Scheduled to open in Winter 2020, Tonari will serve as the first restaurant in Washington, DC to showcase Japanese-style or ‘Wafu’ pasta and pizza located within the former Graffiato space directly next to Daikaya in Chinatown.
Wafu pasta, meaning Japanese-style pasta (dishes) is a widely loved and well-established cuisine in Japan today.
The origin of Wafu pasta dates back to 1953 at a tiny restaurant in Tokyo called Kabenoana (Hole in the Wall). At the time there were only three restaurants serving pasta in Tokyo, one of which was at the Imperial Hotel.
“At first we were a bit hesitant in taking over the space next door but we were also concerned about who might become our neighbor. In a sense, we really wanted to repurpose and recycle the restaurant and that’s how we arrived at Wafu Italian pasta and pizza.”– Yama Jewayni, partner at Daikaya Group.
In Japan today, there are many Wafu pasta restaurants and the menu items are still evolving incorporating Japanese sensibilities in creating new pasta dishes.
Pizza is also an extremely popular dish in Japan, and there is a wide range of pizza styles and options to choose from. Some pizzerias in Japan have even been known to rival traditional pizzas from Napoli.
To ensure top-notch quality in all of Tonari’s signature pasta and pizza options, Daikaya Group partners called on Yokoyama Seifun, a flour mill in Sapporo which supplies flour to Nishiyama Seimen Co., Ltd. to make their exclusive custom ramen noodles, to assist them in developing their Japanese style pizza dough mix.
During one of the team’s R&D visits to Yokoyama’s test kitchen, one of the pizzas they tested was a pan pizza using 100% Hokkaido flour and rice oil.
The pasta selections at Tonari are slated to feature both classics such as Spaghetti Napolitan with a sweet tomato-based sauce more similar to ketchup rather than a traditional marinara, and for more creative Japanese-inspired pasta options Chef Fukushima and team have plans to offer an Uni pasta, Natto Bolognese, and Mentaiko Spaghetti, just to highlight a few.
Following multiple in-depth R&D trips to Japan, Daikaya Group partners teamed up with prolific DC-based design guru Brian Miller of edit lab at Streetsense once again to bring the one-of-a-kind design for Tonari to life.