how-teriyaki-became-seattle-s-own-fast-food-phenomenon.1158364.40.jpg
Two Seattle chicken icons are now peddling poultry from neighboring locations in Renton.

Ezell's Famous Chicken last November opened a store near the city's Civic

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Local Teriyaki Pioneer is Back at the Grill

how-teriyaki-became-seattle-s-own-fast-food-phenomenon.1158364.40.jpg
Two Seattle chicken icons are now peddling poultry from neighboring locations in Renton.

Ezell's Famous Chicken last November opened a store near the city's Civic Theater. A month later, Toshi Kasahara opened a teriyaki joint next door.

"We're kind of happy together," Kasahara says. "They serve fried chicken and we serve teriyaki chicken."

Kasahara, identified as the grandaddy of local teriyaki in former Weekly critic Jonathan Kauffman's teriyaki opus, in 1976 opened Toshi's Teriyaki Restaurant on Lower Queen Anne. He ultimately built a revolving empire around his distinctive sauce of sugar, soy and chicken juice, opening and selling teriyaki shops. He later franchised Toshi's, creating a string of restaurants across the city. But six years ago, Kasahara decided he was done with chicken. "I was so tired of it; it was time to quit," he told Kauffman. He decided to focus on real estate.

As the real estate market soured, Kasahara's sons pestered him to start cooking again.

"They've got a good marketing strategy, so I'm excited," Kasahara says.

There are sandwiches on the menu at Toshi's Teriyaki Grill, but the Kasaharas are otherwise sticking to the business model Toshi Kasahara pioneered 35 years ago.

"We keep the low price," Kasahara says. "And, of course, you got to keep it clean. There are a lot of teriyaki places, but their prices are so high. I believe they're not doing the best job, I feel."

At Toshi's Teriyaki Grill, a chicken teriyaki plate costs $4.75.

"We wanted to give our customers real bargain deals," Kasahara says.

Toshi's Teriyaki Grill is located at 509 S. Third St., Suite A, in Renton.

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