Now you can have Japanese-Italian cuisine in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Update November 2020: I’m sad to report Papa Shogun recently closed due to COVID-19. For more ideas on how to support your favorite restaurants during this trying time, read this post. For more Triangle content, peruse my Ultimate Guide.
I was so intrigued when I was invited to a media preview of a new concept by Chef-Owner Tom Cuomo in Raleigh. Chef Cuomo pioneered the first Japanese-Italian cuisine restaurant in Raleigh. The menu showcases Japanese ingredients in classic Italian dishes. You’ll also find creative hybrids from both cultures, like the Chicken Parm Ramen. I had a great night with other food writers in the area a couple of months ago and returned again this past week on my own. Now I want to help spread the word about Papa Shogun!
So who is the person behind this unique concept? Chef-Owner Tom Cuomo worked under Wylie Dufresne at WD-50, Mario Carbone, and Rich Torrisi at Carbone and Parm in New York City. He recently also worked under Matt Kelly at Mateo Bar de Tapas in Durham, NC. Papa Shogun is his first solo restaurant project, and he’s already making waves!
These spice dusted popcorn or poppukon are playful snacks to pop in your mouth as you wait for your culinary adventure.
This yaki onigiri with a red sauce was such a whimsical take on yaki onigiri. In case you’ve never had or heard of yaki onigiri, onigiri is a traditional rice ball in Japanese cuisine. Yaki onigiri translates to “grilled rice balls.” They’re popular dishes at izakayas.
The crusty bread served with the NC Shrimp Scampi was perfect for sopping up that dashi, togarshi, miso, lemon butter broth. I could make a meal of just a big bowl of this shrimp scampi and crusty bread.
Chef so kindly sent this spigarello dish to our table during my last visit. I complimented him on his vegetables on my way out. I told him that I rarely order vegetables on my own but I love what he does to them!
He joked and said, “I know my vegetables and pasta! Everything else, I’m mediocre.” Humble and funny! He had charred broccoli during the menu preview that had a zesty lemon and sesame dressing that worked so well. And now this spigarello dish which I wouldn’t have ordered on my own. The umani flavors on this wilted spigarello had me coming back often, happy bite after happy bite.
And speaking of vegetables and broccoli, we ordered the special Broccoli Tempura during my second visit. I went to eat with my friend Erin who is a pescatarian who loves her veggies. I told her how much I enjoyed the charred broccoli during my first visit, so we shared the broccoli tempura. As we were eating this, Erin said, “Oh my. I can’t believe how happy my mouth is right now.” The broccoli tempura was dusted in the same togarashi spice mix as was on the popcorn. It gave this tempura dish a light kick!
When I saw Chicken Parm Ramen on the menu, I knew I had to order it even if it meant straying from my favorite dish Chef Cuomo makes (more on that later!). I sometimes add cheese to my ramen at home and have seen parmesan as an add-on at top ramen shops, but chicken katsu parm ramen sounded wild! It was a fun change from ramen. As someone who has eaten countless bowls of ramen with interesting twists, this dish didn’t rank very high in my experience; but it’s definitely worth a try. How often would you get a chance at seeing what a Chicken Parm Ramen would taste like? Experience it for yourself and let’s compare notes!
(If you’re interested in a comprehensive noodle guide to the Triangle, read this post of mine!)
This mushroom buttery linguine plate made my table of food writers groan in delight during our media night. Can you go wrong with buttery pasta with mushrooms? This dish is a crowd-pleaser and I think you’d like it too.
Behold! My favorite pasta dish at Papa Shogun. This kombu gnocchi were umami pillows of pleasure. Kombu is an edible kelp popular in East Asia. If there’s one thing on Papa Shogun’s menu that I insist you trying, it’s this gnocchi.
So do I recommend Papa Shogun? Yes.
I highly recommend Papa Shogun to people who enjoy classical Italian food and want to partake in some adventure.
I don’t, however, recommend Papa Shogun to food purists who don’t enjoy fusion or creative spins on classic dishes.
Must-orders at Papa Shogun: Kombu Gnocchi, anything Chef Cuomo does with broccoli, fresh pulled warm mozzarella (not photographed but thoroughly enjoyed.)
So, tell me about a surprising dish you recently had, friends. Leave me a comment below!Papa Shogun
111 Seaboard Ave #118, Raleigh, NC 27604
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