Chef Series with Marcus: Black Cod in Saikyo Miso
Marcus Davies is the head chef at Yamamori North, our location on the northside Quays beside the Ha’Penny Bridge. In addition to the main restaurant, the kitchen also serves the specialty Whisky Bar at the front of the building and Yamamori’s established nightclubs Tengu and Kaizen Bar at the back. Follow Marcus on Instagram @marcus_chef1
With the May 2019 debut of the new menu at Yamamori North, we discussed one of Marcus’ favorite dishes, the Black Cod with Saikyo Miso; his origins and inspirations as a chef; and the unique direction of Yamamori cuisine.
Marcus’ path to Yamamori wound from the UK to mainland Europe and eventually back west to Ireland. He is originally from a small town in south Wales, and he left home at 16 for Amsterdam with “150 quid in his pocket.” He met his Irish wife while working in a pub, and as a chef herself, she introduced him to the world of cooking. Marcus started then as a kitchen porter (KP) - but in those early days, he never really had an interest in making food - but he was looking for better opportunities and more fulfilling work.
“Between pulling pints and being a KP, I saw an opportunity got into cooking,” he says. He eventually worked up to commis chef at a sushi restaurant doing prep work and basic cooking tasks. And he worked at a conveyor belt sushi restaurant - or ‘Kaiten-zushi,’ literally “rotation sushi” - the quirky Japanese-originated set up where individual plates are sent around a motor chain or water moat to be picked by diners as they wish.
After settling in Ireland to be close to his wife’s family in 2006, Marcus worked for a year at Yamamori Noodles (now known as Yamamori South City), and in 2008 was offered the head chef position. He has now had a central hand in the establishment for 11 years and counting.
The freshest ingredients: top-quality Irish black cod and house-made sweet saikyo miso
This past spring, Marcus worked closely with staff and management to develop Yamamori North’s new menu, a unique selection of technique-driven dishes emphasizing top-quality seafood, fusion elements, and a good dose of open flame. Of the many new dishes, Marcus is particularly excited about the Black Cod with Saikyo Miso. The fresh Black Cod is prepared with house-made saikyo miso - a light and sweet miso that originates from the Kyoto region of Japan. The cod is then grilled with an open torch atop a banana leaf, and served a la carte. “There has rarely been a time with a better selection of top-quality fish,” says Marcus, and he notes there is a lobster dish on the menu for the first time in a decade as well. Check out more of the new dishes here.
Similar to Izakaya head chef Thiago Guerra, a major source of Marcus’ food inspiration will always be Japanese traditional cuisine. A few years back, Marcus spent two weeks in Japan and brought back a lifetime of insight. “Major impressions,” he says. “It’s fun. they like to eat, drink, talk to foreigners, it’s very hospitable - but it’s like landing on a different planet, I couldn’t understand the symbols or shopfronts. The aesthetics are very different [than here].” He visited a noodle factory, a miso factory, the Hitachino beer brewery, and a noodle restaurant where buckwheat noodles were produced on site. He had air-dried pickles only made in Japan, and tried deserts made from miso.
The stunning presentation for some of the new menu items in particular is notable; Marcus made some of these decisions later on in the process, reflecting a strong embrace of the beauty of Japanese cuisine: scallop sushi with caviar on a pink seashell over seaweed; Irish oyster with kimchee and ponzu sauce over a bed of crushed ice; grilled Oysters with masago over seaweed and banana leaf. The four new “aburi-style” sushi dishes feature nigiri that is torch-grilled on top and raw beneath for a dynamic texture.