The neighbourhood of historic Covent Garden isn’t short of restaurants and bars. There are iconic eateries, busy cafés and swanky watering holes to suit every mood. But it’s hard to find that perfect little spot where one will want to be recognised as a regular, a spot for a glass of something special and a well-paired snack. Moto ticks so many boxes.
The word ‘Moto’ is Japanese and that isn’t surprising as this is a cosy sake bar. It is the name given to the fermentation starter for the sake brewing process. Without the crucial moto yeast there would be no sake, Japan’s traditional alcoholic drink that is now becoming popular worldwide.
The aim is to educate
This is the UK’s first independent bar and shop specialising in craft sake. Moto showcases sakes that are not otherwise available in the UK. The delicious aim is to educate and introduce Londoners to sake. It has till now been a beverage that many in the UK sake world have wanted to remain exclusive and somewhat limited to Japanese fine-dining restaurants, etc. But why can it not be consumed with relish and excitement by us ordinary folk? There are a lot of us, and we have been waiting for Moto.
Moto has seating for 25 at small tables, with a few more stools at the bar. A striking wall of minimalistic shelving showcases the bottles of sake – you will be able to buy sake to take home, too, and that is a real bonus. The order of the bottles on the display matches their position on the sake menus so it’s easy to discover favourites.
An Unintimidating haven for the sake lover
Tasting notes are devoid of technical sake terms beloved by so many London sake ‘experts’ and ‘promoters’. We want to enjoy sake and I am sure many of us will be inspired to learn more. Moto provides a safe and unintimidating haven for the sake lover and the curious, and it’s long overdue.
A fun learning experience can be had at Moto. They offer sake flights with those unambiguous tasting notes. Try a few styles and discover which works best for you. We all have different tastes, but a little food will help the sipper to discover pairings in a casual setting.
Here are a few suggestions with which to start:
DAN Yamahai Junmai Ginjo Muroka Nama Genshu – Sasaichi Brewery, Yamanashi, Japan
Yuho Yamaoroshi Junmai – Mioya Brewery, Ishikawa, Japan
Shinomine Extra Dry Yamadanishiki Junmai Nama Sake, Japan
One can enjoy a platter of one’s usual bar nibbles but it would be a shame to miss out on some real Japanese small plates:
Nasu No Nibitashi – Simmered aubergine in an umami-rich broth is a Japanese classic and perfect with a bowl of plain rice. A simple dish but very good.
Chicken Fry – Moto’s version of the popular chicken karaage dish of chicken breaded with crunchy crumbs. This is perfect with sake.
Nekomanma – A warm bed of rice topped with soy-cured egg yolk and bonito flakes. Have this with the Chicken Fry.
I am a supporter of Moto, their sake, their food, the ambiance and their inclusive philosophy. I will come often and stay long, and hope in future to become such a regular that they will phone me at home if I should miss an evening!
7 Maiden Lane
Hours – walk-In only: