Restaurant review: 9 things to love about Kobuta & Ookami, Seattle’s best place to go out—and one problem

Kubota and Okami | Seattle Times Critic’s Choice | Japanese / Katsu | $$ – $$$ | Capitol Hill | 121 15th Ave. E., Seattle; 206-708-7856; | Reservations for six plus only | No outside dining / no outdoor seating | Noise level: moderate | Access: no obstacles, one gender-neutral toilet

Kubota and Okami On Capitol Hill is a katsu and sake joint – you won’t find a long list of appetizers here (or any menu of appetizers, actually), just a selection of offerings of katsu, the Japanese fried and fried meat meal. Owners Don Tandavanitj (Chef), Dee Tandavanitj, Dew Tandavanitj, Sue Phuksopha and Ping Vimonaroon – three siblings, one of their longtime girlfriends and another beloved friend, with a metric ton of restaurant experience – traveled a lot and decided to bring Seattle a class of Japanese food that it lacks In particular.

They loved the super crisp surroundings of the divine meat they encountered at the best katsu spots in the back alleys of Japan – where, as with ramen, katsu is taken up to the level of comfort food art. They also loved the casual atmosphere of lounging and drinking at these places located, for example, under the tracks of the Tokyo train.

On behalf of Seattle, let me say to them: Thank you very much. Here are nine particular things to love about Kobuta & Ookami, plus one problem.

1. The Great Crisis: To say that Kobuta & Ookami “only” makes Katsu do the situation serious harm, is because that Katsu is all about. Here you will enjoy a crunchy experience like no other, a makeshift trip to heaven in golden brown deep fried form. The coating on pork – or chicken, or shrimp, or mozzarella wrapped in ham (yes!), etc. – is really crunchy bristles, with a myriad of little rocks and crevices providing practically endless space on the surface of our friend’s hot oil. It works its magic. Chef Don Tandavaneng It was revealed over the phone that they use nama panko imported from Tokyo – made fresh, not your typical dried, with larger crumbs that provide a lighter, more delicate texture – and also allowed“We also use special types of oil to cook the katsu as well.”

Other panko-coated domestic efforts pale, figuratively and literally, by comparison. The hot crunch is when you chomp on that katsu… I obviously can go on, but words sometimes seem like a particularly stupid way to simply approach superfood – eating is what’s good for that.

2. Incredible Pork: Chicken Kobuta & Ookami – range-free, all-natural, famous Jidori, also known as Kobe beef in the bird world – is very, very good, and totally worthy of its encapsulation in its rich gold crust. As well as the large shrimp, the ocean freshness is such a wonderful contrast with the crunchy, their tails are definitely crunchy enough to eat easily. I would very much like to talk about ume-shiso – pickled plum paste and shiso leaves wrapped in thinly sliced ​​chicken – but she was constantly coming out of it. We will deal with the mozzarella option soon.

So: pork. Five different types are available, and even the lower grade rosso – pork loin with “more fat” – rates me like, the antithesis of dry, flavorful pork loin. My cutlet is beautifully shaded from light meat on one side to darker on the other. Upgrade to kurobuta – aka the wagyu of pork – for soft lips, a luxuriously fat marbling, cooked to perfection and luscious with house-made mustard that will make you sneeze (more on that in a minute). Upgrade back to a Spain-bred Iberico on a diet of walnuts for a great, moist, semi-important, semi-fuzzy feel, light in taste and texture. Or get the less-expensive minchi, which is a minced pork and onion pie, which is also excellent, with great crunch, and sweetness from the onions – well, order one of these from the “add on the side” part of the table menu, and then fight for it. (Get shrimp while you’re at it.)

The freshness of all the pork at Kobuta & Ookami (except for rent, a tenderloin I haven’t tried yet because it says “lean” on the menu, so why?) makes it a miraculous match to the unnaturally crunchy coating. Despite (and also because of) my recent hot dog taste test, let me say that we should all eat meat rarely, and when we do, we should really enjoy it. This is a place for that.

3. An Absolutely Great Mozzarella Stick Version: Kobuta & Ookami makes mozzarella wrapped in a thin slice of tenderloin topped with miracle-fried, which means an outside crunch, then the cheese extends all the way through, and then the flavor of pork is like the moment the strings first come into the symphony. The presentation is impressively open, like a cheese boat lined with ham. Mozzarella isn’t on the toppings list, but you can and should get it made to order to share, because ordering this whole for one person might actually be an overload.

