Natto ruled at Friday’s (belated) Natto Day dinner, but not in the way you’d expect. At Nonstop’s request, Pig and the Lady took on the latest challenge of the fermented bean, and where others brought the full funk to the fore (Izakaya Naru, 2011; Tokkuri-Tei, 2012) or blended it with flavors from around the world (Grant Kawasaki at Dash Gastropub, 2013), Pig and the Lady tamed it, making the stinking umami a subtle hint on a menu of haute creations.
The Pig’s Andrew Le took the challenge literally. “I told my guys this is a good lesson — to take something that not everybody likes, and make it into something everybody can like,” he said. “It was hard. I’d stay up til 5 in the morning, thinking, thinking. We were going over ideas. We didn’t know how the courses would work together. And then I heard you needed the menu, and in 40 minutes I finished it. Everything fell into place. We knew it would work.”
Two amuse bouche starters, three main courses, a palate cleanser and a dessert. That’s only the outline. The promise of it drew to downtown’s Lemongrass Cafe last Friday more than 60 natto fans, many of them part of a local Facebook natto group, others Nonstop readers, still others Pig and the Lady addicts and the rest natto-starved souls who heard the rumors of an all-natto dinner.
Here it is in all its surprisingly slime-free glory (a first!), thanks to Scott Pang and Greg Sekiya from the Facebook natto group and to Pig and the Lady’s Andrew and Alex Le.