Seattle’s Sweet Teriyaki Sauce || Food/Groups

Seattle’s Sweet Teriyaki Sauce || Food/Groups


– I had moved to Chicago, and then I was like talking to people and I’m like, yeah,
what’s, what’s going on with teriyaki out here? And they’re like what are you talking about (laughs)? And I’m like, what are you talking about? It was like this like Larry David-style showdown where you’re just like, you know, like, squinting at each other and hoping the music starts, you know? (upbeat music) – Teriyaki: sweet! Sticky! Born in Japan, but perfected here, in Seattle. (upbeat music) That’s right, the thick,
saccharine grilling glaze that you know and love is only nominally a Japanese creation. Modern teriyaki was pioneered
in Seattle in the ’70s, and for decades it thrived as this city’s cheap, quick alternative to franchise fast food. But times are changing
in the Emerald City. Skyscrapers are going up, new people are moving in, and, over the last 10 years, over a third of the city’s iconic teriyaki shops have closed; why? Can teriyaki, the go-to budget eats of Seattle’s grungy past, survive in the city’s glossy future? (upbeat music) We’re here to find out. (loud chattering) (upbeat music) In 2016, Thrillist published a piece by award-winning food
journalist Naomi Tomky that highlighted a grim trend
in Seattle’s food scene. All over town, venerable teriyaki shops, tiny neon gems in the fabric of the city’s robust neighborhoods
were closing for good. We stopped by her place
for a cup of coffee and a primer on Seattle’s present-day teriyaki situation. – I was born and raised in Seattle, and I love teriyaki, and grew
up eating it all the time. The piece wasn’t originally gonna be about the death of teriyaki, it was just I wanted to
write about Seattle teriyaki and why it mattered and why it was meaningful. I think Seattleites, well, people born and raised here, will always look for teriyaki and it will always be a comfort food for them. So, Toshi opened the first shop in 1976, on Queen Anne. He got himself a rice cooker and developed this chicken recipe There was nothing like it before that. (upbeat music) – I wanted to keep it small, simple. I started serving teriyaki chickens with reasonable prices so people can eat it more often. – People were really into it, people were buying it and he ended up expanding and franchising, and, at one point, he had 17 restaurants. There are still so many
restaurants that are all versions of Toshi’s teriyaki, Toshio’s teriyaki, Yoshi’s, and who even knows what is connected to him. – I know there are so
many teriyaki places now but I feel we do a good job. (upbeat music) – teriyaki in Japan, is this sort of this light sauce brushed on after seafood or something similar is cooked and I don’t know anything
about that version of teriyaki. Seattle teriyaki is this sort of heavy, almost cloyingly sweet
sauce and it’s marinated. It’s the least complicated most like mundane thing. Like the teriyaki shops. It’s not exciting in and of itself. – Yeah. – But it’s sort of a staple thing. (serene music) Knute Berger, who’s sort of a elder statesman of the
Seattle media world, had this great line in
the New York Times article where he says, Seattle
teriyaki is so ubiquitous as to be invisible. And that really stuck with me because teriyaki is always these little, tiny shops often immigrant-run. You have the locals, who have been eating it their whole lives and don’t even realize
it’s just a Seattle thing, and then you have the newcomers, who, it’s, they, they really don’t see it. It, it just doesn’t, doesn’t show up. It doesn’t scan and when something so ubiquitous as to be invisible. – Yeah.
– As he says, you don’t notice when it’s disappearing because you weren’t noticing it. – Sometimes people in a hurry but I do take time to make it good, taste good. (serene music) – Does Toshi still cook in Seattle now? – So he’s up in Mill Creek, which is about 25
minutes outside the city. He’s got this place that’s basically a throwback to the original one, just a tiny little place with him and his wife
and one other employee and they serve the, the
classic teriyaki chicken, and not a whole lot else. – When I was growing up in Japan, that was maybe 10 years old, I used to catch fish, put them on the skewers. I made my own sauce, teriyaki sauce. (upbeat music) My sauce is a little bit different. Not necessary to use that
much wine and sweet wine. That keeps it, we can keep prices down. When I started the first restaurant in, by Seattle Center, I made it affordable so people can
eat almost every day. (upbeat music) I kinda like to concentrate
on chicken thighs. I do add some ginger and fresh garlic. Marinate it in a teriyaki sauce overnight. That’s my story; maybe
I was hungry (laughs). (upbeat music) – Can you envision
Seattle without teriyaki? I mean, one of the things.
– No. – Is like this idea. – Like what’s quintessential Seattle? It’s not the, the, the chef doing the [omitted] cedar plank salmon. It’s more the teriyaki place. – Eric Rivera is a world-traveled chef born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. After gigs at Noma and Alinea, he came came back to Seattle to open addo., a private dinner club where he pushes physical and symbolic
boundaries of his meals. (serene music) He represents a version of
Seattle’s culinary future but when he’s off the clock his taste buds keep bringing him back to his childhood favorite:
teriyaki chicken. (upbeat music) You come from a world where like balance. – And the idea of like.
– Yeah. Constructing menus and
constructing recipes is very much like front of mind. – So you’re mapping it out like this. You’re looking at cold, you’re looking a little bit hot, more room temp, you’re
looking at something like a little bit more sweet and sour. I have like little bits and pieces here and I go, crunchy, I go more soft, and, then I go, some of it’s a little bit more grilled so I get a little bit, you know, color on there.
