Moto is found in the meat packing district of Chicago. Unlike other cities where the meat packing district has now been overrun, this meat packing district is still full of butchers and trucks carrying carcasses and their processed goods to their destinations. It seems to definitely stand out on its own.

Moto is much smaller than I thought it was going to be with room for probably no more than 50 or 60 covers. The greeting area is just as small and there is only one set of toilets available for each gender. Décor is understated with only a curtain hanging from one side of the room and a mirror with wooden panels on the other.

This restaurant is yet another one of those that specialise in using modern cooking techniques, ala Fat Duck and Il Bulli with this chef’s speciality known as creating edible paper creations jam packed with printed flavours. They offer a 20 course tasting menu and a 10 course tasting menu and we were pretty happy with the latter one.


Our first dish was an assortment of small flavours, served complete with the menu printed onto edible paper and then propped up against a thin slice of garlic toast.


I can’t really remember all the little flavours but you can see the toast sitting atop some whipped butter, a poached garlic bulb with some toasted sesame seeds. And I think the black dots were balsamic but can’t really remember what the green sauce was.

The next dish was a trio of dishes made to look like a breakfast, yet cleverly made with savoury flavours. On the left was a shrimp cake, a breakfast “gazpacho” made with, what looked like, tiny scrambled eggs and then the item to the right what looks like an egg is actually a puffed garlic, deliciously light and delicate dotted with a yolk that was made out of corn reduction. The shrimp cake was firm and crisp, the gazpacho packed full of summery tomato flavours.


Our next dish, the “instant risotto” was made out of puffed rice, topped with a roasted piece of flaky piece of fish and made with some English peas and micro grains. They had already poured a soup into it, and we were asked to mix it together until it really became the consistency of risotto.


Here’s the result:


Whilst not working perfectly (I think there was too much soup) we all agreed it was a tasty dish. The puffed grains of rice gave that crisp contrast to the dish, almost giving it the firmness you’d expect from properly cooked arborio rice.

The next dish was a baguette and gruyere cheese whipped together, pasted to the side and then brûléed to give it some additional caramel notes. The spoon sitting on the centre had brown onions that had been cooked on the spoon itself, with an onion broth being poured at the table. On top of all this sat a home made, dehydrated and then puffed onion ring towering magnificently above the entire dish.


Our next dish was the pequin capon (a variant of some sort of chicken). I can’t really remembering the details of what this dish was served with but I do remembering thinking how tasty it all was. One of my fellow diners commented on the excellent plating (which I thought looked like a fish) but him noticing the tiny sliver of celery leaf on the sauce used to offset the entire look.


It also came served with an edible paper in a small plastic bag, brushed the flavour of buffalo chicken wings. It had some great kick to it.


The next dish definitely wowed us all, presented as the cuban pork sandwich and presented as if it were a cuban cigar sitting inside an ashtray. Cleverly made with vine leaves wrapping a cuban pork mixture inside, with a ring of edible paper acting as the cigar paper) and then sitting in a pile of, what looked like, ashes. These ashes, of course, weren’t like any other, made with a combination of black and white sesame seeds and then a cuban spice mixture. Absolutely delicious and something that was definitely memorable.


Our “reuben lasagna” was made with a crisp flake soaked in dill sauce, topped with home made thousand island sauce, and then layered with different items. It was also dished up with some dill pollen which had a surprisingly strong flavour. I can’t remember exactly what was in the middle of this as well.


Our next dish, made to look like an Italian cannoli was yet another sweet looking dish made out of savoury items. The wrapper, a fried tortilla holding a deliciously divine duck mixture, came served served with jalapeno powder and a deep, complex mole sauce.


I’d never had mole sauce before, and if this was anything to go by, I’d definitely order some more again. The jalepeno powder had that delicate, melting in the mouth flavour leaving just enough kick to tell you of its origins.


The happy face was a combination of passionfruit and raspberry sorbets, sitting atop a mint pesto and served with fresh raspberries, a raspberry sauce and coconut ice. Although I thought it would have been too many flavours yet it turned out to work perfectly, making it an excellent palette cleanser and a lovely tropical theme.


This corn cake was steamed and served with some candied corn and a rich brown butter sauce. It was surprisingly light and airy.


