Exceptional French-Japanese Cuisine at La Maison de la Nature Goh | Fukuoka, Japan

La Maison de la Nature Goh
“French food in Japan? Why?” someone asked, when I said I was going to Fukuoka to try the Michelin-star restaurant, La Maison de la Nature Goh. Well, I say, why not? Truth be told, Chef Takeshi Fukuyama’s food is visibly French, but as you taste each course, you realize that it’s all about Kyushu’s ingredients. It’s all about Japan.

As you probably know, Kyushu is a large island in Japan composed of several prefectures, including Fukuoka, Oita, Kagoshima, Nagasaki, and Miyazaki. Chef Takeshi utilizes the best of what’s in season from each prefecture in his French-style cooking. It’s very interesting how French and Japanese cuisines can be fused together in one plate, and we were wowed by the gastronomic journey that Goh took us to with their 7-course omakase (chef’s choice).

I first heard of La Maison de la Nature Goh from my friend, Cla, of The Tummy Train, and I made a mental note to try the restaurant if I go to Fukuoka. Then, last year in May, I dined at Gaggan for my birthday—after which I learned that chefs Gaggan and Takeshi are collaborating for a new concept in 2021. Thus, a flight to Fukuoka was booked instantly.

Goh is not hard to locate, even though it is quite hidden in a narrow alleyway in Nishinakasu Street. The 34-seater restaurant is small, intimate, and low-lit, perhaps more suited for romantic dinners, but the friendly staff quickly loosened up the mood and I found it to be more casual than I originally thought. We chose the 7-course set—which consists of 3 appetizers, 1 seafood course, 1 meat course, and 2 desserts—but we opted for wine pairing as well in order to have the complete experience.

PS: apologizing in advance for the crappy photos! I was so excited to eat that I didn't bother using my proper camera. 😭

The first dish was all about duck: there’s a piece of foie gras topped with pear slices, star anise, with some plum wine jam on the side; there’s also a salad made with duck shavings and beetroot. Foie gras is always a great idea—it’s even better when it’s the welcome dish! The plum wine complemented it so well (also, I love umeshu). The duck shavings salad, on the other hand, is a stunner—I’d go as far as saying that I loved it more than the foie gras! I have never tasted anything like it. This course was a perfect demonstration of creamy and sweet on a plate. Even the wine pairing, a light and sparkling Quercioli Reggiano Lambrusco from Italy, further brought out the sweetness in the dish. Amazing!

Course number two was a quadro of hors d’oeuvres. The server told us that we should start with the quiche before proceeding with any of the rest. This quiche made of bacon and mushrooms is mind-blowingly good. It’s soft, buttery, and earthy—you can really taste the mushrooms with each bite. As if to further propel us to heaven, they started serving some fresh bread with black truffle olive oil. I know I was only supposed to use that oil for the bread, but I smeared it on the quiche as well. LOL!

The scallop jelly, topped with salmon roe, apple, and rosehip flowers, was a little confusing for me—I didn’t know what dominant flavor I should get. The flounder sashimi, encased in kombu (kelp) chips and served with green tea sauce, was light and delicate—with the textures adding a new dimension to what could’ve been a simple slice of fish. For some reason, it was the wine’s flavors that was enhanced here, not the other way around; the Chateau Dereszla Furmint was a dry and acidic (and pretty strong) white wine.

Oh, but the real star of this course? The wasabi cookie. It’s very Gaggan—you pop the whole thing in your mouth and wait for the flavors to explode. In this case, it’s wasabi. Not the very strong one that assails your entire mouth and nose, but a gentle one that slowly creeps in to your taste buds—slowly and beautifully.

The third course was a perfect demonstration of how Chef Takeshi makes ingredients shine. It’s a soup appetizer—in jelly form. In this case, beef consommé. But underneath is snow crab, a dollop of uni, and the sweetest, most delicious pumpkin puree I’ve ever tasted. This dish is also confusing—but in an amazing way. I don’t know which aspect of it I loved the most: the uni, the crab, or the pumpkin. When you eat it, you have to scoop all the way through in order to get a little bit of everything.

