October 3, 2023


Food, couldn't ask for more.

After cancer, a former golf fanatic brings his A-Game (and mother’s cooking influence) to iconiq

Just about 20 Several years ago, Toshiyuki Kawai was months absent from leaving his residence and family members in Osaka for college in the United States when his mother resolved he required to master how to prepare dinner. “I didn’t even know how to prepare dinner rice in a rice cooker,” suggests Kawai, 23 at the time. “I wasn’t intrigued.”

In Japan, golfing had been Kawai’s passion, Tiger Woods his idol and caddying for a pro golfer his dream. His mom constantly did the cooking at dwelling. “I was blessed to grow up ingesting what she can make,” he claims. Miyoko Kawai couldn’t support her son find out English (he didn’t communicate any at the time), but at minimum she could educate him to cook.

She taught him to make a Spanish omelet. He assumed flipping it in the pan was exciting. He shown his newfound skill for his homestay hosts in Seattle. A person took place to be the registrar at South Seattle Faculty, who suggested Kawai check out the school’s culinary classes.

Kawai shifted his target from the driving vary to the kitchen variety. Soon after graduating from South Seattle’s culinary software, he labored at quite a few noteworthy Seattle dining establishments: La Rustica, Spring Hill, Maximilien, Luc, RN74, E book Bindery and The Harvest Vine. All those people activities, along with his innate knowledge of Japanese cuisine, impact his cooking at iconiq.

His culinary fashion is as obvious, clear and balanced as a good sake. Depending on the time, he’ll set scallop sashimi in a pool of chilled white asparagus velouté or build an isle of pine-nut-studded ahi tuna tartare in a sea of strawberry gazpacho. He crowns perfect risotto with tomato ponzu and nuggets of tempura-fried Neah Bay black cod. He braises Spanish Iberico pork collar to pot-roasty tenderness, slices it into thick cutlets, and serves it breaded and fried katsu-design.

Kawai was 37 by the time he opened iconiq, a serene location perched on a bluff in the Mount Baker neighborhood. The restaurant’s again windows boast an eagle’s-eye check out of Seattle, a distant, shimmering Oz minus the yellow brick highway. The foodstuff and the seamless services attained iconiq a location on The Seattle Times’ list of Top rated 10 New Dining places of 2017, but by the time that record was revealed in November, iconiq had temporarily closed.

Soon after a decade battling ulcerative colitis, Kawai experienced been identified with colon most cancers that August. He returned to Osaka, the place his mother and father and youthful brother however live, for treatment method. Soon after surgical procedures to take out his colon, he required a 9-thirty day period colostomy. Back in Seattle, a setback place him in Harborview for a few months. He remembers “eating ice chips for a extended time.” Now he can take in something. Approximately five several years later, his periodic scans stay distinct.

The restaurant’s hiatus lasted 15 months. The landlord gave him a split on the rent, and Kawai was ready to reopen iconiq in November 2018. Fifteen months afterwards arrived the COVID lockdown. Kawai credits a loyal cadre of common shoppers for supporting the cafe all through the rockiest times of the pandemic, when he and his modest group produced a diverse a few-class tasting menu weekly for takeout. It proved so popular, they’ve stored it likely, even even though indoor eating has extended because resumed.

Pre-pandemic, Miyoko Kawai produced yearly visits to Seattle. This June, she returned for the first time considering the fact that 2019. Kawai held a specific supper at iconiq to rejoice the celebration. Mother and son collaborated on the menu. Titled “Homecoming,” it featured asparagus flan with morel sauce king salmon confit with orange-braised fennel and ikura Iberico pork shabu shabu with ratatouille couscous and “dueling desserts”: mother’s strawberry shortcake, son’s chocolate mousse. It was a beautiful tribute to the lady Kawai calls “my initially teacher, the particular person who made me see cooking as an artwork type.”

Domo arigato gozaimashita, okaasan. Thank you, mother, for instructing your son to flip omelets.