– Right. – Caramelization, you know, grill marks, and then I get in the inside, I’m like, little bit of, you know, dark meat which is nice but I mix it up with a little bit of the lighter meat. – This is what you’re describing like this is like the perfect
piece of teriyaki chicken. – It really is, you know what I mean? And that’s, that’s pretty (beep) cool. (upbeat music) – Can you improve teriyaki? Like could, you think you can? – You know, I’m, I’m a Puerto Rican kid. Where’s my get-in for that? I can put, you know, a
Jidori chicken on this and (chuckles), you know, I can pull A5 Wagyu and go, here’s your $450 teriyaki.
– Right, right. – But does that defeat the purpose of what we’re trying to do here? – Right.
– And what makes it special? – Yeah. – It’s $8.25.
– Yeah. – (laughs) You can’t beat this, you can’t beat this. – I mean it’s like almost a perfect meal. (serene music) – Two places that were very meaningful to me closed or announced their closing like as I, as we were discussing this piece. Then I started looking at it and running some numbers as best I could and I found it was about a third were gone and I was like now I have to like go
explore what happened. – Yeah. – It just, it’s hard to be in any small business, in Seattle, where you’re trying to hold real estate in a town that has the fastest-growing housing
market in the country. – And, also, two big tech
titans that are hiring more people by the day. – Like 60% of people in Seattle moved here from somewhere else and a lot of that is recent. It comes in Styrofoam, which is interesting because Seattle’s outlawed Styrofoam for
many years now (laughs). – Yeah, we’re just gonna keep doing that. – Just since I’ve written this article, I’ve had Seattleites come to me and say, oh my gosh, this is a
thing that’s disappearing. Like I love teriyaki. I grew up eating that. We can’t let that happen. (upbeat music) – But if Seattleites don’t wanna let teriyaki disappear on their watch, they’ll need to talk openly about how it fits into their changing city. So we called up some locals do just that over beers at Fremont
Brewing’s Urban Beer Garden. – I’m Nancy Leson; I’m the food commentator for KNKX Radio, and I was the longtime restaurant critic and food writer for the Seattle Times. – Eula Scott Bynoe and I host a local podcast called
Hella Black Hella Seattle, and, so, our main goal is to like, you know, help people of color get out and be more, you know,
involved in Seattle. We have such dollar-value that we wanna spend places but we don’t know how, sometimes. – My name’s, Shota Nakajima. I’m the chef/owner of Adana. I was born in Japan, I moved to Seattle when I
was in elementary school. I grew up with Toshi’s son, like their whole family, we’re
good family friends. – I was a waitress for a long time and I worked at a
restaurant at Green Lake. Before I get to work,
I go around the corner to Toshi’s and, for, I mean, at the time it was like $4.50.
– Right. – You can get this enormous thing of teriyaki and rice. Sometimes we were just like, two of us, would share it. (upbeat music) – Once you get into high school here, like, it’s like lunch. You know what I mean? So you’re going all the time. Like our black, like,
like food is teriyaki. It’s so affordable, you
get so much food for it. – You guys feel like in Seattle, in 2017, that holds up; is teriyaki.
– No. – Still what Seattle is? – I don’t think so. Seattle used to be a really
small town, really small town. And as the transplants come in with their, with their added wealth, they don’t really need to
spend like $5.00 on a plate when they have, you know, $45 like a, budgeted for the meal. – People are more careful about what they’re eating. It’s just not the sustainably raised organic chicken. – That free and.
– Right. – With the way people eat now where they want every
plate to be like a foodie picturesque thing, like
and teriyaki is like, it’s chicken with sauce on top and like on top of rice.
– Yeah. – And like really sweet, you know, for some people, who are like, oh, it’s just so, so sweet, it’s like. – Can you (mumbles)?
– That’s the point. – Yeah.
– Like it’s, it’s like this, you know, it’s a weird
sweet/savory thing. (upbeat music) – I guess ’cause I’m a restaurateur and I own the restaurant and I’m Japanese, I feel like sometimes the trend goes to like authentic Japanese food and that’s kinda what I was focusing on two years ago but, with any kind of food, any kind of culture,
everything evolves but, for me, like teriyaki in Seattle it’s just supposed to be there in like a weird, weird conscious. (upbeat music) – Do you guys think that teriyaki has a place in Seattle’s future? – Maybe, maybe; I’m not sure. – Our immigrant populations are coming largely from Asia, and I think we’re always
gonna have teriyaki somewhere. – Yeah. – I lived in Japan. I like went to a few different cities but, you know, I come back here and there’s teriyaki and it’s one of those like comforting
things that I see. – I mean, it’s our cheap eats. It’s our cultural cheap eats. It’s the one thing that like, you know, feels very unique to us. It’s important, I think, to
have things that make you feel like your place is different from other places because of the way everything is becoming more similar, you know? (upbeat music) – I think it’s here to stay in the Pacific Northwest. Whether or not they can afford to stay in Seattle proper is yet to be seen. You can’t put that kind of thing back in the box once it’s, once it’s been created. – If teriyaki won’t go back in the box, where will it go? Seattle’s transforming too fast to say with certainty but in the midst of change, a small constant can be a big comfort and to some Seattleites, that’s what teriyaki’s been all along. (upbeat music)

