It should be fairly obvious by now that my most frequented restaurant in town is Kobachi. And why not. I live close by, the food is good, there’s so much to choose from on the menu, and the small portions mean I can dabble and order lots of little plates.
I came here for my birthday dinner, as I did the year before. Except this year I thought it would be a good idea to make a reservation for it and speak with the chef beforehand on a set menu to eliminate confusion over orders and prices for those who need to watch their dollars. I knew there would be a couple vegetarians – or pescatarians – attending, plus vegetables make the meal healthier and a little less expensive, so I requested Ken-san focus on vegetables and fish, with just a little beef, pork and chicken.
It worked out splendidly, and everyone at Kobachi put forth a wonderful meal that was stress-free for all attending. My friends also did me proud by 1. rsvp-ing and actually showing up. And 2. Showing up *on time*! Really, this is Santa Barbara, and when everyone on the rsvp list shows up, on time, it’s a minor miracle. I’m really blessed to have good and cool friends.
There were 20 of us, taking over the new expanded space with the murals. The Kobachi staff decorated the space with long tables, birthday table cloths and plates, and sprinkled everything with confetti. FUN! They also provided a gift of a few snacks, a bottle of shochu and oolong tea. It is my favorite drink there and now I could share it with all my friends.
Upon arrival, a buffet table had been laid out, with empty bowls containing a slip of paper with the name of the dish written on it. It felt like Christmas, knowing there would be a lot of presents to open shortly, and everyone was excited. I wasn’t able to take photos of everything, being distracted by talking to friends, but Ted Mills got most of the dishes, even if he had to get a photo of a small portion off his own plate. Generally, the portions were approximately like receiving a double order, but there were a few when there was one item per person, such as sushi rolls or oysters. Want to see the feast? Here goes!
First, are some salads. Seaweed salad, a mixed salad of cucumber, tomato and seaweed, and hjjiki – warm black seaweed salad.
Cold fish dishes included a plaste of salmon sashimi with a tangy carpaccio sauce, and tuna in a dark smokey sesame oil sauce. Also, slow cooked vegetables and mushrooms served warm.
Four fillets of aburi saba then made an entrance, and all the fine slices were quickly scooped up and consumed…a lot by me!
Rolls included a seared salmon with avocado and asparagus, a smelt roe roll, and some other roll that I did not eat, or get photos of. There was one grilled beef dish that delighted a few meat eaters, but it was also very filling! We also had grilled eggplant nigiri.
There was one fat oyster for every person attending, and platter of sauteed vegetables.
One dish I never quite identified (lower left) was piled with cooked marinated vegetables and I believe it was a sweet-sour chicken. If only I could remember the name, but I’m fairly certain I did not have the opportunity to eat it, or I’d remember more details. There was also a big tofu dish, but this plate was massacred by hungry friends before we could get a photo of it. Oops.
Now, we are happy and drunk. No chance getting a photo of the aji miso yaki. The picture on the plate is rather unappetizing looking, but trust me, it was yummy. These were snapped up in a hurry, I’m not sure I tried any myself!
One more round of sushi, with a piece of shiitake nigiri for everyone and it was time for dessert. My parents showed up partway through the meal with two homemade cakes, and a few more chairs (the restaurant had completely run out!). Their cakes were an almond cake, and an eggwhite pavlova. Yoko, my favorite waitress there, brought a cheesecake! Thank you, Yoko!
After blowing out the candles, we feasted on cake, chattered more, and then it was time to settle up the bill. I’m happy to say the folks at Kobachi got a nice tip. It was a great birthday dinner!
Kobachi Izakaya Dining
When friends visit from out of town, especially friends from the Bay Area who have plenty of access to wonderful food, the only place that provide a wonderful, memorable experience just by its very existance is Kobachi.
Mattpaul and Lisa were passing through for a couple days and this was Stop Number One.
We started the evening with a glass of shochu with oolong, and a flight of sake, letting Yoko pick the sake selection.
A few courses where Ted Mills took the photos:
Top: Shiitake nigiri, uni shooter.
Finally, we shared an assortment of sashimi, and let the chef choose. We are not completely sure all that we ordered, but there was definitely toro filet and belly, uni, and two other kinds of fish. The belly was particularly melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Not everyone was an uni fiend, but that did mean more for those who were.
Kobachi Izakaya Dining