Thursday, February 27, 2014

Japanese Cuisine in Toulouse, France.

 Indeed it was a good new experience for me to have dined in a Japanese Restaurant here in Toulouse. Obviously many people would say " Why go for Japanese cuisine in France?" which is a typical question one would get overseas. But the truth here is that, in different countries, the food is altered to the likings of the locals. However the food in this restaurant does not differ much in their authenticity of their cuisine.

               Motchiya isn't only the name of the restaurant, it's the name of the owner/chef as well. It looks  plain and simple from the exterior, but of course, its just a brasserie class cafe here.
As a standard pricing here in Toulouse, a set meal can range from 12 euros up till 18 euros for lunch. The menu for the day is Salmon Tataki with salad and Miso soup.

 The kitchen is rather small which can only accommodate 2 person at a time. Which is normal for a authentic  Japanese restaurant of course. That is the chef in the picture, unfortunately he wasn't looking at the camera.
   Perhaps you can imagine the space allocated in the kitchen here form the previous picture and this  combined. That would be the chef's wife. Yes both are Japanese immigrants.
The decor suits the environment as the space inside is very small. Minimal decorations of arts and small  collection of bottles here and there.

 Its the menu of Motchiya. This is only the drinks section and of course, its all in French. There's bottled drinks and at the bottom it's their home made drinks.
 The concept here in Motchiya is that, you eat what he cooks for you. You can't demand any orders as he will rotate his menu daily from Monday to Friday. He will offer a menu with rice and soup as well as a main dish, depending on the days as well. And as for the desserts, its pretty much a straight forward Japanese dessert.

 In case of any readers who are around Toulouse, here is the address at the back of the menu. Motchiya opens up Monday to Friday 12.00 pm till 7.00 pm, however there is a chance that he will close up early when he sells out his daily menu.

 Voila!! its the main dish of the lunch set, the Salmon Tataki with salad and rice. It looks magnificent as it is already. There's 2 different organic carrots in the salad, orange and yellow carrots, including romaine lettuce as well as blanched broccoli. Salmon wrap in the middle with sauteed and braised tofu. My eyes ate the food first before it has even touched my lips. Its brilliantly beautiful with so many different colours. Oh and not to forget, there's 4 different dressings on this dish, mango puree, garlic soy sauce, white sessame sauce, and plain soy sauce. It may sound complex but when you take a bite, its magnificent, full with harmony with flavours with different elements all together.
 Behold the salmon wrapped with Nori (dried seasoned seaweed) I had to take a close up pictures because its so pretty and attractive to my eyes.
 Indeed I was wondering, where is the rice? I seen Motchiya scooping out some brown coloured rice but it wasn't on my plate. and there you go, it was covered by the bed of vegetables. Plus, its not  brown rice, its merely red rice. which is said to be organic. First time I had such rice and it was really good, a little creamy and not so starchy as the common Japanese rice. I'm sure its packed with nutrients.
 This tofu that Motchiya sauteed and then braised with soy sauce with plum sauce, is really something that made me raised my eye brows. It looks just like a normal soy sauce braised tofu. But there is a catch, it is savoury and it has a smoky flavour to it. It is hard to resist after taking a bite. Its really worth having this sumptuous meal.

Behold the handsome Motchiya behind 4 wonderful jars of the sauces that I have mentioned earlier. From left to right, Sessame sauce, Mango puree, soy sauce and garlic soy sauce( if not mistaken)
 For my dessert , adding up another 2.50 euros. Matcha Dorayaki (green tea) with red bean paste and a slice of apple. Its pretty good, considering that this is my first time having Dorayaki and I cant compare it with another source.
Another interesting dessert that my friend had. A soy flan with a chestnut in side, topped with a base of mango puree and a chesty chestnut puree, raspberry and cuts of apple.

Total of my course here in Motchiya is 17 euros for a delicious lunch. I would definitely return another day during my off days to try out new mysterious dishes Motchiya would prepare.  Salut!  

Monday, November 25, 2013

Restaurant review 1. Toulouse, France

This is actually the second part of the food review that I posted up earlier today. However this is the restaurant review that I mentioned earlier.
So here are the list of dishes that are available under their 21.50 Euros menu.
There's prawn and smoked salmon verrine, beef carpaccio, pork ham bruchetta for starters.
And there's also duck confit, foie gras, scallop cassoulet, beef tartare and many more.
The restaurant only starts serving at 8pm onwards. 