100 Replies to “Seattle’s Sweet Teriyaki Sauce || Food/Groups

  1. As if people can ever sleep on some quality food for such a low price. I'm a fatass, but if I'm gonna be fat I'd sooner get some decent chicken than go to McDonalds and get a junior chicken….most of the time 😉

  2. I watched this video with my mother and though we both enjoyed it, she couldn't stop complaining that there was no broccoli. Eat your greens, kids.

  3. I grew up in Seattle, moved away for about 15 years, and when I came back was surprised by how few teriyaki places were left. I survived in college on takeout teriyaki! Our culinary scene continues to evolve… there are more pho places, more good bbq places, still a ton of Thai places. I think there is probably room for a higher-end takeout teriyaki place too… I hope someone gives it a shot!

  4. theres about 5 decent teriyaki spots in the sodo/ georgetown areas of seattle. teriyaki isnt going anywhere as long as we have people working hard in our industrial neighborhoods. everybody's gotta eat

  5. Osaka Teriyaki, on the corner of 1st and Pike. Anyone who knew Downtown Seattle knew this place. SCARIYAKI! A world class pit, filthy, infested with criminals, but some of the finest and cheapest teriyaki served in generous proportions Seattle has ever tasted. Unfortunately it has closed and I left Seattle, But like many other Seattle institutions of past it lives on in our memories.

