For more than 100 years, people of all ages have turned to Maneki time and time again for traditional, family-style Japanese food in the heart of the International District of Seattle. The restaurant opened its doors in 1904 and gave Seattle its first sushi bar, a karaoke bar, and private tatami rooms where diners sit on large floor cushions and eat from low tables. On any given day, especially weekends, it can serve over 500 customers in its dining room. Additionally, it is the place in the Japanese community for theatrical plays, weddings, and funerals.
The original restaurant, built in Japantown, was a three-story-tall white building that mimicked a Japanese castle. Maneki survived despite World War II and the incarceration of Japanese Americans, reopening in a new location after the war. Back in the day, the servers wore kimonos, serving the likes of a young Bill Gates and other famous Seattleites. The décor that lines the restaurant’s walls gives a glimpse of history: black and white photographs, newspaper clippings, and numerous “Maneki-Neko” cats that gave Maneko its name. Their raised paw beckons customers and represents good fortune. Customers can expect a warm and welcoming atmosphere with steady banter as trays of sushi and homestyle Japanese food circulate through the room. Before Maneki even opens up for the evening, there is already a line outside the door, so reservations are recommended. If you want a place that is equal parts great food and rich history, Maneki is the place to go.
Cover photo courtesy of Pixabay.