There are some ingredients that just work naturally together. Olive oil and balsamic. Milk and eggs. Peanut butter and jelly.
But soy sauce and butter? On pasta? Believe or not, it's a pairing short of heaven sent. And who might have attempted this? Some world-renowned molecular gastronomic alchemist?
In this case, the second coming of Tustin's Japonaise Bakery & Cafe, which has recently been transformed into a donburi/pasta/curry joint.
It should be no surprise however. It was, after all, Japanese experimentalists dabbling in east-meets-west fusion that has given us such dishes like uni spaghetti and mentaiko pasta (which is also on the menu, by the way).
But until this dish, I never heard of soy sauce and butter being uttered in the same breath, much less occupying the same plate. Together they amount to a pasta sauce that has a surplus of umami, the fifth flavor -- a word also coined by the Japanese, which loosely translates to "savory delicious."
The butter rounds out the soy sauce's saltiness; and the soy keeps the butter from becoming too rich. And then there are the sauteed mushrooms, which soak up and marry the two flavors in an even more concentrated form inside themselves.
Slices of breast meat chicken were also in the dish. But the fact that they were slightly overcooked can be easily forgiven because of the goodness that surrounded them -- soy sauce plus butter equals culinary kismet.
Japonaise Bakery & Cafe
600 El Camino Real
Tustin, CA 92780