Oh and not to mention, the restaurant is actually in the basement. As you can see the main interior is like a tunnel. It has two separate sections, above is the main section, and the other section is not shown. The left part where the waiter is standing, there is the micros for cashiering and on the right, there is the kitchen. I will show more about the kitchen later on. The restaurant wasn't ready to serve as their servers are not in yet, so we were told by the chefs to have a seat first, waiting for their staff.

Yes I was quite worried if I am actually entering a dungeon in Toulouse. It was dark at the staircase but as I arrive at the scene. It was quite pleasant, it gives off a warm mood, this really works well especially during winter season. Note the tourist in the picture, he seems pleased to be in the picture. In addition, this is a concept that is not really used back here in Malaysia, there is sofas for customers to wait while they can relax  and warm themselves up. It is a good concept, however with Asian customers, who doesn't like to wait much for their food, perhaps it may work in the mere future. 

As you can see for yourselves, the interior is really amazing. The walls and ceiling are connected with thin bricks, compiling one by one till it reaches the ceiling. I am still puzzled on how the ceiling can actually hold all the weight of the building built on top. When there wasn't any conversation, I would just stare at the walls and ceiling, thinking how much effort of sweat through the brows it took to build the entire basement. I can only imagine that this tunnel or rather basement could have been used during the second world war, however it still looks cool and beautiful at the same time. 

Yes the are quite a number of tables in the restaurant, approximately up to 50-70 pax total. Note there is also another section available. The atmosphere is quiet as we dined in because we were the first customer. But as the clock ticks, two by two and four by four, the crowd spills in, filling up the empty tables. The music, well of course, its French. I can hardly understand what they are actually singing, but the music that in motion, now that I can understand. Its slow moving, melancholic music, well this works goodly enough to blend in with the slow paced dining experience. It affects the mood when one does something together with music. I feel much relaxed after walking for quite a distance as we were sort of lost as we had no bearing around the Capitole.

Their style of table presentation is rather casual than a fine dining, really basic but with their own identity. Like any other restaurants, their glassware is placed on the table, and the guests will be served a bottle of cold water automatically. There's nothing unordinary about that.  And yes, in the meantime I can already smell my food being prepared by the chefs. My tummy has been growling for food since I ever had lunch, and in colder weather, we tend to eat more than usual. The food being prep smoulders the entire floor with fantastic odour and aroma. 

Well of course, in the land of glorious food, they have limited amount of staff in any working restaurants. In this particular one, there is only 2 chef and one kitchen helper to ooze out the dishes to the dining tables. Yes the service was great, and the food comes slowly, it is only logical to think that Europeans love to spend hours for dining. I didn't manage to ask the chefs to take a picture as they were really busy during the peak hours. One does not simply rush the waiters for their food, they will not be taken kindly. Again, that is part of the European culture context, particularly in the food service. Staffs are limited and the amount of paying guests are huge. 

Obviously this is not part of the restaurant, its just around the corner of the restaurant,  but what I am trying to show you is that, at 9pm in which the picture was taken, the busy streets of Capitole is completely empty. Not a single person that I can actually see within 500 meters ahead, Its probable that because of the rain, many have fled the area, but this is actually common in France or in most European countries. It would be impossible to see such scene in any part of Malaysia I would dare say, you can always see mamak (Indian Muslim cafe) stalls anywhere and its mostly till late at night. It was such a great experience having to dine in a French restaurant, a totally new experience for me. Personally it was really worth going and If the future allows, I would return for another round.

Food Review on the food in Toulouse, France.

This it the first dinner meal in Toulouse that I had with my classmate Yong. It was unfortunate that I did not manage to take picture of the restaurants name. I will make another post on the restaurant. The menu that I took, was valued at 21.50 Euros consisting of one starter and one main course. Adding a dessert to the meal will cost an additional 4 Euros. To start it off, I will show you the pictures of the food that I had that night.

For the starter. Please click on the picture below to view the full size image.

         This is the first part of the course, the starter. It is a prawn and smoked salmon salad marinated in sour cream served with grissini (bread sticks), endive, as well as the delicious horse radish salad. I started by eating the components of the dish one by one, first I try the prawn without the sour cream dressing. The prawn is moist and tender, then I try another prawn with the smoked salmon as well as the sour cream. However there was still no wow factor yet. Until, I mixed the whole cup of prawn and salmon together (note that the salmon is inside the glass marinated with the sour cream mix) I scoop it out with the tea spoon and place it on the endive and then, Wow. Yes, finally a wow, the flavours and everything is combined beautifully. In my taste buds, I can literally taste the ocean, the creaminess of the sour cream, well combined as sour elements works darn well with seafood. I cant show you my facial expression after having that bite, sadly because no one was there to take photo of my face. But I can tell you that it was really worth trying.

