Brother and sister team Brady and Liana Woo have wanted to start a business for about 10 years now. This February, they finally served their first taiyaki to the masses at the Lunar New Year Celebration in the International District. And their little stand, BeanFish, has quietly built a following since then.
What’s taiyaki you ask? "It’s like the donut of Japan," Brady says. "A classic comfort food that’s been around since the 1900s." More specifically, waffle batter pressed in a cast-iron fish mold, heated over an open flame. Traditionally it's filled with a sweetened red bean paste.
Brady and Liana declare the batter a "great vehicle for flavor." In addition to the red bean filling, you might find their top-secret waffle batter formed around ingredients like bananas and peanut butter (aka the Elvis), bacon and cheddar, or custard.
Brady learned how to cook taiyaki on a six-month stint in Japan while visiting his wife’s family. Instead of being a tourist, he got a job at a hole-in-the-wall taiyaki shop. Though, neither sibling is a stranger to the food industry. Their family has owned restaurants in Seattle for generations. Some of you may be familiar with The Rickshaw, a Chinese and karaoke dive bar in Greenwood. That’s their aunt Ginger’s place.
BeanFish has amassed some ardent fans since its premiere at the Fremont Sunday Market, including their favorite customer, Ethan—a little boy who comes every week for a plain or cinnamon and sugar fish bun. But, across all demographics, the red bean paste has been the most popular.
Brady and Liana hope to try a mobile business next, and go brick and mortar—ideally in the ID—making them the family's fourth generation to own a spot in the neighborhood. They're envisioning a very small cafe-like space, modeled after the street-food style in Japan. Of course, showcasing taiyaki.