From Japan to Seattle
1967 Japanese wrestler arrives in Portland, Oregon
At the age of 18, Toshi Kasahara, a wrestler from a rural farming town in Japan, immigrated to America to wrestle for Portland State University. After finishing college and taking on short cooking stints at a few Japanese restaurants, Toshi moved to Seattle with hopes of opening his own shop.
1976 Toshi opens the first teriyaki restaurant in Seattle
On March 2, 1976, Toshi opened Toshi’s Teriyaki Restaurant on 372 Roy St in the lower queen neighborhood near Seattle Center. The menu had only 5 items, featuring a chicken teriyaki plate for $1.85 and chicken-beef combo for $2.10. Toshi believed that by keeping things simple, he could make Japanese food affordable and accessible to everyone.
Spreading Teriyaki across Seattle
1980 Toshi opens Toshi’s Teriyaki 2 in Green Lake
After receiving a glowing review from a Seattle Times restaurant critic, Toshi realized that a single store was not enough to satisfy Seattle’s craving for chargrilled teriyaki, as longer lines were forming outside his door every day. So in 1980, Toshi opened Toshi’s Teriyaki 2 takeout store near Seattle’s Green Lake.
1981-2003 teriyaki takes over Seattle with Toshi’s leading the way
Toshi went on to open three more stores in the Seattle area, then began franchising to help others start teriyaki shops of their own. Throughout the 1980’s and 90’s, Toshi opened close to 30 Toshi’s Teriyaki stores, while hundreds of other independent teriyaki shops started to pop up everywhere, serving Toshi’s-esque teriyaki, a.k.a. Seattle-style teriyaki.
2008 Teriyaki recognized as Seattle’s signature comfort food
Toshi retired in 2003, but teriyaki continued to spread across Seattle. In 2008, Seattle Met called teriyaki “Seattle’s signature fast food” as there were more teriyaki joints than McDonald’s, Burger Kings and Jack in the Boxes combined. Just like New York City is famous for its pizza and Philadelphia for its cheesesteaks, Seattle became know for its regional specialty of teriyaki.
Bringing back Original Seattle-style Teriyaki
2013 Toshi returns to open a new flagship store in Mill Creek
Ten years into his retirement, Toshi began to feel that teriyaki in Seattle was starting to lose focus. So in February 2013, Toshi opened a Toshi’s Teriyaki Grill flagship store in Mill Creek - a throwback to the original store with a commitment to serving true Seattle-style teriyaki at affordable prices.
2016 Toshi’s Chicken teriyaki featured on Travel Channel
In 2016, the crew from Travel Channel’s Delicious Destinations hosted by Andrew Zimmern stopped by the Mill Creek flagship store to film Toshi make his signature Seattle-style chicken teriyaki.
Watch the 3-minute video on Travel Channel
2019 Sharing Seattle-style teriyaki with the rest of America
Toshi’s current mission is to share authentic Seattle-style teriyaki with communities outside of Washington, starting with the San Francisco Bay Area. Follow Toshi’s Teriyaki on Instagram and Facebook to join us on our journey to introduce America to Seattle’s regional specialty.