Julia Momose Shares Some of the Inspirations behind Highly Anticipated Kumiko

By J.P. Anderson | October 19, 2018 | Food & Drink

Mixologist extraordinaire Julia Momose pays homage to her Japanese heritage—and a gamut of other influences—at the year’s most anticipated new bar, Kumiko.

(Photo by Sammy Faze)

Hotshot chefs and bartenders are a dime a dozen in this talent-loaded town, but it’s a much rarer delight when stars partner up. That’s why Chicago’s epicurean community is counting the days till the opening of Kumiko, the brainchild of former GreenRiver and Aviary mixologist Julia Momose with Oriole chef Noah Sandoval and GM wife Cara.

“It’s going to be a challenge,” laughs Momose of the ambitious bar program she’s set to unveil (including a highly customized omakase experience), “but I’m excited to work with the team to make it come to life.” Here, some of Momose’s prime inspirations behind the new project.

(Photo by Tom Copi/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

“I’ve been listening to a lot of Japanese jazz from the ’60s and ’70s, like Toshiko Akiyoshi—her album Salted Gingko Nuts is wow.”

(Photo by Zaza Bertrand)

“In Ghent, Belgium, there’s a bar called Jigger’s the Noble Drugstore, and the way they do things with fermentation and behind-the-scenes work, and how hospitable they are, it’s one of my favorite bars in the world.”

(Photo by Sammy Faze)

“At secondhand and antique stores in Japan, we discovered some beautiful glasses by companies that don’t make glassware anymore. When it breaks, it’s gone forever, which makes it even more special.”

(Photo by Sammy Faze)

“Kumiko is a women's name, but also a very old, hard-to-find woodworking technique, with pieces of wood cut precisely and fitted together into a framework of gorgeous patterns. It’s all done by hand, and we’re excited to have some actual elements of kumiko in the space.”

(Photo by iStock.com/NAITO8)

“One thing I could see on the menu is takoyaki—octopus with batter and scallions that cooks in a cast iron skillet into perfect little balls, then topped with sauce. It makes a great bar snack alongside a highball.”

(Photo by Patricia Castellanos/AFP/Getty Images)

“I’ve been working to develop a mezcal liqueur, so I’ve gone to Oaxaca, Mexico, several times in the past year. The colors, the heat, the vibrancy, the smells—everything is so overwhelming and intoxicating and bold, and discovering that has been an awakening for me.”

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