Our final trio of desserts was amazing starting with a “bomb”, filled with liquid graham cracker, covered in chocolate, with a sugar “wick” that they actually set on fire.


The next was a mini hamburger, this time sweet acting like savoury with the bread made out of sweet brioche, topped with sesame seeds, the burger patty being a peanut butter mixture, and the cheese (a banana purée), the tomato ketchup (maraschino purée) and the only real thing in there being a real piece of iceberg lettuce. The trio was finished off with a chocolate mousse log (picture not shown), light and delicate but definitely out-wowed by the other two dishes.


It was so impressive that we asked to see if we could have another of the diabetes-inducing yet spectacular bomb. Surprisingly, our waitress said she’d see the kitchen would try and so we ended up with five more sparkling bombs at our table. Yay!


I had a wonderful time dining with my four other guests (Ron, Ajit, Alistair and Tom) experiencing the delicious and complex flavours all presented in an inspiring environment. Whilst not cheap (USD200 including a starting cocktail, a bottle of wine and a large bottle of beer) it was definitely a great experience.

Name: Moto Restuarant
Found at: 945 W Fulton, Chicago, IL, USA

Restaurant Paustian v. Bo Bech

Copenhagen definitely wins my heart as one of the best places to dine out (especially taking into account the relatively small number of people living there.) So before leaving Copenhagen I thought it’d be a great opportunity to visit yet another one of the many Michelin-starred places in Copenhagen, Restaurant Paustian v Bo Bech. Located much further north than I’d ever been before, this restaurant is found near the harbour in a strangely industrial-looking area yet perfectly charming on the warm sunny summer evening we went. The best way to get here is definitely by taxi and it cost something like DKK90 to get there from near Tivoli or the main central station in Copenhagen.

Service was very nice with a very warm welcome as we entered the building with lots of smiles. We were invited to have an apertif, choosing to go with their house recommendation of champagne mixed with freshly pressed apple juice, perfect for the summery feel. They even brought a little stool to place my camera on so that I didn’t have to hang it over my chair or leave it on the floor.

Before getting into the real meal, they brought out a selection of appetisers, the first being described as Mini cucumbers marinated with lime. Perfectly bite sized I was amazed by how strong the cucumber taste cut through the zesty lime flavour. It looked elegant atop what almost looked like a glass petri dish.

Here’s a picture of the very elegant ring surrounding our table napkin. Weirdly enough whenever someone left the table, they never bothered to re-fold the napkin, instead choosing to take it away and replace it with a newly folded one served with silver tongs and off a silver platter. A little bit wasteful but a nice touch for service nevertheless.

Here’s the second part of our appetisers, fried onion rings topped with a salty paste, a perfect compliment for the sweet onion ring. We think that it was some sort of onion reduction but whatever it was, I found it extremely tasty.

This brightly coloured dish was Carrot with passionfruit and flowers picked from the garden. The carrot was gently cooked, still retaining some of its crunchiness with the other flowers enhancing the sweetness in slightly different ways.

Intentionally served without a spoon (encouraged to eat it how we’d like), the next dish was a mushroom soup. Even without picking up the dish, you could smell the strong earthy tones from the strong flavours contained in the broth. Perfectly seasoned and fun to drink!

Our next dish was Steamed Celeriac on a truffle reduction, a perfect follow on from the previous dish. The strong flavours of the truffle carrying on where the mushroom picked up but with the contrast of the celeriac bringing fresher and sharper contrast to the meal.

Five appetisers was a great start to the meal, with the next dishes to follow part of the Alchemist Menu, or as described on the menu, “Surprise menu – Forward mindset with respect for the classic kitchen”. In the meantime the waiters brought out three different types of bread to nibble on with two different types of butter (organic Danish butter, and a deliciously nutty Beurre Noisette).

The bread was certainly spectacular and had a lot of flair. As you can see from the picture above, the malt crisp bread was a hollowed out crisp bread that provided the lighter contrast to the other two breads – one a sourdough bread made from the Bo Bech Bakery, and the other a licorice-topped buttermilk roll. Strange certainly but it’s obviously a favourite flavour for many Scandinavians.

The first dish in the surprise menu arrived, named Danish oysters, oyster cabbage, pumpkin puree, mustard powder, fried vegetables (cauliflower, corn). Visually it seemed like there were many different things going on although what surprised me was the mellowness of the mustard powder (the white stuff) when eaten with the other ingredients on the plate.