4. Many options: All the different proteins, cravings for ume-shiso and mozzarella are available in seven different forms at Kobuta & Ookami. Maybe start with plain katsu ($16 – $27, including sides) to get a feel of her genius. But, then, katsudon ($16-27)—your choice of savory on a bed of rice with “savory chutney,” well-cooked eggs, onions and a rich sprinkling of algae—is its own kind of perfection. Chef Tandavanetg’s curry ($16-$27) is also great: onions, black peppers, tomatoes, and the throat coating made with dark chocolate taste tangy, showing the slightest sheen from the surface grease. Or, for those who adore the realm of Japanese-American comfort food, Tomato & Cheese serves your choice of breaded excellence and fried with sweet tomato sauce—think extra-high school lunch—under a perilous snowdrift of grated Parmesan. There is a lot to explore, but beyond…

5. Two of the best sauces in the world: On the table are two pitchers. One is Chef Tandavaneti’s Tonkatsu Sauce, to dip your pork chops/your life in. Forget every store-bought version: This one is super glossy, pleasantly tart, and maybe citrusy, with a slight spicy bite. Showing details, Tandavanej revealed that it is made with peaches, dates, onions, apples, bay leaf and more. Then there’s his sesame dressing for the delicate mound of cabbage that comes with most orders: a mile richer than others like it, and a contrasting sweetness, warm, wonderful. The toasted sesame seeds are ground (and you can grind more with a little pestle that also comes with most orders) — on top of that, “we’re getting it all together,” he points out. “That’s all I can say!” Very good – please pass both jugs to pour directly into the mouth.

6. Incredibly Complex Mustard: The unusual dark mustard color of this smear on the Kobuta & Ookami boards serves as a warning and siren song. “be cerfull!” One servant said, the few go to heaven and hell and back. It’s made with S&B Japanese mustard powder with mustard made from whole grains, plus other ingredients that Chef Tandavanej declined to specify. If you like mustard, this is a must and we may hope/urge you to pack this, along with the two best sauces in the world. and curry him.

7. Huge Cold Beer and Tons of Glaze: Fried (not to mention sweaty mustard) orders cold beer, and Kobuta & Ookami Sapporo serves in a convenient (and fun) large format 32 ounce glass ($14, worth it). There is also a very large sake selection – over 24 types – hard to choose, and one server seemed to falter when asking for a recommendation. Asked who the house expert is, Chef Tandavanej said, “We only like sake, so we drink a lot.” For those in doubt, there’s a sampler of three ($16), set up in a wooden shelf on a tray engraved with the wolf and pig logo engraved in place—a cute junmai sampler with plum echo: Miyasaka Yawaraka’s “Sake Matinee,” perfect for lunchtime. Connoisseurs/big spenders get into the likes of Heavensake by Dassai, “like walking into a flower shop” for $126 a bottle.

8. Sweets: The bland-flavored sweets at Kobuta & Ookami come from Phinney Ridge, Tokara’s Japanese sweets treasure, which are textured risotto dreams, bouncy with mochi and/or filled with pastes, looking like rainbow flowers, enclosed sea anemones or triangular emblems ($6.50 each). Of which).

9. It’s too cold: Kobuta & Ookami’s small room looks delightfully contemporary with wood elements giving depth to the ceiling, six bar stools in the kitchen and nine tables, and a nook filled with sake bottles. There is nothing surprising about the space except for the feeling of coziness. The music is played on a human level, navigating through the covers of delicate pop to earth, wind and fire. Families dine—grandparents, parents, a toddler in a hat with long fuzzy ears—friends gather, and low-pressure dates happen. The service is friendly. It’s just a nice place to be.

The one problem: Kobuta & Ookami is so popular among those who know and love it that getting into it is really difficult. After this review, this will be more the case. I am sorry! I was lucky enough to show up before they open at 5pm daily to line up for an early dinner (and eat my leftovers later). Reservations are accepted for parties of six or more – if you gather five pork-loving friends, they’ll thank you very much. And unlike many local restaurants at the moment, Kobuta & Ookami is open for lunch, from 11am to 3pm (noon to 3 on Sundays) – a later restaurant may be more viable, after which you may also have One of the trainees called it Happy Day.

What do dollar signs indicate?

Average price for dinner:

$$$$ – $35 and up

$$$ – $25 to $34

$$ – 15 to 24 dollars

$ – Under $15

Updated: March 2022

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