Delighting in dynamic duos

You need only to glance at the menu of TanakaSan in Seattle to realize that the modern Asian-American restaurant is inviting you to enjoy food and beverage together. Interspersed among groups of edibles like Dumplings, Chilled Fish and Noodles are clusters of drinks like Sake Slushies, Chuhai and Shochu.

“It really pushes the sense that this is a place to eat and drink and have a good time,” says Eric Tanaka, concept guru and namesake and longtime executive chef and partner of Tom Douglas Restaurants.

He suggests The Swizzle—a machine-dispensed frozen slushie made with sake, pineapple and Green Chartreuse—to drink with super-crispy Twice Fried Chicken Wings, which come in two styles, smoked chili and kimchee ketchup and salty caramel with serranos and garlic. “It’s really light and refreshing going against those big, deep-fried wings,” says Tanaka.

Or one might sip a light, refreshing Chuhai with the Osaka Pancake, which nestles shrimp, bacon and bonito in an eggy batter. The former is a build-your-own cocktail kit served with a tall, iced glass and an indented tray holding shots of sweet potato soju, citrus juice and soda plus limes, lemons and fresh shiso. “People find it fun and interactive and it’s big seller for us,” says Tanaka.

Given the array of sakes, local and Asian beers, Japanese whiskies and cocktails in print, it’s no wonder that customers are brainstorming new food and beverage tandems. “That’s where the physical layout of the menu has really imparted a sense of discovery,” says Tanaka.

Menu Sampler: TanakaSan

  • Pho Dumpling $6.50, Beef and pork, Thai basil, jalapeno, pho broth
  • TanakaSan Ramen $13.50, Fenska's shoyu broth, pork belly, napa cabbage, miso smoked schmaltz, green apple, soft egg + whole wheat OR wavy noodle
  • Thai Toddy $9, Maggie's cold brew, Zaya rum, Curacao, condensed milk
  • Smoked Bloody $9, vodka, tomato, smoked Korean chili, serranos

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