s just home away from home to me and I’m sorry to hear you have had these issues. the next time I visit I’ll be sure to stop in.

  48. Everyone in America has been influenced by someone that they may or may not know as a ‘foreigner’. Melting Pot is the critical word here. I don’t believe people understand how cool it is to someone outside of the US, to be able to come here and start a business when the countries they were born into does not allow things like that. If you, as an American citizen don’t want to start a business for yourself, shut your pie hole and give some props to the people that actually pull it off. Don’t be jealous of success, be impressed by it. I don’t care if you don’t like it, I don’t like Americas who think that because we were born here, anyone who wasn’t is the enemy.

    I don’t even discriminate against bigots, I try and educate them. Cause when you get right down to it — it’s just stupid silliness, you dorks.

  49. Tracie

    Thank you for a well-written statement. It is truly sad that anyone even notices, let alone comments. We are all in this together, after all.

  50. BRAVO Mashiko! Your “House Rules” was the inspiration for my restaurant, The Bohemian, to have a list of our own on the back of the menu…which included “NO Sexism, NO Racism” etc…This letter should be posted on the front page of the West Seattle Herald! What a bunch of cowardly fools those people must be!

  51. Sceptical

    Are you absolutely sure that Mariah is not Japanese?

  52. Having just recently been asked, “What are you?”, I agree wholeheartedly with this. No, really, what is your heritage? I read the Joy Luck Club recently, blah blah blah. UUUUUUGGGGGHHHH. Had it not been a wedding, I may have gone the Youtube video “What kind of Asian are you?” at her.

  53. Matt

    2 words: Rick Bayless

    Mashiko rocks and oh by the way, how many other sustainable sushi joints are out there.

  54. I live in Houston and never get to Seattle anymore. But your eloquent and poignant blog makes me want to pay the air fare just to visit your restaurant. Your employees and your customers are so fortunate to have someone who cares about the important things rather than the trite. Congratulations on your success and congratulations to those staff/customers who have you in their lives.

  55. Aji Tataki

    What does it make me if I want my sushi to made by only Mariah ?

  56. hate that this even has to be said, yet you say it eloquently. I feel like making the ~3 hour drive up from Portland right now to show my support. we WILL make a point to visit on our next trip to Seattle.

  57. Tomoko

    Wow. I live in Hawaii but this is a place I must visit if I come to Seattle. Thanks, Ross, for posting this.

  58. Anonymous

    Soooo. If these people were to go to Japan and decided that, for something different they’d like to get a great French dinner at the five-star hotel they are staying in and saw that the entire kitchen was filled with Japanese chefs, would they walk out because there were no French chefs?

    • Probably. Or if not walk out, complain loudly that it isn’t “really” French. I suspect that many people are grossly ignorant of how many Japanese chefs train in the best Parisian schools. Or how many Western-based chefs have trained in Japan or under a Japanese chef.

      The quality of the food is reflected by the training, passion and commitment of the person who is the chef regardless of race or gender. That said, there are a good number of fakes out there. However, one should never assume that someone is a fake based on gender or race.

      • DaveG

        One of my favorite Sushi chefs in town is Korean. We also have Sushi restaurants with Japanese and Chinese chefs. It’s the quality and presentation that counts 🙂

  59. Wolf

    Mashiko serves not only the best sushi in Seattle, it’s all from sustainable fisheries. I have a lot of respect for Hajime and his crew. It’s incredibly sad that bigotry would show its ugly face in West Seattle. Next time, refuse service and show the racist the door!

    • Anonymous

      Not at all surprised by the racism in West Seattle. We used to have eggs thrown at our house nightly by all the neighborhood kids and their parents encouraged it. You’ll still see the “attitude” with the old timers.

  60. The only valid criteria for judging a sushi chef is the quality of the sushi. Period.

    On the eve of the anniversary of MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech, let’s remember that one of the fundamental pieces of America’s promise is the idea and hope that you will be judged on the content of your character (including your skills/talents/abilities) without reference to your “categories” — race, gender, ethnicity, religion, etc.

  61. Reblogged this on dexterhotel and commented:
    In case you thought Seattle was this PC city full of wonderful, intelligent people who have your back. Who knew? #WeDo

  62. Bravo. Finally, a little more truth about the dark blue fin underbelly of this city.

  63. Oh nicely said! And now I simply must come up there and partake in the goodness 🙂

  64. Anonymous

    Wow. I can’t believe how intense the responses to this letter are. This restaurant and some commenters act as if those “racist” diners are hate-criming people left and right. They may technically be ACTING racist but at most are just severely ignorant. Maybe they had just moved here from some small town and have less experience with diverse cultures than all you super sushi-eaters. Give people a break and have a little compassion for those who weren’t as lucky as you all to grow up in a city full of diversity, both culinary and ethnic. Don’t alienate just educate.