Next to arrive was the Flaked atlantic cod with a tomato reduction, a hearty serve of fish perfectly cooked and the tomato strong yet not overpowering the delicate fish flavour. A great pairing of the two different flavours as one could easily have outweighed the other given different choices of species or methods of preparation.

The next dish, Poached Pouisson with heated egg yolk, ash, herbs (mint, sage), new potatoes also had a lot going for it but was certainly spectacular. I found it interesting how the combination of different herbs provided so many different flavours in surprising combinations. It could have been disastrous with one not quite properly mixing with another one yet was perfectly balanced so you never ended up with too many herbs in the mouth at the same time. Once again, a perfectly cooked egg yolk (firm whites and soft runny yolk) added a level of decadence to this dish that really helped boost it beyond just a plain and simple dish.

Yet another round of meat ensued with Pigs cheeks with fried onion, mustard oil . Out of all the meat dishes I think I really enjoyed this dish the most despite a comment from someone else at the table about the cheeks having an intensely strong flavour. I think the mustard provided that contrast needed from the pork being overwhelming and I found it delightful to have such small portions have so much impact.

Okay, so the cheese wasn’t officially on the menu (it was an additional cost) yet it was intriguing as they had the two cheese rounds sitting in the middle of the dining room where they would shave it live for everyone. The concept behind this was to have two cheeses from the same region, made from the same milk, and to enhance the comparison by experiencing the results of different preparation methods. One cheese was aged up to 36 months, the other only around 18 months yet both still weighing approximately the same. This was served with a light bread made with rye and a splash of sugar beet syrup on the side.

The first of the desserts arrived after the cheese, the first being a Milk crust ice cream, oxidised rye bread and ale, and a light creamy centre . It was a really delicate dish and a very nice way to start desserts.

The final dish was spectacular being described as Raspberries with raspberries. As you can see, it arrived with a scoop of raspberry sorbet sitting atop what looks like a puff of snow moulded into a circular bed.


It wasn’t until they poured the raspberry soup did the ice melt away to unveil a bed of other raspberries that the scoop of sorbet fell perfectly into the middle of the bed.

Our final dish for the evening, and a strangely rich yet very light dessert was unripe raspberries, burnt butter foam with a buttermilk sorbet. You can’t really see the raspberries as they were nested in the foam but they did add a needed freshness to the dish.

Restaurant Paustian certainly deserves its Michelin star and I highly recommend watching their “Alchemist” video on their website to understand what some of the experience is like.


Last week, three of us took advantage of being in Copenhagen and had a dinner at Noma, recently voted as the third best restaurant in the world only after Ferran Adria’s El Bulli (Spain) and Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck (England). Unlike the other two restaurants, Noma focuses less on using strange ingredients and cooking methods, instead focusing on the fresh and seasonal foods surrounding Copenhagen.

We sat down for our booking at 8pm, when most of the other tables had already been seated. It’s a short taxi ride over from the main island, as it’s located in a converted warehouse along the river in Christianhavn. The long sunlight hours helped turn the warehouse interior into a farmhouse-like appearance, complete with a rustic and warm family feeling.

From memory, there is a good reason they seem to have a three month waiting list with something like only 12 covers. I still count myself lucky for being able to find a booking in only a three week waiting period.


Shortly after we sat down, we were asked if we would like an aperitif, my fellow diners choosing a Gin and Tonic, and myself ending up with a glass of champange before dinner. They served a series of Amuse Bouches (that’s right, a series of them), all amazingly tasty.

Our first came in a playful container, a speckled egg shape with wafts of smoke coming out. Placing the egg on the table, the waiter opened the egg in half to unveil two smaller eggs, quails eggs in fact nestled in bed of slightly smoking dry grass. Each of the eggs had been perfectly poached and, as instructed, we took one each and placed it into our mouths to find an explosion of wonderfully soft yolk, with the slightly smoked egg white. Divine!

Quails Eggs

The waiter presented our second amuse bouche on a flat plate, this time, a play on the typical Danish smorrebrod (open sandwich). Using the very same dark rye bread-like seeds to form a crispier finger-sized portion that was filled with a mixture of roe, and a cream cheese-like filling. Each bite brought with it the amazing contrast of textures, the crispiness of the cracker, the softness of the creamy filling and the popping of the roe.