 I moved on to the horse radish salad. It was something really of Japanese influence, as not many French people (in my opinion) would really use a horse radish in their cooking. I have to tell you that the crispy fresh salad goes really really well with the spicy horse radish vinegarette. Imagine the salad is crispy and sensual with the addition of savoury sweet and spicy sauce. All the flavour combination is really really good. I wasn't a fan of horse radish, but with this sort of combination, I turned out to be one out of the blue moon.

The main course of the meal is the infamous Duck leg confit that most of us know, it is a famous dish from France. What is all about the duck confit? Well to put it simple, it is all because of the cooking process. The duck leg is trimmed, and immersed in duck fat filled with massive amounts of vegetables, fragrant herbs and whole black peppers, while traditionally it is just baked in duck fat without any additional ingredients. It is then baked in a slow oven for over 4 hours under low temperature. Before serving, usually the duck leg is pan fried till golden brown with a crispy skin.

Okay enough of introduction of the dish. As you can see the dish here, the crispy duck leg confit is served with a side salad of red capcicum salsa, a braised vegetables on the left, as well as a huge jacket potato with sour cream. I cant help to wonder but the restaurant uses alot of sour cream in their dishes. If you look closely, you will be surprised as I was, Notice the birds eye chili just next to the duck leg? I was really really surprised to see that present on a French dish, as far as I know, its very rare for the chili to be utilised by French people. I was thinking to myself, is this a joke? because I really didn't expect this. But as I try eating the duck with the chili. I was left speechless and I felt like I was in space, literally speechless for awhile. It was the best combination of food that I have ever had. The delicious yet moist and crispy duck with the chili, its really a good combination. No wonder why the chef had chosen the birds eye chili and put it together with the duck. The other side dishes, the red capcicum salsa was sauteed lightly, preserving the most of the freshness and the juiciness within. The braised vegetables however is just so so, its flavourful but the texture is dull and unattractive on the plate together with the gold mine. Coming to the final one, the jacket potato, im surprised that the French will put tin foil on the plate with the food, back in Malaysia, we are educated not to put un-edible food on the plate. The potato was okay, and perhaps more of the sour cream would be better.

Overall my experience with the food here is excellent, 21.5 Euros is worth the while hunting for the restaurant, and its totally worth the money. Not to mention a brand new dining experience. I would put up images on the next post of the restaurant.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Food Scene in Babylon.AD

This is the beginning part of the movie Babylon AD. Set in the future of Russia. As you can see, the protagonist purchases a hare(rabbit) from a local woman who is kind enough to give him an additional onion without charge. Further in the video, you can see the condition of the apartments that people live in, torn down, unmaintained, all possible from the war waged world of the future. However, no matter when or where, food still plays a major role, its only logical. Later on, you can see the main person butcher, prepare and cook the hare. It would seem that he has some profound culinary skills which will be explained further in the whole movie. As he cooks the hare, he uses red wine, which is a traditional way of cooking ones hare back in France. Despite all the comotion of the condition around the protagonist, the enviroment as such and the physical warfare in the future, you can observe that he is a religious man who prays before eating his meal. It may not be clear to whom that he may worship, but religion is in play. As he dines, he takes a bite of the hare and eats it with a sip of the red wine, this would mean that he is a man with good dining etiquette and knows how to properly enjoy the food, food and wine pairing to be exact. Even while being interrupted, he still holds on to his food, that would mean how precious food meant in the movie.

Monday, October 21, 2013

A cook show review in class

Martin Yan, cookshow review

The chef is very energetic, being able to attract full attention of the viewers. Giving information of the history about the location that the chef provides, will give out an insight towards the viewers that has not heard of or been to the particular area.  However the video that I had just watched is old, and the style of presentation of the food is more towards classical dishes. I have never expected to see this chef to be cooking a Kobe beef with a hot wok, it is just out of my imagination, but come to think of it, it should work well, but of course, do not do it in front of a French, you will only get criticised. 