    • Kathy Dillon

      Kudos for supporting your staff with your eloquent letter.
      I would also like to point out many are not from a culturally diverse area or background. They need to be educated on what good sushi is.

      In the past if you wanted authentic cuisine of a specific culture or region you would most likely find it if the cook was also from the region. Now of course things are different. The most important thing above all is the quality of the food. People still have the old mindset in spite of the fact that Julia Child is has long been known as the French Chef even though she is not French.

    • Sushikat

      I was raised most my life in one of those ‘small towns’ with ‘less experience with diverse cultures’, yet what I was ignorant toward were the bigots who judge based on race when it comes to great food.

      The funny thing is, further down in the comments is one of those bigots (though at least they’re trying to change), who though well-traveled and had lived in Japan for seven years, still states that the only good sushi they’ve had was from Japanese owned and prepared restaurants.

      The problem is that most of the bigots this tends to refer to arent the ones who simply don’t know any better, but the ones who Should know better. At least from my own experiences.

  65. Richard

    One of the best sushi chefs to ever orchestrate (for lack of a better term for the dishes he created) for my dinner, was a Mexican chef named Romeo, working in a Korean owned sushi bar in L.A.
    It doesn’t matter who owns the bar, or where the chef is from, who their god is, or where they got their training – as long as the meal makes you weep from joy.

  66. Sushi Eater

    Honestly the first thing this post made me think of are the posts on restaurant review sites where people complain that a sushi restaurant is “run by Chinese” or “run by Koreans” and thus can never be as good or clean as a restaurant “run by Japanese”, or that they heard some of the waitstaff speaking to each other in Chinese therefore the food must not be authentic. Bravo for calling these bigots out.

  67. No Sushi

    Bravo. Leave race out of your business! How many times have you gone into an ethnic business and all the employees are the same race as the owner? This is America and I will defend your right to do that but that does not make it right. I will also defend your right to be a bigot but that does not mean that I think you are right. Hire the best people regardless of there race. That is the right thing to do. And post a sign: This Business Reserves the Right to Refuse Service to anyone!

  68. Amy Hughes

    Mariah – you absolutely rock and you know I love you! Keep on keeping on Chica!! Thank you for your letter Hajime it is inspiring. I will absolutely have to make it in soon to see my good & truly missed friend Mariah.

  69. JSL

    I love you all. And if/when I’m ever back out there, I’m definitely going to your restaurant.

  70. Taylor B.

    Three cheers for Chef for exposing this “soft racism” for all to see…there is too much of this kind of crap in Seattle…I have seen it in other sushi bars and other kinds of restaurants as well. Dining in a restaurant is all about the food, and the service, not skin color or ethnic origin, and if that isn’t satisfactory for some people, they should stay home.

  71. Raye

    A wonderful letter from a world-class chef. Thank you for expressing yourself so eloquently – and for serving deliciously sustainable seafood! My only quibble: “Sushi Whore” – really? I was never crazy about the name of your blog.

  72. Thanks for being so straight forward about bringing up a sensitive issue. I just read the SeaTimes article about your blog and the response on Slate. Yes racism is complex. As a white person I know doors are open to me, questions not asked, because of my color. I also know as a women that just the opposite is true. If we wait for the perfect solution we’ll have none. Ultimately the goal is appreciating each other and building a better world together. I look forward to my first visit to your restaurant, a place where I know I’ll feel welcome as a person, no matter what my color, gender or age is. More importantly, it sounds like an amazing sushi treat.

  73. Hats off to you and your staff . I know I have not been ? I shurely will come

  74. Sandy Johnson

    I have never been to your restaurant but I after reading your letter in the “Westside Weekly” I hope to soon. Thank you for speaking out against the stupidity of bigotry. .

  75. I am not a fan of sushi but I sure am a fan of yours and your attitude. The Slate posting on “appropriation” touches one of my pet peeves. My favorite Italian restaurant in Seattle is owned and operated by people of Asian descent. Food, music, art, …. in my opinion the paramount issue is “Is it done well?” If the answer is yes then ethnicity, gender, …. matter little or none. If the answer is no then ethnicity, gender, … matter little or none.