Rye Bread

What arrived next looked like something straight out a garden – two small cermaic pot plants, complete with the plants they had been growing. The waiter presented this as a set of fresh radishes set into some green-coloured mousse (we never worked out what it was), and then topped a mix made with toasted hazelnuts that gave the appearance of dirt on top of the green.


Not only was this dish visually spectacular, but the crisp and fresh flavours of the radishes were a great contrast to the sweeter mousse, which naturally picked up the toasted hazelnut “dirt”. Had I had a spoon at the time, I would have been tempted to finish off what was left in each pot of mousse and hazelnuts – it was really that good!


Our final amuse bouche arrived – small wavy crisp breads this time dotted with freshly made mayonnaise and then covered in fresh herbs, as they put it, “Picked freshly by our foragers” and then dusted with a vinegar powder. Just like many of the other dishes, this was light and fresh and packed full of natural flavours. I’d never had anything with vinegar powder before, and the tart sourness it brought was the perfect complement to the sweeter mayonnaise and flowers.

Crisp Bread Vinegar Powder

Noma offers a choice of ala carte, a seven course or a twelve course tasting menu for dinner. We decided a good compromise was the seven course selection, a combination of a good variety yet not an excess of foods (all things considering). Almost all of the menu was an amazingly comprehensive wine list, almost rivalling what I remembered the tome of wines at the Fat Duck. We decided against the matching wine pairings and asked for a recommended bottle of wine. Tom described what we’d like in a bottle, as well as our budget and amazingly the sommelier immediately responded, “I think I have exactly the wine you would like.”


Bread and two butters arrived. These breads were much more memorable than the ones at the Fat Duck. Presented warmed and what seemed like freshly cooked, they had two different breads (a rye, and white bread), and two different “fats” for spreading on each of them. One of the fats had a creamier texture, apparently mixed with some light cheese, and then the other was a mix of nuts.


I can’t remember exactly what the next dish was, an appetiser I think as it wasn’t listed on the menu, and it was presented after all the amuse bouche dishes. You can see a beetroot-like sauce surrounding fresh flowers dotted with cubes of some sort of pink flavoured jelly, almost rhubarb like. I honestly can’t remember it as part of the blur of food yet I’m glad I took photos of it.

Bonus Dish

Our first official dish in the seven to follow was listed as Razor clams and parsley, dill and mussel juice. Cleverly, they had the razor clam wrapped in a jelly-like skin made with the parsley and on the side, a dusting of horseradish snow and then, poured at the table, the parsley dill and mussel juice. Just as you’d expect, the razor clam had been perfectly cooked, and soft enough to slice up. The snow had enough zing considering its cold temperature and went well complementing the rest of the dish.

Razor Clam

As you can see from the interior picture here (a small break between all the food), it really conjures up images of a farmhouse despite being located in a warehouse by the river.

Noma Inside

The next dish, Ashes and hazelnuts, caramelised chicken broth and leeks, was actually strips of slightly poaches leeks, and then covered in two different ways, one with ashes, and the other with toasted hazelnuts. The caramelised chicken broth I remember them describing as chicken skin actually reminded me of the texture you have in those melt-on-your-tounge breath mints. The ash and hazelnuts brought a different dimesion of flavour to the dish, a crispier and more subdued hazelnut with the fiery smoke from the ash.


Our next dish really amazed me, described as Asparagus and woodruff, salad root and shoots of hops and pine. They also had a perfectly cooked egg yolk, dotted with perfectly cooked egg white, and with only the skin barely holding back the tidal flow of yolk. Tom was describing how they could only do this if they were cooking it with a bain marie, a device that allows them to cook something at the perfect temperatures where egg white cook at one particular temperature, only 2 degrees Celsius away from the the cooking temperature of the white. Whatever it was, I really liked the crunchiness mixing in with two different textured liquids and flavours.


The next dish, Marrow and picked vegetables, herbs and bouillon really stood out as a great dish. Not only was it spectacular on the eyes with brightly picked flowers and herbs, but the pickled vegetables, still slightly firm in texture and circular discs of Marrow just had an amazing combination of flavours. The bouillon they poured on also added a deep flavour complemented by the other fresh flavours in the dish.