  6. I find this intresting because I'm about 100 miles North of Seattle and we've pretty much always had a teriyaki place here. In a town of 15,000.

  7. I live in Seattle, and the teriyaki here is so good! But like 5 years ago my favorite place closed and I havent found a place quite as good

  8. 1/3 of them have closed because 1/3 of them are terrible. Rents have raised and they haven't been able to keep business as prices have increased and only the good ones are around.

  9. I usually choose chicken over beef which isn't juicy in flight. One day, a flight attendant came close and asked, "Beef or chicken teriyaki?" I was ready to say, "Chicken, please." as usual but hesitated that time because it must be fake teriyaki. Then, she began to explain the recipe and taste of teriyaki. I interrupted her and said, "I know Japanese authentic teriyaki." but she insisted, "Teriyaki is American food!"

  10. Visiting Seattle, and I made the trip to Mill Creek today to meet Mr Toshi and to enjoy his amazing teriyaki. The best I've ever had, so amazing. Thank you for pointing me in the right direction

  11. I've lived in Seattle for over twenty years, and a month that doesn't include a dish or two of teriyaki is like a day without sunshine. Wait, that might not be the best analogy for the PNW. A day without a light, mist-like drizzle?

    Anyway, I think there's more to teriyaki spots disappearing than just "tech bros moving to Seattle, more money, less interest in invisible, cheap food." Yes, that definitely plays into it, as does dramatically rising rent, but I think a lot of it is the specific immigrant groups that were running these shops (some Japanese Americans, in more recent years mainly Korean Americans) are getting older and retiring, and they want a different life for their kids. They worked 15 hour days on food prep, manning the grill, taking orders, cleaning, bookkeeping, stocking, so that their kids didn't have to. New immigrants are filling the niche, but they're bringing their own cultural food preferences with them.

    Tastes and fads change, too. When I first moved to Seattle in 1996, the exotic "ethnic cuisine" of choice was Thai food. You couldn't throw a fish without hitting six Thai restaurants, and everyone had their favorite two or three places. A few years ago it was pho that was all the rage, then Ethiopian, the last year or two it's been poke and Korean. Pok Pok inspired Issan and street food Thai has made a resurgence.

    All of that said, I completely agree with the spirit of the video — Teriyaki is Seattle's comfort food, and I hope it never goes away.

  12. See gentrification and migration is what kills traditions and those mom and pops shop that people loved growing up with. Now you have these hipsters and ultra sjws moving into big cities and scraping culture.

  13. When I visited Seattle last year, my girlfriend and I were in the mood for some Asian relatively late one night. One of her relatives suggested we just order some teriyaki. I was confused because here on the east coast that’s just a sauce that may or may not be on the menu. I was blown away with how much food I got for 8 bucks. It was so delicious, too. It is very basic but you really can’t beat it. Really enjoyed my stay in Seattle. The locals were good people, despite being seahawks fans.

  14. In 2015 I saw the closing of one Seattle's oldest teriyaki restaurants in downtown Seattle. Grungy old place that had delicious food at an affordable price. Building was getting renovated so they kicked everyone out. Damn shame.

  15. Wtf is that bitch talking about teriyaki is going away? There on every fucking corner in western Washington, how bout you get your yuppie ass outta the city for once and you’ll see.

  16. Fuckman, I grew up eating a bunch of this and I thought it was everywhere. Left Seattle and sure enough, it was easy to find Chinese but where's the $9.00 giant container of teriyaki and rice?

  17. Teriyaki chicken and rice, will forever be my go o meal! In college, in the navy, and now as a man with his own business. I'm never going to turn away on a meal that held me down many broke nights of my life lol!

  18. Never knew Seattle had such a teriyaki scene. How could something so delicious as teriyaki chicken die out?

  19. Honestly Seattle teriyaki just has a different vibe than other cities'…and its better honestly compared to the stuff I have here in the 626

  20. The people who want to save teriyaki are the one's to kill it.. Minimum wage laws, environmental laws and just general leftist elitism will kill just about anything good….

