Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Common Grains Soba Pop-Up

Have you ever had fresh, hand kneaded, hand cut soba? If not, get to the Common Grains soba pop-up shop at Breadbar while you can, because it is nothing like other soba you've ever had.

Sonoko Sakai is one of LA's soba masters, but you'd normally only be able to taste her soba if you take one of her soba making classes (which I have and highly recommend). Now, as part of a Japanese educational program, Common Grains, she and another soba chef, Mutsuko Soma are serving up soba at BreadBar in Century City until January 22.

Juuwari Soba
The soba here is made with 80% buckwheat flour (organically grown and stone-milled) and 20% wheat flour, but you can also try the Juwari soba made with 100% buckwheat flour. Kneading pure buckwheat flour without no binder is that much harder, trust me.

I recommend trying either the zaru soba ($12) or juwari soba ($13.50, pictured above) so you can fully taste just how much better the soba is here, but understandably it is still cold out and you might want a bowl of something warm. Get one of the seiro soba, served with a bowl of warm soup that you can dip your soba into.
Pork Seiro Soba

They have the pork kakuni seiro made with braised pork shoulder, tamago, tokyo negi, and ginger ($16), duck seiro with tokyo negi, yuzu, and japanese herbs ($16), or the mushroom seiro ($14.50)
Pork kakuni seiro
The duck meat was a bit tough - the pork shoulder is much more tender. On the other hand, I thought the broth for the duck was more flavorful. Either way, the soba is the true star!
Duck Seiro

Other than soba, there are a handful of side dishes including onigiri and pickled vegetables. We ordered the shira-ae made with green beans, golden beets, fuji apple, tofu, cream, sesame, and pine nuts ($9)

There's only one dessert on the menu which sounded and tasted a bit strange at first, but will certainly grown on you: "Broken Jellied Tea" made with tea, agar agar, raspberry and kumquats, Okinawa brown sugar syrup, red bean, roasted soybean powder, and crispy buckwheat ($6.75)
There's a lot going on in this dessert and the texture of the jelly is somewhere between konnyaku jelly and panna cotta, but I liked it quite a bit.

You have until this Sunday to hit up this soba pop-up shop, but if you can't make it you might still be able to try the soba at the East Meets West dinner at Cooks County on February 1st! The dinner is $32 per person for the three-course prix fixe menu and $45 with sake pairings ($4-16 for a la carte items). Not sure yet what will be on that menu, but hopefully there will be soba. You can make a reservation by calling Cooks County at 323.653.8009.

Common Grains Pop-up
@ BreadBar Century City
until January 22.
Reservations: 310.277.3770


H. C.

Nice write-up on the soba fest; couldn't eke out the time for this pop-up, but hopefully I can get to the Cooks County event or the Soba-Ya opening in Feb.

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