My love of simple, seasonal, regional Japanese food goes back to my early career cooking at Bistro Shima in Tokyo. On a return visit to Japan a few years ago, I fell hard for kombu, a glutamate-rich kelp that typifies the savory flavor known as umami. I add kombu to a rich onion consomme and serve it at Gramercy Tavern over locally grown and milled spelt pasta that's similar to soba noodles. It's a beautiful pairing. The kombu adds a discreet backdrop to the dish, not so much ocean-y as earthy. —Michael Anthony, Gramercy Tavern, New York City

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