It’s a dish where chicken meets sweet-tasting sauce along with cold-tossed salad and moist, perfectly cooked rice. It’s cheap, convenient and fast. It is also one of the famous Japanese cuisines—other than sushi and noodles—known to non-Asians. Without a doubt teriyaki is the authentic Japanese cuisine that anyone can easily enjoy and afford. I would consider it the “Japanese fast food.”

In Seattle, there are over 700 teriyaki restaurants, but only one that does “restaurant ministry” and serves its customers skin-on teriyaki chicken. Located south of the I-90 entrance on Rainier Avenue and South Massachusetts Street, Toshio’s Teriyaki has been a local favorite for ten years now.

It’s a friendly, positive restaurant established by owners James and Yoko Wang in 2002. This angular-shaped teriyaki joint serves about 200 daily customers from all over the Puget Sound area.

When asked why they are a locals’ favorite, Yoko Wang answered, “I think it’s the way we cook our chicken. It’s moist, tender and juicy. It makes us different than many of the teriyaki places.” Toshio’s customers agree.

“My favorite teriyaki place in all of Seattle!” claimed Kayan L. from Seattle on Yelp!. “Their chicken is unlike any other. Not the flimsy pieces that other places serve, but actual strips of a chicken filet with skin still on.”

Keriche C. then said, “If you want honest and yummy teriyaki (Seattle-style), you’ve found the spot.”

Yoko Wang (in foreground, center) and daughter Eri, behind Yoko, with their cooks at Toshio’s. Photo credit: Jessica Yuwanto.
Yoko Wang (in foreground, center) and daughter Eri, behind Yoko, with their cooks at Toshio’s. Photo credit: Jessica Yuwanto.

James and Yoko Wang are veterans in the restaurant business, having worked in the industry for more than 30 years, serving customers with authentic Chinese and Japanese food. Their journey to eventually create Toshio’s into a Seattle landmark began first with Shanghai Restaurant in Bellevue, which they operated for 15 years before running Szechuan Express in Reno, Nevada for three years. In 1997, they moved back to the Northwest. James searched for teriyaki restaurants on the market as soon as he arrived in Seattle and found Toshio’s. However, the previous owner did not want to sell so the couple went ahead and bought Kiku House Tempura on University Way.
“It was during our time at Kiku that we learned how to cook Japanese food. In our
experience, we cooked mostly Chinese food,” Yoko said. “We definitely learned about Japanese food and made it better.”

In 2002, the chance came to hone those skills and the Wang’s purchased Toshio’s Teriyaki. Since then, the restaurant has been nothing but a success.

“Owning and operating a restaurant gets very tiring sometimes,” Yoko said. “I think without the restaurant ministry aspect of my business, I would quit a long time ago.”

Restaurant ministry is what the Wang’s believe they are convicted to do as Christians. They would share testimonies, lay hands on the sick and pray for salvation to those who need it. The restaurant itself is decorated with bible verses and inspirational quotes in different languages. In one corner of the restaurant, there’s a quiet place and a box to submit prayers’ requests. This might feel like Christian propaganda to the non-believers, but it’s just one of the unique aspects of Toshio’s.

The teriyaki eatery has been operating for ten years and there is no plan of slowing down. In the future, Yoko said she would like to go to Japan to fulfill her Christian ministry, but for now Toshio’s and its restaurant ministry are the main concern.
“Everything is in God’s plan and timing,” Yoko said. “Whatever He wants us to do, we just follow.”

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