Round two with Shaun Motoda, chef de cuisine at TAG|RAW BAR
This is part two of my interview with Shaun Motoda, chef de cuisine of TAG|RAW BAR; part one of our conversation ran yesterday.
Favorite Denver/Boulder restaurant(s) other than your own: I love the Cherry Cricket because their burgers are so consistent -- you always know it's gonna be a great burger. I also love Frasca; the food is inspiring, and they have excellent service.
- Shaun Motoda, chef of TAG|RAW BAR, on the perfect bite and his obsession with Taco Bell
- Jeremy Thomas, chef of Le Grand Bistro & Oyster Bar, on simplicity, spoons and Sheehan
- Round two with Jeremy Thomas, exec chef of Le Grand Bistro & Oyster Bar
Favorite cheap eat in Denver: Griff's Hamburgers has been serving traditional hamburgers for more than fifty years, and I absolutely crave them. I also love the late-night eats at the Denver Diner. I order the country-fried steak and the patty melt, and, yes, I said and -- not or. I'm a sucker for big meals -- I can totally put it away.
If you could change one thing about the Denver dining scene, what would it be? I wish the scene would be more supportive and less judgmental. Denver continues to build itself up as a major culinary destination, and there's so much more room for great chefs, concepts and craft. Every time I eat out, I'm amazed at the talent we're cultivating in this town. Unfortunately, it seems like instead of being supportive and encouraging, there's more criticizing and insulting going around. I just wish everyone could realize that the rising tide floats all boats -- having more restaurants, chefs and dishes in Denver is good for everyone.
Most memorable meal you've ever had: When I was about eight, my mom took a whole mullet and stuffed it with onions, lup cheong (Chinese sweet sausage), mayonnaise and ginger, topped it with cilantro and scallions, then roasted it in the oven. Eating a whole fish back then was pretty unusual -- we'd always eaten filets or steaks before then -- and the mullet was served family style in the middle of the table. It was really cool to have everyone around the table sharing and eating from one huge fish. Whenever we do the Chinese-style fish at TAG, the smell reminds me of my mom.
One food you detest: There's really nothing I won't eat, but I have to say that I'm not a huge fan of overcooked proteins, especially fish. It's not only disrespectful to the animal, but it results in an awful taste and has a tough, rubbery texture.
One food you can't live without: I eat eggs all the time, in any way, shape or form. They're perfect any time of day, and they're easy and cheap to prepare. I'm interested in working with a wider variety of different eggs and am thinking about incorporating duck and goose eggs into the menu at TAG|RAW. I'd love to get my hands on an ostrich egg -- but I probably should taste one first.
What's always lurking in your refrigerator? Eggs and ketchup.
Weirdest customer request: A guest came into TAG|RAW BAR and asked me to cook the ahi all the way through -- yep, true story.
Weirdest thing you've ever put in your mouth: Growing up in Hawaii, I've eaten just about everything you can pull from the ocean -- abalone, jellyfish and fugu -- but to me, those things aren't that weird. I once ate beef heart, and that seemed weird to me.