Dragons and Highballs

Rondo Japanese Kitchen Opens on Broadway

The neighborhood's izakaya master translates his sense of fun to lunchier fare. Don't worry, there's still a highball machine.

By Allecia Vermillion January 3, 2020

Makoto Kimoto describes Rondo's menu as "noodles and bowls," which feels like a bit of an understatement for these creations.

At Suika and Tamari Bar on Capitol Hill, Makoto Kimoto has perfected the late-night thrum of really good izakaya food. But now the chef who’s equally at home with sashimi or cream-drenched uni udon or corn karaage—not to mention breezy cocktails—turns his attention to the earlier hours of the day and evening. Today he opens, softly, his third restaurant, Rondo Japanese Kitchen.

Kimoto’s venturing off Pine and into Broadway for this one; he took over the former Junkichi Robata Izakaya (yes, the one with the robot) at 224 Broadway E.

Rondo will serve lunch and “early dinner,” says Kimoto. Ramen and mazemen, often described as brothless ramen, and donburi (aka protein-topped rice bowls) each get their own menu section. Heftier fare, like Japanese hamburger steaks and tonkatsu, come as part of a traditional set menu with miso soup and rice. The dessert trio: housemade yuzu ice cream and a pair of Kyoto-style matcha and hoji-cha parfaits.

The bigger kitchen brings the possibility of takeout bento, something he can’t do in Suika and Tamari Bar’s notably tiny quarters.

So large is Rondo's kitchen that the bar is located in there—an inhospitable layout for nightlife. That’s mostly why service skews earlier, but Rondo's food should pack that same izakaya sense of fun, even if you're eating it before the sun goes down. Kimoto did install a Japanese highball machine that makes an art form of fizz, and he'll serve other bubble-driven drinks like champagne, beer and cider, and his housemade ginger ale.

That sense of fun most certainly extends to decor; Kimoto has tricked out his other spots with everything from vintage action figures to a rainbow of video game cartridges. Rondo loosely translates to "dragon palace," and in a very specific convergence of events, my very favorite Seattle historian, Rob Ketcherside, built a Slime from the role-playing video game series Dragon Quest out of Legos to occupy Rondo's blue-tiled display niche. (Rob's wife, Mai, works in Kimoto's kitchen—man, this is a small town.)

The grand opening happens Friday, January 9; soft open mode continues until then from 11:30-9 each day, except Monday. Keep tabs on Rondo's Instagram for more specifics on the opening schedule, not to mention photos of gonzo daily specials.

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