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.
Chef Mutsuko Soma was born and raised in Tochigi, Japan. She came to the Pacific Northwest to study the culinary arts at the Art Institute of Seattle. After spending years refining her skills at restaurants like the Harvest Vine, Chez Shea, and Saito’s, Chef Soma moved back to Japan to learn the art of making traditional soba noodles in the hopes of finding something unique to bring back to the Northwest. While studying soba making, Chef Soma discovered that much of the buckwheat used in Japan were sourced directly from Washington, one of 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 cooking career. Along with being a chef and artisan soba maker, Soma is also a certified sake sommelier certification from the Japan Sommelier Association, WSET (level 3).
Stephanie comes to us as the former general manager of operations at Manu’s Tacos and manager at Wild Ginger Kitchen. She is a long time lover of food and noodles, which has since been taken to another level since she took over as GM of Kamonegi.
What is your favorite soba dish at Kamonegi?
It’s simple, but I love the zaru noodles. One of the first times I met with Chef Soma, I went to see her soba studio and our sous chef Stephen, made a batch of soba while Soma was coaching him from the sidelines. Afterwards, she brought out this giant mat of cold noodles, some zaru sauce and I had soba for the first time. Our team is so wonderful and special, it is nice to be reminded of them by a simple noodle dish.
As a manager, what do you enjoy about service industry?
I love this industry because the learning never stops. Providing great service is easy when you’re excited about what you’re serving. The enthusiasm is contagious, it is really fun to see people respond to it!
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
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