By Heather Koski
| Dining by the rules |
--A Tempermental, yet tasty meal at the Grouchy Chef--
Upon arriving at 4433 Russell Rd., potential Grouchy Chef diners might think they made a wrong turn: a grey warehouse and nearly deserted parking lot dimly lit by flickering lights don’t appear to be a likely location for a fine-dining establishment. A red logo of a stern chef on the side of the building indicates otherwise. Diners are not greeted by owner and chef Takayuki Masumoto upon entering, but rather by a large sign that tells them to sit on the wooden benches, not stand or linger in the entrance, until they’re called to the counter to confirm their reservation. Not only are reservations required, but diners are expected to arrive early and never late. Welcome to the Grouchy Chef!
Once Chef Masumoto points out where you should sit, diners receive the menu in a binder of laminated pages of three different languages: English, French and Japanese. Between menu items, there are curt instructions of what to do and what not to do, including “Do not toast the glass goblets; they might break,” “Do not wipe your mouth with the cloth napkins; use paper napkins instead” and “Do not blow your nose at the table; use the washroom.” When Chef Masumoto arrives to take diners’ orders, he reiterates and emphasizes the importance of his rules. He also collects the bill in cash, without tips, before the meal is served.
“No frills, no substitutions and no outside food or beverages” sets a somewhat serious ambiance for one’s dining experience; however, any grumpiness can easily be overlooked with the first bite of the four-course meal. A colorful plate of fresh-cut fruit, tossed salad and chopped spreads accompanied with crostini introduces diners’ paletes to what promises to be a savory meal. A rich, creamy bisque soup follows the salad, and creates anticipation for the main entrée, which is the only course of the meal that diners can choose. An extensive list of beef, poultry and fish with the choice of a starch gives diners a wide variety of meal selections that Chef Masumoto makes to order while waiting on other diners. Each entrée includes wasabi zucchini pieces, which adds a Japanese kick. The meal concludes with bite-size decadent desserts; a sweet finish to a notably delicious meal.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the Grouchy Chef is the chef himself: he’s a one-man show. He serves, cooks, cleans and runs his entire restaurant single-handedly. He comes and goes through his kitchen quietly and intentionally, timing orders in sync with his customers’ arrivals. Despite Chef Masumoto’s numerous rules, he maintains an increasingly large and loyal clientele, as evidenced by the pictures of his customers wearing Grouchy Chef T-shirts displayed on his restaurant walls. His dedication to his craft gives diners a unique, enjoyable, but somewhat grouchy, dining experience.
The Grouchy Chef | 4433 Russell Rd., Ste. 113, Mukilteo | 425.493.9754