Seattle’s respected soba chef, Mutsuko Soma, is opening her Fremont sake bar next week. Soma announced on Facebook that the new spot, Hannyatou, will open on May 7 at 4 p.m. with a back patio, sake flights, retail sales, and plenty of fermented foods. Though the bar is small, it’s one of Eater Seattle’s most anticipated spring openings, thanks to Soma’s rising star: She was named Eater Seattle’s Chef of the Year 2017 and was a 2019 James Beard Award semifinalist for Best Chef: Northwest.
Hannatou (1060 N 39th St) will open just two doors down from Soma’s fantastic soba shop, Kamonegi, in the former home of Lama G’s Cafe. The bar will seat 20 people, plus a handful more on the patio, and it will be limited to patrons aged 21 and over. Soma has turned a shed on the back patio into a fermentation center, where she’s making miso, tsukemono pickles, koji, and more—to be showcased in a small food menu of 10 to 12 dishes.
Soma is staffing Hannyatou with sake experts who can guide patrons through tasting flights, or help them choose the perfect take-home bottle from the bar’s retail area. Soma herself is a certified kikizakeshi, essentially a sake sommelier, so suffice to say she knows a thing or two about this prized beverage. Despite sake’s growing presence in the United States, it can be quite hard to find good sake here—a status quo Soma hopes to change with Hannyatou.
Soma got Hannyatou off the ground in large part thanks to a successful Indiegogo campaign, which crowdfunded more than $25,000 to help refurbish the space.