Coming back to his own show, he shows how to check the freshness of the fish in his own way of explanation (bounce back) meaning that the flesh of the fish is still firm, it is a very Chinese way of explanation. His level of cutting technique is really amazing, especially when he is using a Chinese cleaver. The chef shows the proper way to coat the fish fillet in corn starch while explaining as he was doing it. Oh my goodness, the way he use the cleaver to crush a slice of ginger is amazing!, it just happens instantly, with the blink of an eye. Honestly it was jaw dropping for the whole 3 second. If this was done in the French way , it would take a lot of time, because well, its French, they like to spend lots of time doing something compared to the Chinese.  A high level of respect has to be given to chef Martin Yan. 

Slice and Dice (Maybe not dice) Of a beautiful tuna

One of the most enormous fish that we all can find. However it is also a very high priced fish in the market, especially in Japan. With the size of a single tuna like in the video, it can cost up to 20 thousand dollars, but it can also go up so 1.7million dollars depending on its quality as well of course. In this video, what you will witness is the tip top cutting skills of Japanese chef cutting a fresh tuna. Notice that the procedure in cutting a tuna is no simple task and it requires numerous years of cutting skills. Whenever you doubt yourself dining in a Japanese restaurant, because of the price of the fish, have a look here, see what it takes to cut the tuna, into its precise shape and size onto your dining plate. I have to say, this video here is magnificent, it looks so intriguing for me. And finally, its one of my goals of doing in life, to properly cut a tuna fish.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Previous trip to Korea. Month of august 2013

Recently I had just returned from my first 7 hour flight to Korea. It was back in Augusts. First Impression at the airport? Much better than I had expected really, its standard is much better than Malaysia where you have to walk to your plane, whereas at the airport in Korea, there are shuttle bus for pickup. "I feel wet" I told myself, because the weather there in Busan (Korea) was hot like Malaysia and its very damp, sweats was dripping down my brows. Luckily it the walking journey wasn't far away to the nearest LRT station. A relief to my fellow classmates who travel together, to get some cool air inside the train. We traveled, I think about 30 minutes to our destination, to our hostel near the beach of Busan. I was really excited to see the homestay/hostel for the first time. It was rather surprising and modern, equipped with most modern household appliances, a nice bed sharing with another 7 person in a room, a kitchen for preparing our own breakfast, as well as the most clean toilet I have ever seen in a sharing basis. The most funny experience or you could call it weird, is because the bathroom is a jointed bathroom, meaning 3 showers combined together without any doors, I was bathing while waiting for my friends to turn up, but none did, because all of them are waiting for turn to enter. Why this? Its because of cultural clash or rather culture shock. I would say that the "Southern Asian" people are less prone to sharing toilets and having water-less toilet and might have some difficulties adjusting to it while having a long stay in northern Asian countries like Japan or Korea for example. I often wondered when I was there. "why is everything is the same everywhere?" You cans see the exact same type of wooden flooring in 2 different district that is 5 hours drive away. Even the toilet concepts are the exact same, you don't have a water hose inside and you will see a dustbin for littering. I have to say, the most notable similarities they have around in Korea is their alarm system, It's called ADT. Don't get me wrong about their properties being the same from the same company. I thought that, it was probably because the Government has a policy of allowing the number of companies creating the same thing, and that's certain companies are monopolizing the market. As well as to avoid too much taxation to the companies that may emerge and may not be able to attain enough business. Foood! one of the main reason why i wanted to go to Korea. As a culinary student, its a curiosity of mine to explore new food that exists in other country and cultures. As we all can expect from Korea, they have lots and lots of Kimchi. But, this time is not just all about that, its about the main dishes as well. The most bizarre seafood i had is like a worm, bloated, large and red. By the time it was served to my table, it was still moving. Worst part is I could see the worm's tooth or rather thorn because it was hard like aluminium toothpick. Myself, I am a person who is highly phobic towards worms and anything that looks like worm, due to my previous injury. And now i have to try eating one? "I hate myself" seriously, sometimes i wanted to do something that is beyond my likings. Thus without further delay, i picked up a lettuce, pick a small piece of the moving worm, add some soy sauce and wasabi. I hesitated for a while before biting into the moving worm. I was sort of terrified of putting a worm into my mouth, but i did. The taste is hard to describe, but it was super crunchy, it does not feel like I am eating a sea worm. Its so crunchy and loud white biting it. I did not really enjoyed the taste and texture, but it was a good experience to the beginning of the dining journey in Korea.