Episode 18: Maiko Kyogoku + Japanese Comfort Food

First photo by Rachel Vanni. Other photos by Paul Quitoriano.

There’s more to Japanese cuisine than sushi, sashimi, onigiri, and miso soup! In this episode, Maiko Kyogoku of Bessou talks to us about Japanese comfort food, as well as her influences for the seasonal, home-style food served at her downtown restaurant.

We start the episode with our new segment: what's the best thing we ate this week. Lynda gives a birthday shout-out to Iris! We then talk about Japanese comfort food and introduce our guest, Maiko. Maiko starts by telling us what "bessou" means, and how her experience coming from a restaurant family and working in the industry, as well as her cultural upbringing, led to the concept for her restaurant.

Lynda and Maiko then discuss Bessou's very creative menu that features Japanese-inspired comfort food. They deconstruct two specific dishes: Grilled Romaine and Umeboshi Fritters. Maiko then talks about the challenges of trying to label the food at Bessou because of her own mixed food background, but also because the menu has so many other influences besides Japanese comfort fare. 

Maiko talks about how she tries to push the bar when showcasing what Japanese food can be, and at the same time, accommodating the expectations from diners who still associate Japanese cuisine with sushi and sashimi.

18:35 "I think it's important to create and innovate, and keep pushing people's comfort zones. Because at the end of the day, there's really no boundaries to what food is. It's hard to categorize Japanese food, or Korean food, or American food, because its ever-changing." - Maiko on trying to label or define a cuisine.

Lynda then asks Maiko about her experience working with Takashi Murakami and how the world of art influences her work as a restauranteur. Maiko also tells us about Bessou's brunch menu that ranges from more traditional Japanese elements to more Western brunch items to other cultural influences like dan dan udon noodles. Finally, Maiko tells us what's next for Bessou and how she's been working with former Feast Meets West guests, Boba Guys.

Iris has a birthday request for our listeners! If you have can spare 2-3 minutes today, it would be much appreciated if you could login to the iTunes store, search Feast Meets West by Heritage Radio Network, and leave us a rating and short review. We are still a relatively new show and the more reviews we have, the more visibility we’ll have on iTunes so more folks can find the show. Thanks!