Sunday, January 31, 2016

Miyabi 45th: Our First and Sadly Last Time Tasting Chef Mutsuko Soma's Soba

We had a fantastic date night trying out Miyabi 45th for the first time thanks to the great omakase dinner for two deal on Groupon (normally $60 Groupon but I purchased it for $46)! I had read about chef Mutsuko Soma's handmade soba since before arriving in Seattle through a plethora of articles on her journey learning the craft and on the sheer deliciousness of her food at Miyabi 45th (Food & Wine; Seattle Times; Serious Eats). Seeing how we're trying to explore Seattle frugally, it would've been difficult trying out an omakase meal here without the help of Groupon, so a big thank you to Miyabi 45th and Groupon for making this deal available for folks like us!

 Right before writing this post, I spotted the happy and sad news (Seattle Eater) that chef Mutsuko Soma will be taking maternity leave starting February 13th and changes will be in place after the restaurant reopens under the helm of their current sushi chef Masa Ishikura. Handmade soba will likely not be on the menu after the transition. It's such a tease that we got to taste these delicious artisan noodles for the first time only to have it be our last time. But of course, all the best to chef Soma with the beautiful news of a baby girl, and best of luck to chef Ishikura!

Chef Mutsuko Soma

Now on to the recap of the 5 course omakase experience!

Amuse Bouche + Five Course Omakase

It was really thoughtful that the restaurant provided a matrix of want/don't want dinner items for you to check or cross off to customize your 5 course meal. Everything else is left up to the chef's discretion. I would normally welcome raw dishes at a Japanese restaurant but it was an especially chilly evening so we opted to check off on "adventurous" but crossed off "raw".

Omakase Customization

The meal started off with shots of puréed butternut squash in a dashi broth. This amuse bouche was warm and creamy - a cozy welcome on a cold day!

Amuse Bouche - Butternut Squash Soup

Next came the foie gras "tofu" with red grapes and an adorable pyramid of wasabi in a dashi broth. The foie gras was blended and formed to take on the appearance and texture of silken tofu. It was absolutely luscious, but Mike noted that this would go nicely with some crackers, rice, or crusty bread to cut the richness. I was very impressed by my non-foodie husband's astute observation! He may have to take over some posts on my blog!

Foie Gras "Tofu"

The next dish was grilled salmon kama (collar) with a refreshing salad. I was hoping that we would have some kind of kama dish because it has always been a favorite hot dish of mine at Japanese restaurants. The kama was smokey and buttery, which paired nicely with the crunchy chilled salad.

Salmon Kama

That was followed by chawanmushi (savory egg custard) with snow crab, fish cake, ginko seed, and matsutake mushrooms. This is another classic hot Japanese dish that I adored as a kid before I developed a palate for raw fish. It's really fun to eat because it's like digging for treasures. The matsutake was very juicy and was the best surprise in the pool of silky egg.


The most impressive dish was new to me - braised pork belly and toasted daikon (Asian radish) mochi. I've had many amazing Chinese braised pork dishes before, but I've never had one that's paired with daikon mochi! I've never even heard of daikon mochi before! The mochi texture mimicked the chewy gelatinous texture of the pork belly fat so when you eat it with a bite of just the pork belly meat, it's as if you're eating a healthier version of the whole pork belly! Some people like eating the fat and the meat, but that's too rich for me, so substituting the fat with the mochi was genius! I wish I had more mochi to sop up the addictive sauce!

Braised Pork Belly with Toasted Daikon Mochi

The final dish was the obligatory handmade soba. It's what made this restaurant famous and successful within just three years. The bowl of hot soba had the strong fragrance of buckwheat and the texture of the noodles withstood the heat of the broth. Dried manufactured soba noodles tend to loose its buckwheat aroma and go limp  under sustained heat. As we enjoyed our bowls of chef Soma's hard work, we both realized how much we love our new city. A city that gives us the opportunity to enjoy the diverse talents and innovation of others.

Ebi Ten Soba

As irreplaceable as the handmade soba noodles are, all of the dishes leading up to this final one is a testament to how talented the entire culinary team at Miyabi 45th is. Something tells me that the restaurant can still be successful even with the possible absence of soba in the future.

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