A sweet piece of history returns to Seattle's Central District. Umai Do Japanese Sweets makes traditional Japanese confections called manju that dates back 700 years. One would have to fly to California or Hawaii to get them - until now.
Owner Art Oki makes the labor-intensive manju by hand. spending hours kneading the sweet rice flour and filling it with sweet bean paste.
"Right now, it's me, myself and I," said Oki.
Initially, Oki didn't know how to make the delicate treats.
"My background is finance and accounting and I worked in government for 30 years," said Oki.
But he longed for a distant memory, growing up and buying handmade manju from a Seattle shop. When it closed in the early 1970s, Oki lost a piece of his childhood. After several years, he decided to bring it back.
"I spend five summers and one winter learning how to do the basics, how to make these sweets," said Oki.
The basics included striving to make the perfect piece of manju. His cooking instructor was more like a sensei.
"The first thing that he told me was to learn how to twirl an egg," said Oki. "For a long time, I had an egg in my hand, twirling it around. People would think it a little strange."
Umai Do Japanese Sweets
1825 Jackson Street, Suite 100
Seattle, Wash. 98144-2257
Wed-Thu: 1:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Fri-Sat: 9:00 am - 6:00 pm
Sun: 9:00 am - 4:00 pm