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September 22, 2021

Former Canlis chef opens new restaurant in White Center with sleek minimalist design

A/E Editor

Photos courtesy of Graypants [enlarge]
“Inside out” was an overarching theme of the restaurant’s design.

A series of 4-foot patinated pipe pendants hang above the bar at Tomo.

Tomo is the latest restaurant to open its doors in White Center, an area that is quickly developing a robust culinary scene. Located at 9811 16th S.W., the space is intimate and only seats 28 with room for a few more on an outside deck.

Tomo is owned and operated by chef Brady Williams, former executive chef at Canlis. Williams brought in Seattle- and Amsterdam-based creativity studio Graypants to design his first restaurant. Graypants was founded by an architect and designer duo “as an opportunity to apply an architectural mindset to product design and art — enhancing space and enriching experiences.” The design studio is known for its light-minded design.

For Tomo, the design team aimed to fit into the context of White Center while creating a very authentic signature for the space. Taking cues from the idea of turning the space inside out, the materials inside are as textured as an exterior would be, with a focus on natural materials and slatted dividing walls that mimic the texture of the trees outside.

The design also took place during the pandemic and as such was envisioned with flexibility in mind. The lighting and tables are both very flexible. For example, the position of the seating areas is customizable along a full-width bench. Installed above the bench is a custom linear light bar running 70 feet, with translucent ribbon elements that can be slid back and forth to highlight or dim areas depending on where the seating lands. Made of wood and suspended in space, the fixture is a central element.

The team also added several 4-foot-large patinated pipe pendants over the bar.

The overall effect is a sleek and clean dining experience given warmth by the intimacy of the space and lighting elements. This fits with the restaurant's goal of providing “an exceptional dining experience free of formality.” Art is another important part of Tomo. In an interview with Westside Seattle, Williams said that the art in the restaurant will be carefully curated and will rotate alongside seasonal menus.

Menus are vegetable centered and inspired by the heritage of Tomo's culinary team. Williams himself comes from a Japanese American background. The restaurant is named for his grandmother, Tomoko Ishiwata Bristol, so expect far eastern flavors to feature heavily alongside seasonal and ethically sourced ingredients. The menu changes regularly and is prix fixe. Diners can choose from two five-course tasting menus at $68 per person. Tomo opened its doors on Sept. 9 and is already fully booked through October.


Emma Hinchliffe can be reached by email or by phone at (206) 622-8272.

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