Today in totally understandable bummers delivered via press release: Chef Mutsuko Soma is leaving her post at Miyabi 45th. It’s a happy development—Soma is preparing to have a baby girl in March—but it does leave Seattle without the talents of the West Coast’s only practitioner of handmade soba noodles.
Miyabi 45th as we know it will serve its last bukkake and bowls of nanban soba on February 13. The restaurant will close for a short break (missing Valentine’s Day, one of the most lucrative, if crazypants, dining nights of the year?) and reopen at some point soon after with a new menu, designed by Masa Ishikura, the chef at Miyabi 45th’s Tukwila sibling restaurant, Miyabi Sushi. Presumably the days of servers having to explain to diners that this particular Japanese restaurant doesn’t serve sushi will be a thing of the past.
But soba lovers, take heart: Soma plans to reinstate her original Kamonegi soba popups once she’s found her rhythm in this impending world of Boppys and butt cream. She’s also open to the idea of returning to the restaurant with a full or partial soba menu, if it makes sense down the road. In other noodle-related matters, Soma's Wednesday Onibaba ramen popup will continue as normal at the restaurant on February 3 and 10. After that, keep tabs on its Facebook page for word of its return.
For a woman who trained in Japan to practice a notoriously labor-intensive craft, stepping away from her role can't be an easy decision. Soma’s announcement, coincidentally, comes on the heels of a much-discussed Eater article on the difficulties female chefs and cooks face when adding motherhood to the kitchen milieu of inflexible schedules and little to no paid leave or other benefits. Yes, it’s a culinary downer to be without Soma’s talents, but a visible reminder of the tradeoffs that motherhood basically requires of someone in her profession can only help further this conversation. Hopefully over a bowl of soba.