Hannyatou – New Store from Chef Gaining National Recognition
Since opening the soba specialty restaurant Kamonegi in October 2017 and winning Food & Wine Best New Chefs 2019, Restaurateur and Chef Mutsuko Soma has no intention of slowing down. Her latest store Hannyatou has been getting a lot of buzz from media and gourmands already.
“The more Kamonegi got popular, the less I could try new things here. When a café near Kamonegi closed,” she says. “I was inspired to open another restaurant with a new concept.” Soma’s new concept this time is something that has been percolating in the US lately – fermentation. She wanted to introduce Japanese culinary tradition through this lens. Hannyatou, which opened in early May, features appetizers created with homemade fermented products such as miso, vinegar, koji, and natto, paired with Japanese sake.
Sake is another focus of Hannyatou. The store sells bottles of sake to take home, besides enjoying it at the restaurant. “I hope I can be of some help in spreading sake throughout the US,” Soma says. She wants to encourage diverse food pairings with sake. “To pair with seafood, sake is better suited than wine as sake contains less iron. I want to change the conventional wisdom around food pairing.”
As Chef Soma worked toward her dream of opening her restaurants, she trained at restaurants in Japan and the US. She also earned restaurant-related titles including certification as sake sommelier – kikizakeshi. At Hannyatou, besides Soma, many other members have earned Level 3 qualifications from WSET. “Staff at Hannyatou are full of knowledge. They traveled all round Japan to find rare quality sakes,” Soma says. “We have samplers for those who want to study sake. We have rare premium ones to offer for sake enthusiasts too. We have a wide range of sakes to try on our menu.”
On May 9, the restaurant hosted three visitors from Japanese sake breweries for a special event. There will be more sake events planned including sake classes by Tomizawa Shuzo Brewery from Fukushima, who is setting up a brewery in Seattle. The happy hour at Hannyatou is the same as at Kamonegi (4-6pm, plus 9-11pm on Fridays and Saturdays).
We can look forward to sake pairings with Chef Soma’s innovative farmented dishes. “Im not just using soy for fermentation. I will try using different ingredients such as Jalapeno Cheddar Bagels. I want to play around using meat and fish too.”
Hannyatou |1060 N. 39th St., Seattle, WA 98103