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Spring Paris' Daniel Rose Heads to Momoka for Japanese

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Spring restaurant_daniel_rose_1.jpgEach week in our new Off Duty series, we'll talk to some of our favorite chefs and industry folk around the country to find out their secret late-night spots where they like to grab a bite and a pint when their kitchens are finally closed. Next up: Daniel Rose, the American-born, France-based chef/owner behind Paris' celebrated innovative, seasonally-focused restaurant  Spring.

Where do you like to go eat when you're leaving Spring?

I go to this place called Momoka on Rue Jean-Baptiste Pigalle. It's Japanese home cooking by this woman named Masayo. It's really teeny tiny -- only 14-16 feet. You feel like you're in Tokyo suddenly [when you're in there ] but there's still something Parisian about it. It's not far from Pigalle and all that -- it's just down the road. It's off beat. [The owner Masayo] is just in there with a girlfriend cooking.

How long have you been going there?

I've been going there for 5-6 years. It wasn't far from the first restaurant -- Spring was in the next neighborhood over. I think [Masayo] came to the restaurant one day and then I went to hers. I also went there with my dad once.

momoka_chefsoffduty.jpgWhat are their specialties?

Masayo does a tasting menu -- we let her make whatever she wants. There's lots of raw fish and all sorts of neat little sauces that are not super traditional. The coolest stuff are these fun green tea cakes she makes. They're really sweet. But mostly it's about the home cooking aspect. There's something very sweet and endearing about it. As important as the food you eat is the vibe you gt when you go to the place. A lot of restaurants make good food and I'm spoiled to death because I have six guys and girls cooking all day and my wife is a chef so I eat yummy food all day but it's fun to go somewhere [like Momoka] off the radar.

What's your favorite thing to eat there?

I love anything that she deep fries -- since the place is teeny, you end up smelling like deep fried [stuff] inside. I remember once she served these pieces of baked fish I'd never heard of. In Paris, you feel like you eat a lot of the same stuff and suddenly at [Momoka] you're on another planet.

Any fun memories of meals there?

I think the first time I went there was with my dad for lunch and we ended up sitting there for five hours! Masayo kept bringing more and more food -- she's this tiny woman and kept bringing these platters of food for us. She was worried that I was still hungry or something. It was about as close as you can get to having someone like your mom cooking for you. Now I'm hungry!

Momoka, 5 Rue Jean-Baptiste Pigalle, 75009 Paris, France; Tues-Friday, noon-2:15pm, 7:30pm-10:15pm; Sun, 7:30pm-10:15pm

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