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Feb 9, 2012 12:04 PM

Teriyaki: The Best of a Local Phenomenon

"Seattle specialty - Teriyaki (needs a thread here)" -mrnelso

Absolutely! For a introduction to the genre, I think this piece is essential:

My picks:

Toshio's on Rainier Ave./Massachusetts: Pretty solid quality all-around for meats, constant turnover and high demand. The offerings extend to katsu don, curry, yakisoba etc., and you can add tempura to form a very substantial 'yaki combo with the requisite gummy rice, homemade sauce, and green salad. I also enjoy the fact that one can find people from all communities and walks of life waiting on an order here at this central location a block from I-90. The walls are covered in home-spun messages of christian humility and positivity, including the relative prices of hot sauce (25 cents) and "God sauce" (free).

Okinawa (1022 Alaskan Way): A downtown favorite, packed around lunch, for me this transcends the mediocre quality of your average spot (even if they keep bags of onions stashed in the restroom, a transgression my wife cannot forgive).

Joy Teriyaki (334 Lake City Way NE): Truth be told, I would not get teriyaki here, but instead the freshly made and locally unique mongol dishes. Very nice people too.

From the vault:

Yumiko's was a bi-monthly staple in my youth, and during undergrad I always enjoyed the unabashed Korean heat and massive portions at Tokyo Garden on the Ave. Have not had either in many years.

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  1. i second Toshio's. I've been going there since the 80s and as recent as yesterday! I tell people, its the only Teriyaki joint that has it's own parking, standalone building, and remodeled the building to have cathedral ceilings. Truly a "church" to Seattle-style Teriyaki.

    (also amazed that the Korean lady taking your order can speak fluent Spanish as well!)

    1 Reply
    1. re: shaolinLFE

      I was a big teriyaki fan in my youth, and Toshio's always had used better quality ingredients. Back in my days, it was always entertaining to watch the new UW freshmen introduce their Midwestern (or Eastern Washingtonian) visiting parents the exotic wonders of teriyaki.

      Actually, it's not too unusual to meet Spanish-speaking Koreans (or Chinese). Many of them migrate to Latin America for a few years in order to hop to the front of the line for immigration to the States as there are much more lax racial quotas there for immigration. While they're waiting, they open up businesses and their kids grow up with the local culture. I knew at least 10 Asians at UW while I was there who came from Brazil and spoke Portuguese and Spanish fluently. And even more from Panama.

    2. FYI, Okinawa has moved to the corner of Spring & Western, about a block from its old Alaskan Way location.

      1. I've enjoyed the Mongolian food at Joy Teriyaki as well. For teriyaki, though, my vote goes to Teriyaki 1st in the U District.

        1. I look forward to trying Toshio' go to is Teriyaki Madness on 15th on the Hill...not so much for the classic teriyaki (which is good / not amazing) but for their (Japanese style) curry chicken, which is good and cheap and plentiful to a fault. And isn't that what Teriyaki is all about?

          1. Has anyone been to the newish (opened last Dec.) Toshi's Teriyaki Grill in downtown Renton? I just read about it last week and haven't had a chance to get over there yet.

            Its run by Toshi Kasahara, he is the guy that started the Teriyaki craze here in Seattle when he opened the first Toshi's back in 1976.

            I know what's for lunch this Saturday.



            1 Reply
            1. re: duvelusa

              I always loved the old Toshi's by Green Lake where they would pull a half chicken out of a giant pot of teriyaki marinade, grill it and serve it with rice and cole slaw for about $3.50. I haven't had any as good since. Though when it sold and became Yasuko's it did keep the same quality for quite a while.

              I might have to make a trip down to Renton.