MOTOI opened in 2012 in Kyoto, a city teeming with famous Japanese restaurants. At that time, Modern French cuisine was not yet well-known in Kyoto, so the restaurant immediately garnered interest, and earned a Michelin star less than one year after opening. The charming space located in a renovated 100-year-old dry-goods dealer’s residence characterizes the essence of Kyoto with its front and back gardens, and its hospitality emphasizing the unification of the host and guest has brought increasing numbers of repeat guests from Japan and abroad.
In this video, MOTOI’s Chef Maeda discusses the techniques and ideas behind two of his original dishes, Hamo Beignet and White Asparagus Rice Noodle Salad.
Isn’t hamo (pike conger) an ingredient that brings Japanese cuisine strongly to mind?
Just because it’s French cuisine doesn’t mean that you can’t use Japanese ingredients. People in Kyoto like hamo, and this is the perfect kind of food to eat in early summer. We also use ayu (sweetfish) in the summer, and we have a tank set up so that customers can enjoy seeing the live ayu.
The hamo is simply deboned and fried, but watch and you’ll see that there’s a little trick to it.
First, I debone the hamo. This one has already been prepared in advance; I parboiled the hamo skin and removed the innards. Making the skin thinner gives it a better taste when eating it.
But the thin skin also makes deboning more difficult. If you handle it too roughly, it will fall apart.
I can use the white asparagus peel to make a good stock, so I don’t throw it away.
I parboil the asparagus together with the peel. The peel has a stronger aroma, so if I do this, the guest can taste a stronger essence of white asparagus while eating.
This white asparagus is a fresh ingredient sourced directly from France, but I also think it is delicious cooked like this and then chilled, rather than sautéed.
I parboil it to a certain point and then cool it. By cooling it together with its own stock, the savory flavor that came from boiling the peel will return to the white asparagus.
How do you come up with your ideas for this kind of cooking?
I think about cooking constantly. I see dishes at other restaurants, and especially on Cookpad. Though they are amateurs, it doesn’t matter. I even watch the cooking show Kyou no Ryouri.
There are cooking hints in all kinds of unexpected places, and there are also my discoveries. I am offering Motoi cuisine by opening doors and absorbing information without having strange hang-ups, and using my own style of trial and error.
By the way, this white asparagus and rice noodle dish is completely different in the end, but I got a hint from Chef Furuta of Kaikatei in Gifu, who has a dish using caviar and rice noodles.
186 Tawaraya-cho, Tomikojinijoji, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto
10-minute walk from Kyotoshiyakushomae Station on the Subway Tozai Line
Lunch 12:00-13:00 (last order: 13:00)
Dinner 18:00-20:00 (last order: 20:00)
Closed on Wednesdays and Thursdays *Closed days may vary depending on the month. Please see details on the website.