During Mutsuko Soma’s childhood in Tochigi, Japan, she watched eagerly as her grandmother made noodles from their homegrown rice and buckwheat. Her love for noodles stuck with her as she moved to the States to attend California State University, Northridge in 2001. Soma later transferred to the Art Institute of Seattle to attend their culinary school. Upon graduation, she honed her skills at some of the best restaurants in Seattle, including Harvest Vine, Saito, and Chez Shea. However, as time marched onwards, Soma worried that she would miss opportunities to train in her home country, and so she flew back to Japan in 2009. Soma enrolled in an intensive soba-making course where she learned everything from soba history to the buckwheat milling process.
Three years later, Soma returned to the US determined to share her talent. She opened the Japanese gastropub “Miyabi 45th” in Seattle, featuring her handmade soba noodles. In 2016, Soma left the restaurant to take care of her newborn child. Still, even during her time off she continued to pick up steam with pop-up dinners and noodle-making classes. Her highly anticipated soba restaurant “Kamonegi” opened its doors in 2017. Hannyatou, an izakaya with a focus on sake and fermented foods, quickly followed in 2019 just two doors down. Both Kamonegi and Hannyatou continue to capture Seattle’s interest with its authenticity and commitment to Japanese culture here in the Pacific Northwest.
Mutsuko Soma is a certified Sake Sommelier (Kikizakeshi), has passed the WSET Level III, and is also a certified Shochu Advisor.
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”, and was a semi-finalist for the James Beard Awards “Best Chef – Northwest” the same year.
Awards & Press
- Food & Wine Best New Chef