By Maiko Kobayashi, translated by Bruce Rutledge,
Soba has become trendy in the US. No place in Seattle has a better grasp of this trend than Kamonegi, featuring tempura and homemade soba noodles. It recently opened in Fremont. “Soba is delicious throughout the year,” says owner/chef and soba expert Mutsuko Soma. “We’ll put our efforts into offering a seasonal menu that customers will enjoy.”
The luxurious aroma and pleasurable feeling of the noodles going down your throat are just some of soba’s charms. Soma reflects on each day’s climate and temperature when she makes the noodles. She makes several versions of dashi, using dried bonito purchased from Japan at times, and changes the way she uses them depending on whether she’s serving cold or hot noodles.
Fukugawa Soba ($19), a winter specialty, offers the mellow fragrance of black garlic oil to spark your appetite. The tangy, spicy taste of shichimi and leeks with the noodles make for an addictive combo. The soup is made with either dried bonito dashi, sodabushi fish dashi or mackerel dashi. The Manila clams give the soup that extra depth that makes you want to drink every last drop.
Tempura and soba are a popular combination. Satsuma Imo Tempura ($8) features a piping hot but gently sweet satsuma potato. It comes with seasoning, soba honey and gorgonzola cheese, which all have amazing chemistry with each other. There are also local vegetables, and surprising items like celery root tempura.
The yakitori duck tsukune with soft egg ($14) is juicy and soft. There’s also homemade chicken tsukune, a delicious dish made from whole chickens purchased from a California farm. There’s demi-glace, teriyaki, original sauce and, of course, the homemade shichimi to try.
Japanese sake stands out on the drink menu. There are plenty of brands to pair with your dishes. The restaurant has the same sort of equipment to warm your sake that you’d see at an outdoor yatai food cart. You can even try blowfish sake. “I want to offer things that you can only try here,” Soma says. The chef’s unique sense gives a subtle twist to Japan’s traditional tastes. Depending on the day, Chef Soma may offer an inspired, out-of-the-blue menu. Kamonegi is a small space, so reservations are recommended.
Toshikoshi Soba in Seattle
In Japan, there’s a tradition to eat toshikoshi soba at the end of the year to wish for good health and a long life. Kamonegi will open on Sunday, December 31, for lunch and dinner so that people can have their special year-end soba.
1054 N. 39th St., Seattle