America's Classics: Maneki

Maneki A restaurant doesn’t have to serve fried chicken or pie to be an America’s Classic. Our list of America’s Classics represents the wide variety of cultures, cuisines, and people that make up the country’s food scene.  At first mention, Japanese food might not seem like a natural choice, but Maneki is a perfect example of a classic American eatery. Maneki is a family-owned enterprise whose roots stretch back to the early years of the twentieth century. Some believe it was founded in 1904. Others claim a date of 1911. No matter; it’s the only surviving restaurant from Seattle’s once bustling Japantown. Since 1974, the Nakayama family has been at the helm, first Kozo, now his wife, Jean. Maneki has long claimed a place at the center of Seattle’s Japanese-American community. In the 1930s one of the restaurant’s dishwashers was a University of Washington student named Takeo Miki, who later served, from 1974 to 1976, as Japan’s prime minister. When Seattle’s Japanese-Americans were sent to internment camps during World War II, many stored their belongings in the then shuttered Maneki. Today the modest restaurant specializes in provincial dishes like agedashi tofu and takoyaki as well as sushi and sashimi, satisfying homesick Japanese locals while introducing new generations to traditional Japanese cooking. Maneki 604 Sixth Avenue South Seattle 206.622.2631 You can watch a video about Maneki at jamesbeard.org/americasclassics. (Our list of America's Classics has grown even longer! Check out our latest inductees here.)

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