The drink pairing was a special Pol Roger champagne—light, refreshing, fruity, a little sweet, aromatic. It was perfect with the seafood elements as it really heightened the flavors of the dish.

Course number 4 is everything anybody could dream of: lobsters and truffles. The plump pieces of fresh lobster are topped with pasta-like strips which are actually made of potato. On top: freshly shaved truffles—I love how it perfumes the dish and just enhances the lobster and the light anchovy sauce. This was such a delight to eat—and such a TREAT!

It was paired with a heated and fermented Japanese sake served in a tulip glass. Now this one is amazing. When you sniff it, all you get are strong alcohol aromas (if you were not a fan of sake, you would probably not want to drink it), but when you tip the whole glass into your mouth, the floral and fruit scents and flavors all come out. The server told us that they just opened this bottle so we felt really special. :p

At this point, the sous chef, Chef Andy, approached us and asked how everything was. He probably got curious because I think we were the only overexcited table that night (the Japanese were really behaved, prim, and proper, LOL) and I think he saw how enthusiastic we were about the dishes. Occasionally, he would step out of the open kitchen and explain the dishes to us himself. We felt incredibly special.

The fifth course was Kagoshima beef, made with 80% meat and 20% fat. I have tried Kagoshima beef before and I think the perfect way to enjoy it is with minimal seasoning. Here it was served with a crust of pepper and garlic, but you can still taste the delicious meat. On the side are some beef jus, a dollop of Japanese mustard, and a radish that was roasted for 2 hours, topped with chopped radish leaves. The natural sweetness of the beef contrasting with the slight bitterness from the radish leaves and mustard is awesome. It was paired with a rare and rather fancy red wine—an intense and full-bodied Château Lousteauneuf 2012. OMG I loved this wine!

The sixth and seventh courses were both desserts. First: a sherbet made of cassis (black currant) and a fromage blanc yogurt, with some strawberry sauce and frozen rose petals (yup). If you’ve been to Japan, you know how good their strawberries are, so anything with strawberry in it should excite you. This dish is so good I wanted to smash things. The rose petals provided additional flavor and crunch with each bite—gotta start eating random flowers from now on, LOL! The drink pairing was a kunebu liqueur that was somewhat like limoncello.

The second dessert was ice cream, and chef Andy brought us two types. The first one is called Gohdiva: a white chocolate mousse concealing red beans underneath. The second one is Miso Crème Brulee with strawberries, chocolate ice cream, and soy sauce powder. Man, these desserts are the bomb. Goh can offer a 10-course dessert-only meal and I would fall in line for it!

Surprisingly, the meal was very relaxed and fun despite the intimate ambience. I loved how genial the staff was and how even the sous chef approached us every once in a while. But the biggest surprise of all was when Chef Takeshi himself appeared after our meal (he disappeared midway through dinner service), shook our hands, and even walked us to the door and to the street. I CAN’T BELIEVE IT. A Michelin-star chef held an umbrella for us—what did I do to deserve this?!?

left: with chef Andy Hiroshi; right: with chef Takeshi Fukuyama

If you’re travelling to Fukuoka and you want to have an extraordinary dining experience, book a table at La Maison de la Nature Goh (one Michelin star, #24 in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants). Go for the 7-course meal (¥8,000) because it has two dessert courses—they make stunning desserts. Elevate the experience with a wine pairing (¥5,000) because every glass is well thought of and really enhances, complements, and heightens each dish. Thank you Goh for a fantastic meal!

La Maison de la Nature Goh
2-26 Nishinakasu, Chuo Ward, Fukuoka, Japan
Mon - Sat, 6:00PM - 12:00AM
Reservations: +81-92-724-0955/pr@gohfukuoka.com (ideally 2 months in advance)

What's your favorite city to visit in Japan? Have you been to Fukuoka? What do you think of La Maison de la Nature Goh?

If you like my posts and would love regular updates on travel photos, food finds, restaurant reviews, dance articles, and drunken tales, follow Pepe Samson on Facebook!

pepe samson

About Pepe Samson

This is a short description in the author block about the author. You edit it by entering text in the "Biographical Info" field in the user admin panel.
    Disqus Comment
    Facebook Comment


Post a Comment

Let me know what you think!