Chef Shota partners with Brewlab to bring new concept to Capitol Hill



Shota Nakajima teams up with Redhook Brewlab to bring new food+beer concept to Seattle

Chef Shota Nakajima is Seattle’s newest celebrity chef. Not just around here, over the past few years Chef Shota has captured the attention of the nation and the world. Now he’s teaming up with Redhook Brewlab to introduce Seattle to a new food concept. (Photo above from Instagram.)

Not only a top-three finalist on Bravo’s Top Chef, but Chef Shota was also selected as the “fan favorite” by the audience. His restaurant in Seattle, Taku, is a three-time James Beard Foundation Awards semi-finalist. That’s just the beginning of the long list of accolades. Chef Shota has over 150K followers on Instagram and is, basically, adored by everyone for his infectious laugh and smile, and of course for his talents in the kitchen.

The Dodger. Photo: Shota Nakajima.

Starting this Saturday, September 10th, Chef Shota brings his talent and vision to Redhook Brewlab in Seattle to open Kōbo, a new pizza concept that draws on his Osaka, Japan roots and is inspired by Detroit-style pizza. The rectangular pizzas will be cooked in steel pans with a thick, crispy crust and crispy cheese lattice around the sides. 


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“I was fascinated the first time I saw Detroit-style pizza,” says Shota. “Having trained in Osaka, which is known as the ‘starch city’ of Japan, I was inspired by things like Okonomiyaki and Takoyaki, which employ a starch base that is generally cooked over high heat in cast iron or black steel, with a signature crispy exterior and chewy interior. It was a natural step to utilize this similar ideology, and staying true to my culinary roots and training, employ the use of koji, nori, and mochiko flour to achieve both umami and a heavenly texture for our dough.” 

The Flatearther. Photo: Shota Nakajima.

Kōbo’s pizza is driven by technique. It’s described like this: the mochiko flour lends a chewy texture and slightly sweeter flavor to the dough, and a secret blend of cheeses achieves the signature crunchy-cheese lattice around the edge. The contrast in the chewy, fluffy pizza dough and crispy, crunchy edges gives a unique experience that makes every bite distinct. This textural contrast is a cornerstone of Japanese street food, and Kōbo draws heavily on inspiration from the cuisine of Osaka and beyond in creating this style of dough.


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That all sound amazing to me. Pair it with a tasty beer, and it sounds like heaven.

So how did Shota and Redhook Brewlab hook up? Chef Shota’s restaurant, Taku, has been neighbors with Redhook Brewlab since it opened two and a half years ago. In 2022 their friendly neighborhood relationship evolved into a conversation about partnering to merge Redhook Brewlab’s beers with his creativity and talent in the kitchen. With yeast being the correlative piece between both beer and pizza it was the natural inspiration and a chance to bring something new and different to Seattle. Kōbo is the Japanese word for yeast.


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The Grilled Cheese. Photo: Shota Nakajima.

“We could not be more stoked for our partnership with Chef Shota,” said Jason Dodson, Brand Manager at Redhook. “Anytime you get to work with a chef of his caliber it’s an incredible opportunity, but beyond that, I think there’s something particularly unique about the way Shota’s cooking will elevate the already incredible and complex beers that Joel Kosic is creating in our innovation brewery. We can’t wait for everyone to come try it, it’s going to be special.”

A beer collaboration is also in the works with Redhook and Nakajima: a Red Rice Koji Gose flavored with strawberry and raspberry called Rice for the Hill. It is described as light, refreshing, and finished with a touch of liquid koji. The result is a super round flavor and umami finish. The process began using cooked, short grain rice from Japan that was inoculated with red rice koji spores. Once fully fermented, it was cooked into the beer, and after the first ferment was finished, they added liquid koji, strawberry puree, and raspberry puree. 

Shredded Kale Salad. Photo: Shota Nakajima.

Kōbo Menu 

The menu at Kōbo focuses on pizza and American pub food while drawing on Chef Shota’s Japanese roots and training. A big vegetable eater, he wanted to focus on the local produce and seasonal ingredients to create dishes that offer something for everyone, including folks with gluten-sensitivity and folks who follow a vegetable-centric diet.  

Menu is subject to change and a sampling includes:

PLATES

  • Napa Cabbage Salad • Sesame Vinaigrette • Chili Crunch • All The Herbs
  • Shredded Kale Salad • Umami Caesar • Garlicky Crumbs • Sichuan Pepper
  • Salt & Pepper Broccoli Sweet Chili Sauce
  • Umami Tots Chili Jam Ketchup • Nostalgia
  • Corn Dog Nugs • lil’ smokies • hot mustard aioli • cabbage chow chow
  • Pretzel Bites • miso beer cheese • flakey salt

PIES 

Thick crust, square cut Detroit-style pizzas baked in a Woodstone Pizza Oven from Bellingham, WA

  • The Classic Mozz • Red Sauce • Basil
  • The Ginny • Diced Pepperoni • Mozz • Garlic Honey
  • The Dodger • Braised Beef • Cheddar • Cabbage • Tonkotsu • Kewpie
  • The Hot Neighbor • Taku Fried Chicken • Koji Hot Sauce • Jack Cheese • Cilantro
  • The Maverick • Yukon Potato • Crispy Broccoli • Cheddar • Pickled Chili
  • The Waylon • Spiced Ground Chicken • Cabbage • Red Onion • Herb Mix

SWEETS

  • Zeppole • Powdered Sugar • Seasonal Compote


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