Budo Sansho

The appeal of budo sansho
as told by professionals

Noriyuki Matsuda

The refreshing aroma of budo sansho
brings a ‘little surprise’ to French cuisine

Noriyuki Matsuda
Midoriyama Matsudake

Interview date:2019.6.19

Noriyuki Matsuda

For Chef Matsuda, what is French cuisine?

“I became a French chef because I wanted to work in Europe,” begins Chef Matsuda with a smile. This yearning for Europe came from his love of soccer. He had played seriously as a student, with the intention of becoming professional. “When I was a high school student, I saved up my allowance and took part in a soccer camp in Italy. I understood none of the language, but I was still able to make lots of friends. I went to their houses and had the opportunity to spend time around the kitchen table with their families. It was so much fun.”

This experience lives on at Midoriyama Matsudake, a reservation-only restaurant in a house located in a residential area with lots of greenery. This hidden gem of a restaurant serves prix fixe courses, with two service intakes at lunchtime and one at dinner. Customers can enjoy their courses at a relaxed pace in a private setting, much like being invited to a close friend’s house for a meal. The setting is home-style, but the food is authentic orthodox French”, says Chef Matsuda, who believes that French cuisine is “food which emphasizes sauces.”

Chef Matsuda’s feelings about budo sansho

“French cuisine is essentially about addition,” says Chef Matsuda, explaining the differences between French and Japanese cuisines. The point of Japanese cuisine is to bring out the flavors of the raw ingredients, and for chefs to show their skills through simple ways of cooking and eating. “In this way, Japanese cuisine can be said to be about subtraction.” On the other hand, French cuisine seeks out flavors which add to that of the raw ingredients. Originally, fish and vegetables from each province were of varying taste and freshness, so a history of ‘eating food with sauce’ developed in order to provide truly delicious food. During his training throughout the various provinces of France, Chef Matsuda accumulated much experience in finishing dishes with the ‘magic’ of sauce. “My cooking style is classical,” he says. While there are many modern French restaurants which offer subtraction-style dishes based on competing raw ingredients, Chef Matsuda wants to treasure the art of adding sauces to food.

Chef Matsuda only recently came across budo sansho. “My first impression was intense. The inside of my mouth turned numb as I bit through each grain,” he laughs. “How do I bring out this spiciness and make the most of this aroma?” A number of such recollections flashed through Chef Matsuda’s mind.

“Soshu-kohaku dori chicken and pâté wrapped in filo pastry with a sansho white wine sauce”

Using budo sansho sauces to garnish main dishes

Currently at Midoriyama Matsudake, sauces which incorporate budo sansho are used to garnish a number of dishes. Exceptional at complementing both meat and fish, dishes such as the bamboo shoot flan with firefly squid and the Soshu-kohaku dori chicken and pâté filo wrap incorporate budo sansho. Regular patrons rate the restaurant highly. A little sugar is used to further bring out the refreshing budo sansho aroma, and the acidity of white wine vinegar is used to temper the sharpness of the numb sensation that budo sansho produces. Adding fresh cream balances out the entire flavor, completing the sansho white wine sauce. “This is a universal sauce which complements both meat- and fish-based dishes.”

In addition, Chef Matsuda is also planning to use the sweetness of dried fruit with budo sansho in venison and duck dishes during the winter wild game season. The process of discovering how to bring about synergy between the assertive budo sansho spice and the strongly idiosyncratic wild game is one which Chef Matsuda finds very interesting.

“French cuisine and budo sansho
Possibilities going forward

“Authentic French chefs have always been interested in new ingredients and spices, and in recent years have been particularly interested in Japanese food.” Even during Chef Matsuda’s training over 10 years ago, seaweeds like nori and wakame were coming into France from Japan, leading to the development of many new ways of eating. “You would be justified in saying that budo sansho is popular in France right now.” Although it is too strong to use as is, the fact that skilled use of budo sansho can create unprecedented new flavors stimulates the soul of the chef. Furthermore, the ‘little surprise’ that customers experience when eating sansho sauce brings depth to the enjoyment of a multi-course meal.

Chef Matsuda has recently created a dessert using budo sansho. “Sansho crème brûlée with vanilla ice cream” is a dish that lets you fully experience the flavor of vanilla and burnt sugar with the excellent compatibility of sansho. Midoriyama Matsudake orders seasonal ingredients from the various regions of France and Japan. “We will continue to serve finely-crafted and delicious classical French cuisine.”

“Seafood potato mousse with clam jelly and a sansho mayonnaise sauce”

“Roast lamb with budo sansho, dried fruits, and nuts”
The lamb can be replaced with meats such as venison or duck, as the flavors also complement wild game

The chef's skills extend to dessert⋯
Budo Sansho crème brûlée with vanilla ice cream”

Please note:
If you wish to order the pictured dishes, please enquire when making reservations.

Midoriyama Matsudake

3-18-20 Miwa-midoriyama, Machida city, Tokyo 195-0055
Phone: 044-572-4820

Opening hours: Lunch 11:30~15:00(last orders at 13:00)
Dinner 18:00~22:00(last orders at 21:00)
Closed: Monday (or Tuesday if the preceding monday is a public holiday)

Customers must make reservations in advance

Lunch prix fixe menu
6,500 yen (appetizer, vegetable medley, fish course, meat course, dessert)

Dinner prix fixe menu
12,000 yen (appetizer, vegetable medley, main course [fish or meat], dessert)
14,000 yen (appetizer, vegetable medley, fish course, meat course, dessert)


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