  76. Good for you, Hajime. You all serve the best sushi on earth.

  77. przxqgl

    i didn’t know that you also owned katsu burger… i go by there all the time. i’ll have to stop in… 🙂

  78. Jules

    I am traveling to there in Oct from Ithaca, NY, I can’t wait to go to your restaurant and try your wonderful food with my friend who lives there! I can’t wait to meet you !!! 🙂

  79. To be fair, I USED to be one of those “bigot diners” until I discovered Mashiko. As a result of too many disappointing experiences, I formulated my rule of dining: “If the ethnicity of the staff doesn’t match the cuisine — RUN; no good can come of this.”. Funny thing; when I first visited Mashiko over a decade ago, I wasn’t even thinking of my ‘rule’, because Hajime and Mariah’s reputation preceded them. It wasn’t until this dust-up that I even remembered my ‘rule’, and I realized that Mashiko broke it!
    It’s not ethnicity that makes the meal, it’s the passion. Thank you Hajime, Mariah, and Mashiko for teaching me an important lesson (and a darn tasty one, too!)

  80. Groc

    Well said.. and it needed to be said. My main Sushi chef here is Korean and trained in Japan. Makes excellent Sushi. Pity I’m so far away from your restaurant. It’s the food and service that matters – not race, gender or politics!

  81. shultquist

    Awesome! Thank you! Such lazy people get the miserable lives they deserve!

  82. rita

    my very elderly japan-born mother felt and spoke as the haters did. i was often mortified at sushi restaurtants. please remember, my mother was near 90 years old. i am not sure the current bigoted haters are i her age group.

  83. Anonymous

    I am Japanese and quite picky about my sushi. Doesn’t matter to me if the sushi chef is white, black, pink, purple, green or whatever color or gender…the only criteria is the end result….sushi…does it pass the bar?

    By slamming your chef, this shows how narrow minded the people are…matter of fact, send them back to the fast food places where their culinary tastes are used to and accepted and leave the high quality sushi chef of any gender or race, to folks like us, who appreciate a fine meal.

    You can’t please all the people all the time but you sure can please the people who mean something to you….

    Kudos to you for standing up for your folks.

    I used to go to Sushi-ten where one of their chef was a woman and a darn good sushi chef! She just rocked!

  84. gern

    You’re right. The quality of the food should solely be judged based on the quality of the food not the race of the staff. The best French food I’ve had is in Tokyo by Japanese chefs. Japanese have won “best pizza in the world” in competitions in Naples. So it should also be possible for non-Japanese to make great Japanese food.

    I guess I just find it hard in myself to trust a non-Japanese staffed Japanese restaurant. Having lived in Tokyo for 7 years then coming back to SF and seeing just how bad the Japanese restaurants are there whether run by Japanese or non Japanese. Same for the ones I’ve been to in Seattle though I haven’t been to yours. They’ve all been mediocre at best.

    The 3 or 4 I have been to that actually remind me of anything I’ve eaten in Japan happen to be run by Japanese people. It probably doesn’t help that I want to speak Japanese at a Japanese restaurant so if you’ve got non-Japanese staff they’d better speak Japanese. I want Ume-shu (plum wine) served as a liqueur as it is everywhere in Japan, not as a wine as it is at most places in America. I want no Teriyaki on the menu since that’s nearly impossible to find on a menu in Japan. It’s generally served at festivals, amusement parks, and road stops not restaurants. I don’t mind the California rolls (and related rolls). Just be aware those have nothing to do with Japan or Japanese food either. They’re as Japanese as CPK is Italian. They can be delicious but they’re not Japanese.

    I’ll certainly try to do better at not prejudging a restaurant based on the race of the people running it but just know it won’t be easy because it doesn’t fit my experience. I’d love to be proved wrong because I’d love to have more places to eat authentic Japanese food. Here’s hoping your place is one of those places.

  85. Anonymous

    I think more Asians would recognize whether the place is run by Japanese, Koreans, or Chinese and make remarks, whether they are snide or purely innocent.

    i.e. my wife and i frequent a Japanese restaurant that’s owned by Koreans, have Korean and Mexican sushi chefs. Their food has been great for the years we’ve eaten there. I did mention the place is owned by Koreans but that did not degenerate the experience. All I care is whether the fish is fresh and the dishes well prepared.

  86. Reblogged this on Mumbling Mike and commented:
    All Good points on discrimination – makes me sad there are so many bigots in the world.

  87. Sushikat

    Even if every other point about your restaurant- from the delicious looking menu to the fact you stick with sustainable fish supplies to the wonderful humor on your website- didn’t win us over in wanting to go there for a late Christmas celebration (which it all very much has), this particular entry would have. Thank you for proving that there are restaurants who’s integrity willnot be compomised.

