Alex Chase, executive chef at Masu Sushi and Robata in Northeast, may prefer the chaos of a kitchen to the babble of a Twitter feed, but we were able to coax a few more insights out of the self-described shy guy.
Yesterday we discussed the depths of ramen broth and the importance of a great kitchen staff, while today we grill him on his thoughts about a certain noodle's sudden celebrity and what he sees on the horizon. First catch up on yesterday's chat here.
How do you feel about the way that social media, like Facebook and Twitter, have changed the chef-diner relationship?
I don't know. I'm not the one doing it. I'm not a big lime-lighter. I'm a pretty shy guy. I'm much more comfortable back there with all the knives and fire and chaos.
What do you think about the moment that ramen noodles seems to be having right now?
It's a long time coming. It's everywhere in Japan. Every region has it's own ramen. It's street food--like the taco joints on Lake Street.
People are finding out about new cultures and places. It just takes the right thing. There are a few noodle places on University.
What's your favorite?
I go to Saigon, but that's because I live in St. Paul. There are a bunch of great places on Nicollet in Minneapolis, too.
Speaking of taco joints, where do you like to go for a taco on East Lake Street?
I'm torn between Taqueria de Hacienda and Los Ocampo. I had experience with tacos at Barrio, and I took pride in our tacos. There's that new place in St. Paul, Rusty Taco. That's closer to me, but I haven't been there yet.
What's in your fridge at home right now?
Feta cheese, olives, some brie. A lot of weird things--100 percent real maple syrup, because it is delicious, four different kinds of mustards, capers, lettuce, and a cucumber. And
bratwurst. No bread. A lot of green things. I'll go home and throw together a raw salad. Maybe, if it's been a late night, I'll just eat a brat.
Japanese food isn't particularly prevalent in Minnesota. If people were interested in exploring the cuisine at home, where would you suggest they start?
United Noodles in Minneapolis has a wide range of Asian products. Shueng Hur in St. Paul has not as much Japanese, but a lot of Asian foods. And there's Kim's in St. Paul. It's a Japanese and Korean market. It's small, but that was the first Asian market I ever went to.
What food makes you think of home?
Anything Puerto Rican, whole roast pig, tostones Food is so personal, so versatile. Each experience, food is a reminder. All the senses are involved.
In all of your travels, is there anywhere that you haven't been yet that you'd like to see?
Central Africa, a lot of Latin America--there are a bunch of places. I have to go back to India.
Part 3 of our talk with Alex Chase continues tomorrow.