In Belltown, amidst the hustle and bustle, an unassuming door is the gateway to another world.
The start of a culinary journey. Japanese food unlike you've ever experienced before.
Welcome to Wa'z.
"I bring the Japanese culture, the Japanese culinary technique and skill with Washington ingredients, local ingredients, to make something special. Kaiseki," said Hiro Tawara, chef/owner of Wa'z.
Tawara guides diners through a multi-course meal rooted in seasonality and technique. It's best experienced at the chef's counter, where you can watch each dish as it's prepared and plated.
He grew up in Japan, and trained at a kaiseki restaurant in Kyoto, but when Hiro came to Seattle the jobs were in sushi. He worked at two of the best restaurants in the city, Sushi Kappo Tamura and Shiro's, under legendary sushi chef Shiro Kashiba.
"He always educates the people, and the customers really enjoy learning the new ideas," said Tawara.
Hiro takes the same approach, introducing and explaining each course as it's served.
Traditionally, kaiseki is a light meal served at a tea ceremony. A meal dictated by a strict set of rules. But, Hiro isn't afraid to break them, particularly when it comes to plating. Each dish is a work of art.
"You know it's going to be good when you see how it's presented on the plate," said Scott, a diner trying kaiseki for the first time.
The menu, which rotates monthly, is like a piece of music. It builds, then crescendos.
The showstopper during our recent visit? Japanese A5 Wagyu beef, quickly seared and served in a handroll with sea urchin, chiso and roe. The flavors and textures combining for a beautifully composed bite.
For diners, the eight-course meal was as enlightening as it was delicious. A gateway to kaiseki dining and the depth of Japanese cuisine.
"Today really took me through a journey of flavors that I hadn't experienced before. The staff really guided me through the experience, which I really appreciated," said Sean, who was dining at Wa'z for the first time during our visit.
Added Scott, "It's put together so delicately and precisely. And the timing, how it all comes together, and how chef describes the dish and puts it in front of you, it's a fantastic experience. I recommend it to everyone for sure."