9.0
SEA

Kamonegi

Perfect For: Casual Weeknight Dinner Eating At The Bar Impressing Out of Towners Vegetarians
PHOTOS: Nate Watters

There are several ways to deal with severe dinner indecision. You could put a few different types of food on slips of paper, toss them in a bucket, and draw one at random. You could also release some baby turtles with restaurants written on their shells and see which one waddles the fastest. But if you can’t read your own handwriting or the turtles ask if they’ll be compensated for their work, you should go to Kamonegi in Fremont.

Chances are, it’s not that you can’t figure out where to eat, it’s that you already made enough decisions today and have temporarily reverted to a helpless childlike state. Kamonegi will take care of you. You’ll be welcomed by extremely friendly servers as soon as you walk in, and surrounded by the circulating soba steam around the homey space. Dinner at Kamonegi is comforting, like when someone makes you homemade soup if you’re sick or pretending to be. Except, the soup here happens to have tempura flakes and handmade buckwheat noodles, and it also happens to restore your soul. Unlike those books, which weren’t even about soup.

Nate Watters

Kamonegi serves chewy soba noodles, tempura, and not much else, so that narrows down what you’re eating tonight. The soba comes three ways - seiro (cold noodles with a warm dipping broth), nanban (broth with the noodles already inside), or brothless. Our favorite is a mushroom seiro with leeks and truffle oil that’s so good it makes us wish we could trade places with the noodles and take a dip inside. But the cold dishes are incredible too, like noodles in a kimchi heirloom tomato sauce with sesame leaf. The food here is unexpected and delightful at the same time. Kind of like a sunshower. We could use more sunshowers in restaurant form.

Especially on a rainy Seattle day, use Kamonegi as your personal safehouse. The soba is the clear star of the show here, but the rest of the menu is such a talented supporting cast that the only decision you’ll have to make now is which dish you’ll call your favorite. Hope you still have those baby turtles.

Food Rundown

Shishito, Miso Spicy Cod Roe Aioli

These are a plate of simply fried shishito peppers that come with a salty aioli, and we wish it were the other way around. There’s not enough of the aioli, so ration it well.

Yakitori Duck Tsukune With Soft Egg

When you have the right to order moist duck meatballs coated in a yakitori bbq sauce alongside crunchy lotus roots and a runny egg, it’s best to exercise this right.

Eggplant Tempura

The eggplant is fried in big pieces and served in a light broth with chanterelle mushrooms and pickled daikon. It’s a delicious starter.

Shrimp Tempura

Lightly crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, and served with a salty dipping sauce. A must-order here, but keep in mind that a bunch of the entrees already include a piece or two.

Mustard-Stuffed Lotus Root Tempura

Mustard is the best thing to happen to lotus root. And tempura in general.

Shrimpcado Bukkake

This is a cold, light dish with avocado, tempura shrimp, tempura flakes, strips of nori, cucumber, and wasabi that works well if you’re not feeling soup.

Heirloom Tomato Kimchi Bukkake

The cold soba noodles are tossed in a tangy heirloom tomato sauce with the tiniest hint of spice, along with sesame seeds and little strands of sesame leaf. It's excellent.

Mushroom Seiro

This is the best dish in the house. It’s a small bowl of potent mushroom broth with leeks and the perfect amount of truffle oil. The soba noodles come on the side for dipping. Someone we were with called it “so pure.” You should eat this outstanding thing.

Karee Seiro

Another of our favorite dishes, the karee is a very tasty curried broth containing leeks and pieces of fresh mozzarella, where the noodles come on the side. Name something that isn’t improved by fresh mozzarella.

Shrimp Bisque Seiro

If you’re in the market for a comforting soup that has the same emotional effect as burning a bergamot candle and watching the episode of Frasier when Niles and Daphne finally get together, here you go. The broth is slightly creamy and comes with a big piece of fried shrimp and an onslaught of tempura flakes.

Kake Hot Noodles In A Hot Broth

We’d recommend skipping this, because the broth kind of tastes like soy sauce mixed with water, resulting in the only boring bowl under Kamonegi’s roof.

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