Umai-Do has been serving Japanese-style sweets at 18th and Jackson since last year. The shop got some love in the form of a great feature in this month’s City Arts magazine.
Art Oki is happily off his feet, sitting inside Umai-Do, his tiny Japanese sweets shop in the International District. Buzz-cut and bespectacled, the soft-spoken 60-something is Seattle to the core: born and bred on Beacon Hill, employed for 30 years as a financial analyst for the city. Now he’s retired and collecting a pension but still working—as an entrepreneur and artisan, making and selling mild, traditional Japanese sweets in an era where candy is like crack.
The slow rhythm of his speech brings casual enlightenment about Seattle history. Oki mentions he does judo at Seattle Dojo in the Central District, which turns out to be the first-ever judo dojo in the United States. He says he opened Umai-Do a few blocks away, at Jackson Street and 20th Avenue, because the space it occupies used to be an iconic Asian-American diner called the 300 Restaurant. The 300 sign remains outside as homage, confusing occasional patrons who come looking for the lunch special.
(h/t Knox from Jackson Commons)