CAMDEN—Kurafuto, the long-awaited Japanese-style pub now open in Camden, completes restaurateur Matt Haskell’s vision of combining his Blaze Brewery with a menu of small plates, noodle bowls, and sushi.
“We’ve been open a week now and while sushi has been a big draw, people are really drawn to the noodle bowls,” said head chef Luigi Patelli. “The House Ramen, with Kurobuto pork shoulder pork belly, soft egg, nori and scallion, has been the favorite so far.”
Patelli, who moved to Maine to work as a chef in Bar Harbor in the early 2000s, and who formerly owned a restaurant in Key West, has made a menu of simple food commonly found at a Japanese street fair.
Chris Wolf, who shares the kitchen, makes the sushi and sashimi.
Wolf is known locally, having prepared sushi at Mikado's Japanese Restaurant in Camden for a number of years. A sushi chef for 30 years, he studied under sushi masters Aki Yaguchi in West Hollywood, California, and Kiyomi Mikasa in Key West, Florida.
Using locally sourced ingredients where possible, the small plates range from $9 to $12.
“We have a traditional charcoal grill to do the short ribs, and Yakitore, which is the traditional chicken on a stick as well as the Karaage, which is like a Japanese-style fried chicken,” said Patelli. “These are probably our most popular appetizers so far.”
The Noodle Bowls are prepared using predominantly Japanese flavors, but the menu also include a Vietnamese Pho with Vermont Wagyu beef, basil, chilis, cilantro, sprouts and lime with rice noodles.
The “garage door” window of the establishment can be pulled up on nice days so that a row of seating at the counter faces outward into the harbor lot with glimpses of the ocean. There is more counter seating on the second floor, adjacent to Blaze’s glass-encased brewing equipment. The high-end fast casual restaurant is modeled after an izakaya, a type of informal Japanese pub where people go to after work for a casual drink and bite.
Blaze Brewery is finalizing its last steps to be operational and expects to be able to deliver its first output of signature beers in three weeks. For now, guest taps are sourced from all over the United States as well as Maine and New England with a variety of styles to complement the Asian fare. In addition, Kurafuto also offers Sake, wine, cocktails and Japanese whiskies.
Photos by Kay Stephens
Kay Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org