Marrow and Pickled Vegetables

Before the next dish, the waiters placed what looked like a large leather-shielded dagger at the table. This was actually intended as the knife for Pork and wild ramson leaves, grilled cucumber dish. The grilled cucumber is that blackened item at the bottom of the plate. The pork was flecked with crispy onions. With so many dishes already, the two pieces of pork was actually a very generous serve.


The first of two desserts finally arrived after the many main courses, more local ingredients in play. The title on the menu was Birch juice and birch syrup, Spanish chervil and honey, instead actually better translated as they described it, “Birch sorbet and birch meringue, made out of soaking birch bark in water, and then served with honey jelly collected from a beehive just three miles from here”. Describing birch is quite difficult, maybe closer to herbs.

Birch Tree

Finally came the last dish, on the menu described as “Beet and garden sorrel, Crème Fraiche and pickled rose hip”. Once again I defer to the way they described it in person, “Beetroot and picked rose hip granita, a tuile and a coriander ice cream). The coriander came through amazingly and although I would not order it again quickly, provided an interesting contrast to the sweeter beetroot granita.

Granita Sorbet Tuile

We took a herbal tea in the lounge room after our massive meal, served with a raspberry mousse on a homemade biscuit and then covered in chocolate. Considering that it was about quarter to midnight by the time we sat down (and with the last vestiges of the sun glimmering in the distant horizon) I didn’t want to risk having a coffee that would only serve to keep me from any sleep.


Noma was an amazing dining experience with friendly hosts and everyone, including what looked like some of the chefs, coming out to present some of the dishes. I really appreciated the focus on fresh, regional and seasonal food, giving you great reason to want to come back, if only you could get a booking in the normal three-month waiting list. Service was the impeccable kind that you want, with water constantly being topped up and timely interruptions.

Noma Inside

The insides have a wonderful warm feeling and hospitable to family and smaller groups alike. Given the strength of the Danish Kroner and the weakness of the British Pound, it’s not a meal that comes with a cheap price, but definitely worth the experience.

Coffee Never Tasted So Good

I’d heard of wine tasting, whiskey tasting and cheese tasting events but I’d never heard of a coffee tasting event so I was definitely intrigued. Can it be done? Of course, and the folks over at Taylor St Baristas did a really outstanding job at it this weekend. Organised by the folks over at Qype, a group of about ten people gathered at Taylor St Baristas’ Liverpool Street location fairly early on Saturday morning. Everyone seemed pretty upbeat considering no one had yet consumed their caffeine fix.


That was soon not going to be a problem with a selection of five roasts ready to be tasted in both their filtered and espresso forms. Before the tasting began the baristas gave us the quick low down on how to do the tasting introducing the different aspects of taste (sweet, salty, bitter, sour) combined with the aroma, flavour and mouth feel. It initially took us some time to note the different aspects that became slightly easier as we moved back and forth between the different coffees and having something to compare and contrast the different aspects.


As you can see from the picture above, we didn’t consume *all* of that coffee although maybe that explains my sleeplessness for the entire weekend. After all, they did recommend to spit, not swallow but some of them were just too good to have just a sip. Between the filtered and the espresso coffees we had a croissant to help absorb the big rush of caffeine and listened to the just-as-passionate roasters from Union Coffee talk about why they selected the coffees that they did. We heard the heart warming story about where the coffee beans came, and I certainly appreciated how the coffee industry has changed the lives for the coffee-growing communities for the better in an, everyone wins situation.


With the espressos rolling out at a ridiculously fast pace, we got plenty of opportunity to watch the skill that goes into making the perfect shot of coffee. The guys at Taylor St make it look particularly easy but I’m guessing that it’s much harder than it looks. The final coffee they introduced us to was a bit of a speciality, from what I remember, named the “Naked Espresso”. You can see it drip out into the cup below, producing an even creamier, richer brew sure to give you that satisfying hit.

I unfortunately can’t remember all the coffee blends (and my picture of the tasting board ended up too blurry) but I do remember thinking that the Rwandan Gashonga roast was definitely one of my favourites, with a rich chocolate malt base and, what I thought of, hints of cinnamon and cloves that reminded me slightly of Christmas time.

Thanks again to the people at Qype for organising such a great event, the people from Union providing such excellent quality coffee and the amazingly hospitable and down to earth guys from Taylor St Baristas (go have one of their coffees!)