Boom Noodle's Jonathan Hunt has been tinkering with the ramen recipe since the restaurant opened. (There are now three Booms, including the original on Cap Hill, one in Bellevue, and the latest at U-Village.) We're squealing with delight about the addition of tonkotsu, the creamy pork broth-based ramen. Hot diggity dog! Of course, the restaurant's not just a palace for carnavores. Boom's biggest seller: the dreamy edamame puree. Read part one of this week's Grillaxin for more.
SW: Boom's menu is very pigcentric. What's your favorite cut of pork?
Hunt: If you look through Japanese ramen magazines, you are hard-pressed to find ramen with something other than pork. I respect that. Pork belly is, without question, my personal favorite. The flavor is unmatched and its final texture is so versatile and left to the chef's discretion. This past year I roasted a whole pork belly for Christmas dinner.How much of your time is spent developing new dishes for the restaurants?
We are in a constant state of development. It's the most enjoyable part of the work. Since we opened we have updated the menu three times, each time broadening what is still our central concept, Japanese-inspired cuisine, to include flavors from all over Asia. I am involved in daily production with the head chefs from each location. We meet biweekly to discuss our new ideas and customer feedback on what we currently have and what they or we might like to see.
Our goal is to make every dish great for everyday dining, but not be afraid of pushing the envelope to keep it interesting. For example, you would not find fresh jalapeno in traditional okonomiyaki, but we loved the added complexity it offered the dish.
What's been your biggest hit so far?
Edamame puree. From day one, this small plate has resonated well with our guests and is my favorite example of using traditional Japanese flavors and ingredients combined in a nontraditional way. It is currently being sold at Interbay's Whole Foods, and is a work in progress with other local retailers.
What kind of kitchen did you work in before Boom?
At Lowell Hunt catering, there were three main aspects I focused on in my kitchen: Culinary Honesty (cutting-board truth), Dedication, and Bob Dylan. Anyone who ever thrived at LHC had the love for these particular components and practiced them all day, every day. As caterers, our focus was extremely broad, with a particular expertise on European cooking techniques and Northwest ingredients.
If you had a friend coming to Boom for the first time, what would you send out for him/her?
Edamame puree, Okonomiyaki, Tokyo Ramen, and Yuzu Eggdrop Ramen. And for him a White Peach Sapporo, so he would have to admit he liked it, and for her, a Yamazaki Whiskey Sour because Venus or Mars makes no difference.
What do you like to cook at home?
As my resume might suggest, I am all over the board at home: French, Japanese, Vietnamese, Italian, and Mexican are the drivers. As far as a particular meal whenever I have energy/time, I love to make breakfast. Dutch babies with brown butter, turbinado sugar, and lemon/yuzu are a favorite!
What's your favorite culinary destination?
I have eaten at Gary Danko in San Francisco on four different occasions and am destined to go back again and again. Without question, it is my favorite restaurant. In its food, service and setting, there is not a single weak point.
Check back for part three of this week's Grillaxin for a recipe from chef Jonathan Hunt.