Kobe: Where East Meets (the Pacific North)west
Kobe Modern Japanese, at 96 N. Main Street alongside Ashland Creek, blends the best of Japanese tradition with fresh, healthy ingredients abundant in southern Oregon. The result is a delightful, delicious dining experience.
“In Japan, people love to escape from a hectic world to restaurants where they can eat and converse with friends in a relaxed setting,” says Nicole Hosoya Ruibal, who took ownership of Kobe 2017. “That’s why people come to Kobe—to slow down, take time to breathe, and relax.”
And to enjoy fresh, thoughtfully prepared, artfully presented dishes ranging from nigri and sushi to palate-pleasing platters. And perhaps to enhance the experience even more with a perfect pairing of sake, chosen from Kobe’s extensive selection.
Kobe was opened in 2007 by Billy Harto, and Nicole bought the restaurant in 2017 after working as Billy’s manager for years. She was drawn to Ashland by its natural beauty and the people.
“I was so impressed by the community,” she recalls. “I decided it was the perfect place to put my culinary knowledge to work. I’ve always had a passion for food, and for pairing wine and sake with food. When I had the opportunity to buy the restaurant, I was ready to bring these skills to the restaurant with a fresh eye.”
Her love of food was inspired early on.
“My family in Japan regularly sent boxes of food that was unavailable in most areas of the U.S. until just a few years ago,” she said. “My American diet was enhanced by interesting Japanese food throughout my life.”
On frequent visits to Japan, Nicole and her family visited restaurants in Osaka, Kobe, Tokyo, and Kyoto. And her grandmother and aunt were great cooks, she says.
Those connec-tions “imparted some wonderful Japanese sensibilities, such as hospitality and a dedication to excellence and creativity, which I am so grateful for. I try to bring those qualities to Kobe.”
Nicole strives to make Kobe as healthful and environmentally conscious as possible. The menu includes gluten-free and vegan options. “We use organic and locally grown food whenever possible and constantly search for suppliers of sustainably harvested fish,” she says.
She has also updated appliances to be energy efficient; reduced waste through careful inventory management; and the restaurant composts and recycles as much as possible.
Nicole wants customers to be delighted by every aspect of their visit to Kobe. “Eclectic fare can be intimidating,” she said. “We hope to make it exciting and inspiring to try new things.”
For more info or to make reservations, call 541-488-8058. You can also see them at kobeashland.com and on Facebook.