  21. Wow.. I'm Norwegian and I remember eating teriyaki when I visited relatives in Seattle back in 06, when I was 11. Totally forgot about it! This brings back so many memories 😀

  22. Having moved to Idaho from Seattle, I miss good teriyaki so much. It’s not the same out here. When I’ve been back to the city my favorite places have still been open, so I’m not sure about all this closing is they talk about. Maybe the market got to be too saturated.

  23. I'm going to toshi's for the first time today for lunch. The only reason I noticed this place is my grandmother is named toshi

  24. Upon my arrival here 25 years ago, everywhere I looked on the ride to my friend's place were teriyaki and coffee joints.

    Our first meal out was teriyaki at a place that no longer exists on S. Jackson.
    It's been a comfort food for us over the years.
    Glad to see Toshi is still at the helm and going strong.

    BTW…that one chef that ate w/the host of the video seems like a world class jagoff.
    Get over yourself, you put your chonies on like the rest of the world does.

  25. I live in Oregon and have my whole life we do have quite a few teriyaki places here, but never realized it was a PNW thing, this makes me sad as its delicious and the cost is almost always so worth it.

  26. In San Bernardino Ca. Theirs a pl. Called Seattles Best Teriyaki. Never been there,but it’s there. On Hospitality Lane.

  27. another possible reason, i speculate, is that the influx of korean immigrants with their inexperienced, temperamental attitude toward business has also contributed to the decline of teriyaki. koreans in general tend to jump on bandwagons and tend to follow the path of least resistance: if one person comes up with a good product, others mindlessly copy it until the market becomes saturated with that product. this phenomenon is all too common in korea, particularly in the restaurant sector. most likely what happened was, as soon as koreans got into the teriyaki business, they took over, and the mass cloning of teriyaki joints began. and in time, they saturated the market, the quality of the food went to shit, while at the same time, rent went up, naturally driving up the price of what was once considered a cheap eat. who the hell wants to pay over $10 for shit food?? i'd say more than half the teriyaki joints in town suck nowadays. as a korean myself, i'm ashamed.

  28. guys,……. the styrofoam is not the problem. if the chicken was anywhere as near as good and non autism causing as it is in japan we could keep it alive.

  29. Teriyaki has died because Seattle is dying. Plain and simple. The homeless masses can't afford teriyaki and the middle class workers are barely holding on. Most live outside of Seattle proper. Most of the people that live in Seattle with money to spend, moved TO Seattle, they weren't born there. They didn't grow up eating the fast teriyaki, they couldn't care less if it died out. It was just another "cheap chinese" to them.

  30. Teriyaki will never die in WA, but it might in Seattle because Seattle fucking sucks ass and is overpriced.

  31. The first time I ever had teriyaki was when I moved to Bremerton Washington in 07. Then about 8 years ago I moved back home and now I really miss it. They don't have it here which is sad because it would sell really well. It's the best thing to eat, it's what I would call comfort food right up there with mac and cheese.

  32. Was eating Teriyaki in the 60’s in Japan. Basically the same recipe and taste. Seattle version is sweeter that’s about it. They make it sound like Teriyaki is disappearing but in 2019 there’s still 5 Teriyaki joints per square mile in the greater Seattle area. Huge portion of Chicken, rice and a nice salad or fried veggies for $8 bucks. Two people can share one meal

  33. Happi House in San Jose, Cali is better. They have teriyaki sandwiches on cibatta rolls. Try it, Seattle!

  34. Seattle is dying/dead. This is just one of countless symptoms. The mere fact that Toshi is now in Mill Creek says it all.

  35. Cheap eats? No idea where you guys are getting teriyaki currently, but it's an easy 9-13 dollars for a single order including tax. That isn't cheap for a single meal by any means.

  36. Im confused, even if these new people are moving in, demand stays the same because of the people that lived there before. If demand hasn't changed then why are so many places closing?

  37. Teriyaki originated in Hawaii in the late 1800s. This is a nicely produced Seattle history piece, but it's total bullshit to say that teriyaki "originated" in Seattle.

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