Sunday, April 12, 2015

New Spring Menu at Shibumi Izakaya

The spring menu is coming to Shibumi Izakaya on Capital Hill in Seattle! Last week I was invited to a preview dinner of the forthcoming Japanese small plates and comfort foods. I've never been there before and wasn't sure what the evening had in store, but I was impressed.

The restaurant is beautiful and minimalist with wood accents and Japanese ceramics and clothing on display. The bar is well stocked, with a range of Japanese whiskys, sake and sochu. Always my favorite in any restaurant, the open kitchen borders on one half one the restaurant.

The bartender is super friendly. I'd never had shochu before and after chatting about how it fits into different cocktails, he brought out some samples. Quite a difference between barley and sweet potato distilled liquor. I had his take on Moscow Mule, made with his own ginger beer. He also made a vesper, substituting shochu for vodka, which was a delicious drink, too.  I recommend Shibumi on the drinks alone!
Moscow Mule with house made ginger beer
Like many Japanese restaurants, Shibumi serves beautiful sashimi. And while delicious, Shibumi has far more to offer. This eating experience showed that Japanese cuisine was more than just ginger and wasabi.
Once the small plates started coming, it got real.  The food ranged from vinegary and sweet shrimp and pickled cucumbers to savory cuttlefish stuffed with sausage. It was an eye opening evening; I don't think of sausage as a typical Japanese dish.

Soft boiled eggs are hard to come by in restaurants and I was pleasantly surprised by the soft egg with roe. The egg was perfectly creamy and the roe popped with the freshness of the sea. It's less salty than caviar and was a beautiful treat. I will replicate this at home for sure.


The chef, Eric Stapelman, came out and visited our table a few times. He shared that shibumi means always striving for perfection and it shows in his food. There was one dish that the restaurant was too dark for me to capture a picture and it was quite possibly the highlight of the evening.  A piece of poached salmon was wrapped in tofu skin, packaged up as a little gift drizzled with a savory nage. Each bite was blissful, but in a later discussion with the chef, he said he was considering swapping the salmon with his house made sausage - demonstrating how he's always trying to perfect what he does.

The evening wrapped up with black sesame ice cream, beautifully served with an edible flower. The black sesame impart a vaguely coffee flavor to the ice cream and the whole sesame give it a little crunch.

The new menu launches Wednesday April 15th and will delight your senses. Stretch your eating boundaries, try a new cuisine and enjoy some great cocktails.

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post, but I was given an awesome dinner and drinks. As always, the opinions are mine and I'm looking forward to coming back to this restaurant.

I'm still going to get Specialty Coffee

I wasn't able to attend this year's Specialty Coffee Association of America's Event in Seattle this weekend, but I've been getting my fair share of specialty coffee and have been living vicariously through the #SCAA2015 Instagram feed.

Over the year's I've realized the benefit of slowing down and enjoying life's experiences, even if they're the small everyday things. Coffee is one of those things for me. I used to drink 6 -8 shots of espresso a day. Along with some other lifestyle changes I'll drink one coffee a day, but it will be a damn fine coffee.

There is a lot of mediocre coffee available today and people drink it up. But what is great when you can find people that really love coffee and it shows in their product.  I've found a small cafe in Burien, Washington that makes excellent coffee and love the fact that at most Starbucks, you can get a pour over.

With a little searching or good friends you can find great roasters. A friend of mine from work brought me coffee from Bend, Oregon from Backporch Coffee Roasters which I've quite enjoyed of the last few weeks.

Sure, I've geeked out a bit with my purchase of a grinder and love my acaia coffee scale, but they all aid the experience in bringing out the best of the coffee.

Starbucks has done something wonderful with coffee, too. And I'm not talking about the fact that you can get a consistent cup of coffee just about anywhere in the United States (or right across the street from you where ever yo u may be in Seattle) - Starbucks has opened a roastery just for their own Reserve beans.

A photo posted by Beau (@beauraines) on

They have rare beans and they roast them in the same space that they make your drinks. Its not just machine pulled espresso drinks - they have all types of different pour overs, siphons and cold brew. Now that Starbucks has gotten everybody hooked on coffee, they're going to upgrade everybody to good coffee!

Ironically, the Starbucks Roastery is right down the street from Victrola Coffee Roasters. While they've been on Capital Hill for a long time, I wonder how many people walk right past them, not knowing the wonderful coffee that has been available since the early 2000's.

A photo posted by Beau (@beauraines) on

Take a little time, make an investment in your coffee experience and really enjoy it. You can have Specialty Coffee right in your own home.