There is all manner of cutting-edge cuisine in Seattle. And there is teriyaki. Introduced to the Emerald City at Toshi’s Teriyaki in 1976, the dark-meat dish with its caramelized glazed skin, always served with white sticky rice, remains a Seattle signature meal despite reports of its impending demise. Yes, there may be fewer teriyaki joints due to culinary trendiness and rising rents, but the Japanese-American invention is alive and well at Tokyo Stop Teriyaki.
Here is the classic configuration: grilled chicken with a slightly sweet soy glaze that offers a hint of crunch is sliced into long strips on a plate along with a football-shaped mound of rice and a pile of crisp iceberg lettuce. Tables are outfitted with three heat-levels of sauce and one squeeze bottle of thin, yellow dressing for the lettuce. The chicken is tender and deeply flavorful: not a subtle or complicated dish, but sure-enough comfort food. Portions are very large. Many customers leave with leftovers.
Variations include chicken breast teriyaki (the standard version is dark meat), extra-spicy teriyaki, teriyaki of beef, pork, salmon, shrimp, and short ribs, and tofu teriyaki for meat-frowners.
Beyond teriyaki, the menu is a broad roster of familiar Asian-American specialties including General Tso’s chicken, Korean bulgogi, stir-fries, and fried rice. I really like the shrimp fried rice, loaded as it is with big, whole crescents that are firm and sweet. There’s even kimchi fried rice and, for vegetarians, tofu fried rice. Bubble tea is available in at least a dozen flavors.
Humble, inexpensive, clean, and extraordinarily welcoming, Tokyo Stop is a happy taste of pre-Microsoft Seattle.