Sugar Rush: Green Tea Ice Cream Sandwich at Miyabi 45th, Seattle
A soba restaurant isn't a place you'd ordinarily consider special for sweets, but you shouldn't consider Miyabi 45th an ordinary restaurant. Chef Mutsuko Soma makes soba noodles from scratch using buckwheat from Washington state, then uses them in a wide variety of cold and hot preparations from zaru soba to soba in soup with duck and leek. In addition to starters and sides like foie gras tofu, uni shots, and beef tartare Gangnam style, you'll find other buckwheat items scattered in the menu, such as housemade agedashi soba tofu.
Buckwheat also plays a major role in a dessert I recently enjoyed at Miyabi 45th: a Green Tea Ice Cream Sandwich ($6). The buckwheat cookies are crisp (though intentionally softer than the small, M-shaped cookies that come with a simple order of ginger or green tea ice cream) and have a pleasantly earthy smell. They're slightly sweet, and have the same subtle nuttiness you'll find in the soba noodles.
A flattened scoop of green tea ice cream fits between two buckwheat cookies. There's a drizzle of molasses-like kuromitsu on top of the sandwich and on the plate, as the touch of bitterness and sweetness in the "black honey" makes it a perfecting pairing with the earthy green tea. A dusting of powdered sugar and kinako powder add more sweet and nutty (soy-based kinako is somewhere between peanut and sesame in flavor) notes to the dessert. A few sweetened (almost caramelized) azuki beans finish the plate.
About the author: Jay Friedman is a Seattle-based freelance food writer who happens to travel extensively as a sex educator. An avid fan of noodles (some call him "The Mein Man"), he sees sensuality in all foods, and blogs about it at his Gastrolust website. You can follow him on Twitter @jayfriedman.