Rondo and Tamari Bar owner Makoto Kimoto’s newest venture, Hi Life, opened on March 11 and is serving poke bowls, jewel-box-like bento boxes full of fresh seafood, and Suntory Toki whiskey highballs right next to the Bainbridge Island Ferry Terminal at 220 Olympic Drive SE.
The new restaurant will be run by Josh Trebe, who formerly worked at Seattle Fish Guys, his wife, Emy Trebe, and daughter, Mika Trebe. Kimoto says it’s been Josh’s longtime dream to open a poke shop on Bainbridge Island, and when the restaurant space became available — and happened to not have a gas range, forcing a focus on uncooked food — Kimoto knew his next restaurant should be Josh’s poke shop (Kimoto knew Emy from when she worked in his Capitol Hill Restaurants for four years). In the future, Trebe says Josh will become a partner in Hi Life.
“It’s right at the ferry terminal so I expect a lot of people from the city and people waiting for the ferry to come,” Kimoto says.
The restaurant is serving 12 types of poke, all available on bowls with rice, seaweed salad, imitation crab, tobiko, greens, and a couple of other garnishes. There’s octopus and scallop (served with its flavorful, chewy guts) with soy sauce as well as ahi and salmon with five flavors: soy sauce, truffle and yuzu aioli, spicy yuzu aioli, chili oil, and salted scallion and ginger. If you want to try a variety of these, the shokado bento box — a gorgeous three-by-three grid of eight types of poke with a side dish in the middle — is a good bet.
Available too is a Japanese curry with wagyu and kurobata pork and Pike Place Chowder’s famous clam chowder topped with a shimmering layer of the house Japanese chili oil (rayu).
Hi Life takes its name from the Japanese highball, the whiskey and soda water beverage that will be the focus of the drink menu. Kimoto even bought a Suntory Toki highball machine to efficiently make the drink.
The restaurant, which has around 10 seats inside and 10 seats outside as well a few picnic tables, is open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., closed Wednesdays, with hours to change once there’s a grand opening, which is yet to be announced. Hi Life is counter-service for now, but Kimoto says servers will take orders in the dining room once he hires more people.