Erik Matti lauds Japanese restaurant for valuing food quality above all else

February 15, 2024 - 12:37 PM
A menu item of Modan in this photo taken by Pol Divina and posted on the restaurant's Instagram on July 10, 2023 (modan.mnl/Instagram)

Filmmaker Erik Matti stressed the importance of food quality in restaurants after his “great” experience at a Japanese private dining restaurant for a pre-Valentine’s date.

The acclaimed director on Tuesday shared his thoughts after dining at the Mōdan, a private dining concept of chef Jorge Mendez in Cubao, Quezon City.

Matti said that he and his wife, screenwriter Micihiko Yamamoto, had a pre-Valentine’s dinner date at the establishment “to avoid the rush.”

He lauded the restaurant for focusing on the food and “what’s on the plate,” particularly “the experience one gets out of the plate.”

“A restaurant is entirely only as good as the taste of its food. Yes, there can be theatrics. There can be some fancy showmanship,” Matti said.

“Some focus on foraging or seasonality as some sort of genre of choice that may be an advocacy or a marketing slant.
But in the end, the restaurant, its name and its reputation [are] mostly or only about what’s on the plate,” he added.

“Not how fast they refill your half-empty glass or how quick they pull the chair behind you when you stand up. It’s what’s on the plate. What ends up on the plate,” the director continued.

Matti also lauded the restaurant for how its “theatrics” were also “directed towards how to experience the dishes better.”

“Like, for example, their signature tsukune stuffed chicken wings that come with an umami-filled sauce turn into another dish when the leftover sauce becomes a scarpetta where the bread course is brought in to scrape what’s left of it. Or the remainder sauce of a snow crab claw dish suddenly becomes a soup a la sobayu style,” he said.

“Everything about the dining experience is so thoughtful. Like they’ve figured it out, the progression and all. But with such specificity and direct precision, it never made the dining experience feel stiff,” the director added.

He also took note of the restaurant’s layout, saying it is reminiscent of Brooklyn Fare’s Chef’s Table, Frevo NYC or Atera.

Matti likewise praised Modan’s cocktail offerings for having “a lot” of alcohol and for “great” desserts, particularly mentioning the pandan bomb and the Hokkaido milk ice cream.

Moreover, the chef’s preamble to the “complex dishes” was “short and sweet, almost scripted.”

“When you guys dine at this restaurant in their current menu, check out how clever their menu on paper is. That’s the kind of resto they are,” the director said.

However, he felt that its “atmosphere and vibe” could be improved to “elevate the dining experience in a more fun, laidback manner.”

“Right now, the music sounds too ‘on the nose.’ They could just go with what’s personal to them, even with the music,” Matti said.

The director also shared a picture of the restaurant’s signage with the caption: “A satisfying, well-paced, thoughtful and straightforward great meal all around, beginning to end.”

Last month, Matti also earned buzz after taking part in a tasting menu of an award-winning Filipino restaurant that failed to meet his expectations.

READ: ‘Less is more’: Erik Matti offers suggestions for award-winning Toyo Eatery

Meanwhile, Mendez previously described Mōdan as somewhere he can be “truly creative” with his food. The restaurant’s name is Japanese for “modern,” which gives a glimpse of its offerings and overall cuisine.

A feature about Mōdan notes that the chef hosts up to 12 guests per night in his private dining concept.

The restaurant offers a progressive Japanese degustation menu that draws inspiration from the chef’s personal journey and pays tribute to his loved ones.