The last time Cherry and I did Seattle Restaurant Week (SRW), was two years ago, so you could imagine I was bursting at the seams with eagerness and excitement to participate this year! In a nutshell, restaurants participating in Restaurant Week, offer a 3-course lunch menu for $15 and a 3-course dinner menu for $28. It’s an excellent opportunity to try restaurants you wouldn’t normally visit. With so many restaurants participating and so little time, I narrowed down the enormous list to one, TanakaSan! This newest addition to Tom Douglas’s restaurant empire is led by TD’s long time Executive Chef and Partner, Eric Tanaka. Located on 6th Ave and Lenora, TanakaSan occupies a large portion on the bottom floor of a residential tower. Cherry and I came for lunch and made the mistake in not making reservations. We ended up having a little wait before being seated… c’est la vie!
The serving size of the chicken wings was a little smaller for SRW (3 pieces), but they were still able to split them up for me. The first thing I immediately noticed when I took my first bite was how crunchy the skin was! It reminded me like biting into a fresh chicharrón from Mexico! The meat underneath was juicy and perfectly fried. The salty caramel wing was more salty than sweet. It actually tasted like it was tossed in fish sauce. Still quite tasty, but to me, the taste didn’t match what the menu read. I had mixed feelings about the smoked Korean chile wing. On one hand, the Korean chile’s had a great smokey flavor with a subtle spice. On the other hand, the extremely bright and vinegary flavor of the Franks hot sauce completely overpowered everything. The concept was great but I feel a hot sauce that carries more heat and less vinegar flavor may be better.
These spare ribs were awesome! The meat was literally fall of the bone tender and full of flavor. I really liked their version of general tso’s sauce. It had a much deeper, richer, and sophisticated flavor, than what I’ve had at other restaurants. The scallions added a bright note to each bite and the puffed rice provided a pleasant little crunch. This dish was a highlight of the meal.
This was a well prepared dish. The chicken thigh was tender, juicy and nicely gilled. The teriyaki sauce they used as a glaze (I believe?) had a nice balance of sweet and savory. Cherry would have liked to have seen a little less char on the edges, but I don’t mind it. She chose their potato mac salad which was also very good. They use a sriracha mayo as their base and it worked well.
The beef was nicely braised, tender and carried a very subtle coconut undertone. The pea vines added nice color to the dish, but I especially enjoyed their coconut sambal. At first, I didn’t know what the little white pieces were mixed with the sambal – I had to re-read the menu again. Once I read coconut sambal, I had that, “aha!” moment. The rich flavors of the beef combined with the heat of the sambal, creamy flavor of the coconut and the slight bitterness of the pea vines, came together like a well trained orchestra, and was quite palatable.
I felt guilty breaking this plate down and eating it – it just looked so pretty! Each individual element was delicious on its own, but when combined – perfection. The shiso cream had a very mild sweetness to it, the yuzu curd tasted like an egg custard you find a Chinese bakery, but with a much lighter texture. The cake was moist and airy and the sweet and sour rhubarb was awesome in providing a bright touch on an overall very creamy dish.
You cannot go wrong participating in SRW and you definitely cannot go wrong with any of Tom Douglas’s establishments. He and Tanaka San have created a wonderful new spot showcasing Asian-influenced dishes with fresh ingredients from the Northwest. Word to the wise, if you do decide on participating in SRW, reservations are strongly encouraged!