by Bruce Rutledge,
Minoru Ido had opened and operated nearly 300 restaurants in Japan while in his late 20s and early 30s. Today, having just turned 40, he is focusing his energy on one restaurant in Seattle.
Ido opened Teinei in South Lake Union in October. Teinei features ramen and sushi. The restaurateur imported a noodlemaking machine from Japan so that Teinei could make all its noodles in-house.
Ido is most famous for running 238 Ken steakhouse restaurants in Japan. He said that years ago, during a trip to Seattle, he began to imagine running a restaurant here and spreading the gospel of authentic Japanese cuisine up nd down the West Coast.
Running restaurants in Japan, where standards are extremely high, prepared him for success overseas, Ido contends. “The Japanese are tremendously picky about their food,” he says. “Among advanced nations, the cost performance of restaurants in Japan is among the highest.”
Ido said that if he can replicate that level of service in Seattle, customers will keep coming back. Seattle diners, he says, aren’t as jaded as typical
Japanese diners. “The Japanese have come to take this service for granted. At a Japanese restaurant, when a customer leaves, the whole restaurant staff will yell out, ‘Thank you for coming.’ Fewer than half of those customers turn around and acknowledge the staff. But in Seattle, when we say, ‘Thank you for coming!’ just about everybody turns around with a smile.”
Teinei is located at 1256 Republican Street. It serves lunch and dinner every day but Sunday.