If you don't book now, just say Sayonara, cuz this is too cool.
Monday, June 9, at 6:30 p.m. The Back Bay Inn introduces its first, rotating Taste the World Guest Chef Series. The inaugural evening features Japanese cuisine from chef Paul Motoyoshi. This five-course excursion into Japanese fare is paired thoughtfully with several varieties of sake' (of varying temperatures) and a plum wine. The evening ends with matcha green tea.
Better known as the popular fixture selling hot soup, ethnic foods and teas at the Vashon Island Grower's Association Saturday market, Motoyoshi cooked and taught cooking professionally at venues throughout Seattle including Uwajimaya, PCC Consumer Coops and served many private functions. He learned Japanese cooking including tea ceremony haute cuisine, Japanese restaurant and diner cooking, and exotic, special occasion New Year's cooking from his family, their chef friends and numerous teachers. Motoyoshi also apprenticed as a sushi chef with T. Fujimori (sensei) in his Los Angeles restaurant.
In creating the menu for the Back Bay Inn, Motoyoshi let the ideas come to him, much in the same serendipitous way the opportunity to work with Inn proprietors Victoria Davies and "Stormy" Storms occurred.
"I'll say that my spirit is prepared from decades of cooking. The muses know where to find me. I have no plan or agenda when I write a menu," Motoyoshi says. "I sit down, pray and prepare a menu. New dishes are always entering the stream, so that the diner experiences a sense of discovery. It's a movement of spirits, drawn to community, expressed in the idea of food."
Beyond a soothing tonic, sake' can be a spiritual experience for some. For Motoyoshi, he says he appreciates the craft of the sake' maker and pictures the craftsmen when he tastes the sake. At home on the rare occasion he takes in sake', he'll heat it and take in the different tastes through temperature gradations, where one can peel back the layers of flavor of a sake.
Both of Motoyoshi's parents came from Japan. He grew up assuming everyone spoke Japanese and knew how to cook. He finds in Americans there is a great misconception that "Japanese cuisine consists of eating difficult things from the sea, and that we eat them raw," he says.
At first glace, Motoyoshi's menu may appear exotic. In reality, he'll tell you the ingredients are commonly available at most Asian grocery stores.
"The key is taking an ingredient and going one more step, then one more step again, and then one more step after that - or until it tells you when to stop. It's to serve a dish whose ingredients have 'peaked' ."
Tix are $100 per person plus tax and gratuity; (206) 463-5355. Back Bay Inn is located at 24007 Vashon Hwy SW. (photo is of Paul behind my boys at the market)