Dinner at Oryori Matsuyama (御料理 まつ山)
- Photo Views
- Meal Views
Squashed between a four lane high way and a busy rail line lies the restaurant of 松山照三 Shozo Matsuyama and his lovely wife. Trained as engineer he migrated into the hospitality industry and now runs this one star Guide Michelin Kaiseki restaurant. Having a technical background and being young certainly helps to communicate with foreign customers like myself as they provide an English menu and he operates a translating device which he uses to give you further explanations about the menu and his dishes. He also appears to be quite entrepreneurial as he has, besides his restaurant, an ice cream store and a sake brewery.
The place is tiny, maybe 8-9 seats (plus a private room) and spartanly furnished. What is striking is that Shozo-san’s wife, although dressed in a traditional kimono, not only does the service but also gets actively involved in the cooking.
The menu is composed as a traditional Kaiseki menu with an emphasis on seasonal products from the region. The quality of the ingredients are superb, as I can attest after tasting the matsutake, and the cooking precise. There are some very thoughtful touches like when he gives you a plate of root vegetables after a perfectly, spongy eel to “clean your breath”. His chawanmushi with blue crab and Ikura was one of the best I had this season. However, the outstanding dish of this meal was the Shaba-shabu of matsutake and nodoguro. Cooked in individual pots under the close supervision of the chef himself the fish, boiled for a few seconds in the matsutake broth, tasted exquisite. Accompanying the rice he has a variety for condiments but also one paste which he produced in baking and crushing tuna without using any gelatine. This paste mixed into the rice creates a beautiful combination which is very tasty.
A wonderful experience with a couple who live the Japanese hospitality, the Omotenashi. It is well worth to take the short train ride from either Kokura or Fukuoka.