Soba is delicious. It's popular in Japan, but we hope that someday, it will be just as popular here! Our soba is handmade by chef and artisan soba maker Mutsuko Soma. Buckwheat is a nutritious and delicious seed, not grain, which makes our soba very low in gluten and difficult to make. Check out the crew behind the magic and some frequently asked questions below!
Behind every chef is a dedicated crew. We are a fun bunch of Japanese food enthusiasts working to promote soba and tempura to the masses through outreach and our menu at Kamonegi.
While Mutsuko Soma served as chef in other restaurants in Seattle, she dreamed of introducing fresh soba, like the kind her grandmother made for family dinners, to the masses. She founded Kamonegi as a pop-up and opened Kamonegi the restaurant in October 2017.
Kamonegi translates literally to “duck and leek,” and alludes to when one good thing brings another. In Japan, duck and leek is also a classic culinary pairing so the sight of a duck bringing a leek connotes an abundance of good fortune where one closely follows another. The namesake Kamonegi soba is also one of the most popular soba dishes at the restaurant.
Before opening Kamonegi, Chef Soma cut her teeth at restaurants like the Harvest Vine, Chez Shea, and Saito’s. She then returned to Japan to learn the art of making traditional soba. While studying soba making, Chef Soma discovered that Washington was among the largest buckwheat producing states in the United States. This fact reaffirmed her decision to introduce soba to the Pacific Northwest, an area that has greatly influenced her throughout her career.
In its inaugural year, Kamonegi was named Restaurant of the Year by Seattle Metropolitan Magazine, Best New Restaurants of 2018 by the Seattle Times, among the 20 Best Restaurants in Seattle by Conde Nast Traveler, one of America’s Best New Restaurants by Eater critic Bill Addison, and a Top 50 Nominee for America’s Best New Restaurants by Bon Appetit. Chef Soma was named as one of Food and Wine Magazine’s Best New Chefs 2019.
Chef Soma is a WSET Level 3 certified kikizakeshi or sake sommelier. She, along with co-owner Russell King, opened Hannyatou sake bar in May 2019 because in the spirit of Kamonegi, good things come in pairs.
Erika was born in Aichi prefecture of Japan and lived back and forth between Japan and the pacific northwest during her youth.
Before becoming the General Manager of Kamonegi, Erika has worked at Azabu Miami Beach in Florida and moved back to Seattle recently to pursue her career as a manager in Japanese cuisine and hospitality.
What do you like about working in the hospitality industry?
I love that hospitality nurtures you to find your strength as well as weakness. You will learn the reality, in terms of how difficult it is to operate a restaurant: people management and operation-wise, the broad depth of the restaurant business. You will also see how much hard work, love and thought is put into each product and space.
I love how you always learn and keep learning in this industry, individually and as a team. It pushes you out of your comfort zone to achieve many goals every single day and there never is a boring day working in service.
Stephen worked as a cook at Girin and Miyabi 45th before helping to open Kamonegi alongside chef Soma.
What do you enjoy cooking outside of soba?
I usually cook Korean food and I enjoy making kimchi. I also enjoy making gnocchi and pizza, a very different process from soba but still a very involved process. I also like grilling in the winter, especially if it's snowy.
What do you enjoy about Japanese cuisine?
I like yakitori a lot and want to learn more about that. I also like tonkatsu and yakisoba. It's important to me to showcase Japanese food not normally seen in America as the cuisine is very expansive beyond the typical sushi and ramen.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Soba?
What is Buckwheat?
Is Kamonegi's soba gluten free?
Is it true that soba is a common hangover food?
How and when is soba eaten?
Seiro, Nanban and Bukka...wha?
What is the difference between dried soba and Kamonegi's soba?
Is it difficult to make soba?
What is Toshikoshi Soba?
Do you sell your soba noodles regularly?