    • Sushikat

      Sorry, I just wanted to do a follow-up on this. My boyfriend had reserved a seat for us at the sushi bar, where we were served by the owner. It was, bar none, the best sushi and the best service I have ever had. It was everything we hoped, and so much more.

      Needless to say, when my boyfriend moves back to Seattle in April, we’re hoping to celebrate at this wonderful restaraunt. Thanks again for holding true to all your core values and amazing job picking out such a wonderful staff. Thank you all for being so amazing. We’ve been raving to our friends ever since.

  88. I feel thankful that I haven’t run into any of the really nasty comments about Mashiko. I have, however, read a few from people who were aghast at women making sushi there, simply because it’s breaking tradition. Some traditions have merit and should, at least in part, be kept; this is not one of them. I suppose that’s a much more deeply cultural version of the American notion that cooking is only a woman’s job– but only men can barbecue. Another stupid “tradition” which needs to be kicked to the curb. Either way, Hajime, keep doing what you’re doing; in my opinion, for what it’s worth, you’ve got your head and heart in the right place on this issue as well as the sustainable seafood one. Bravo.

    P.S. I had my birthday dinner at Mashiko last year, was served by Hajime, and had a wonderful time. I think I’ll be returning this year, and requesting a night when both Hajime and Mariah are working.

  89. Well written blog. Very generous. I liked a lot.

  90. Richiem

    Hahahah this is fucking great! I’m so glad to see a restuarant, nay a business in general stand up for itself. Very seldom have a seen one take charge in the face of the customer, even if it means openly exposing such a volatile behavior I find most businesses would rather “sweep it under the rug”. Keep up the attitude.

  91. c. Bennett

    I completely agree. It’s a Shane that some Japanese sushi restaurants aren’t as fair towards Japanese and non-Japanese people as your restaurant is:

    – “Michelin-star sushi restaurant in Tokyo defends foreigner rules
    Apr. 28, 2015 – 03:50PM JST

    TOKYO —
    A top notch Michelin-starred sushi restaurant in Tokyo on Monday defended its special reservation rules for foreigners after a report in Japan it had refused to accept a booking from a Chinese customer.

    Sushi Mizutani, which has two of the coveted Michelin stars, told AFP it has an “across-the-board policy” of not accepting bookings by non-Japanese customers—unless they are made through a hotel concierge or a credit card company.

    “Non-Japanese customers may not show up for their reservations,” a member of the staff at the restaurant said, adding employees do not have the foreign language proficiency to explain requirements to patrons.

    “We prepare fish for the number of expected customers and have to turn down other requests for booking sometimes. We simply cannot afford it if people don’t show up.

    “We don’t think it is anything discriminatory,” he said.

    The confirmation came after a report that the restaurant, located in Tokyo’s glitzy Ginza district, had refused to take a reservation for Chinese journalist Mo Bangfu.

    Mo, a resident of Japan for 30 years who is fluent in Japanese, intended to host three guests at the high-end restaurant, where prices start at 20,000 yen per person, the Nikkan Gendai tabloid reported.

    The magazine said that as soon as his secretary—a Japanese woman—told the restaurant Mo’s name and contact number, the person taking the booking suddenly changed his attitude and said “some arrangements were necessary”—indicating the reservation was not acceptable.

    “We have an increasing number of cases in which people are abandoning their reservations,” a restaurant worker told AFP, adding Japanese-speaking customers are called for reconfirmation a few days before their reservation.

    The number of foreign tourists coming to Japan has rocketed in recent years as the value of the yen has fallen and as tensions have eased between Beijing and Tokyo.

    Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said he wants to attract 20 million foreign visitors a year by 2020, when Tokyo hosts the Olympics.

    Despite decades of exposure to non-Japanese tourists, many facilities, even in cosmopolitan Tokyo, have difficulties dealing with people who they assume cannot speak the language.

    Tokyo has a huge selection of top-class eateries, and regularly tops the global list for Michelin-starred restaurants.

    No one from the Michelin Guide was available for comment.”

    (Source: – )

    I’d rather eat in your restaurant, owned by fair and forward thinking staff of any ethnicity, than a “genuine” Tokyo restaurant, staffed by xenophobic/ethnocentric staff any day!

  92. Melinda

    Mashiko employees should ask those bigoted customers to leave. You don’t need their business.

    Bigots have small minds and were raised to accept their parents views.

    And why should anyone care? Everyone is there to eat and enjoy delicious food! 🍥🍡🍤🍣

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