Opportunistic, fast, and thorough, Makoto Kimoto is once again preparing a new project that will carve his vision of Japanese bar culture out of a space left empty by a failed Capitol Hill-launched food+drink chain concept.
Even better, this sibling to E Pine’s Suika and Tamari Bar will bring a new daytime energy to the family.
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“As a customer, I was always looking for a place to eat at lunch time,” Kimoto tells CHS about his decision to take the plunge on Rondo, another highball, noodle, and Japanese bar food joint from the Suika and Tamari family, that will take over the Broadway space left empty by the abrupt exit of Junkichi Robata Izakaya.
The chain concept from the U.S. subsidiary of Japanese conglomerate Plenty, Inc. closed last month after less than a year of business. Plenty representatives haven’t returned our phone calls about the sudden closure but it is clear now that the restaurant won’t be reopening after “several months due to renovations” like its website promised. The final remnants of Junkichi are quickly disappearing. Its liquor license was yanked Monday.
Kimoto says he wasn’t looking to expand on Capitol Hill but when the opportunity to take over the Junkichi lease came to him, he fell in love with Broadway. With the development around the light rail facility opening with hundreds of new apartments next year and the busy flow of people to and from Capitol Hill Station, Kimoto feels like his new stretch of Broadway has “a bright future.”
Suika arrived on E Pine taking over the former 611 Supreme space in 2014 as an expansion of successful izakaya ventures in Vancouver BC. In early 2018, Kimoto made the leap across E Pine to open Tamari Bar in the space left vacant by the failure of the World of Beers concept.
As in the World of Beers opportunity, Kimoto will be able to put most of his Rondo energy into the look and feel and not the buildout of a new restaurant. At Rondo, the corporate investment to transform what started as an Einstein Bagels shop in The Lyric building won’t go to waste. The Stranger reports Kimoto’s crew can be found overhauling the Broadway restaurant into a new dragon-themed eatery:
In Japanese, “ron” means dragon and “do” means palace, so “Rondo” refers to the Dragon Palace in the story. (Kimoto also says he loves dragons in general, which makes sense, because dragons rule.) In honor of the mythical beast, Kimoto says he wants to use dry ice in certain food and drink presentations, and he wants to put cold-smoked dishes on the menu.
In addition to the smoke, fire will also be at the center of things as Rondo can put Junkichi’s centerpiece robata grill back into motion.
Expect “bento, noodles, donburi, sake, and cocktails, including some made by a Suntory Toki highball machine,” Eater Seattle reports.
Most important about the Rondo addition to the Kimoto family may not be the bento, smoke, and fire.
The new project is being described as a lunch and “early dinner” addition to Broadway. Rondo, at least for now, is shaping up to be a daytime companion to its izakaya bar siblings that brother and sister both sides of E Pine. The focus at Rondo will be more on the food end of things, Kimoto said. The Junkichi space doesn’t have a formal bar and won’t be getting one though there will still be plenty of booze. A Suntory highball for lunch? Why not.
Rondo is expected to open later this year at 224 Broadway E. You can keep track of progress at instagram.com/rondoseattle.