February 11, 2012

2940 S Lyndale Avenue Minneapolis, MN |

Since leaving my island home for Minnesota I have found myself thinking about ramen from time to time. More specifically thinking about my favorite bowl of paitan ramen from the Yotteko-ya ramen shop in Honolulu. So when my wife mentioned Moto-i, a place in Uptown that featured ramen on their menu, we had to check it out!

Moto-i’s menu reads more like an izakaya than your typical Japanese restaurant. There are numerous categories of appetizers and small plates to share. Since we had a few diners we decided to order a bunch of appetizers to share and some ramen. Here’s the visual tour of the evening’s eats:

Sweet Potato Fries – Katsu dipping sauce

It might just be personal taste but I haven’t run into a sweet potato fry that I’ve loved. I think it’s the non-crispy texture of the fries that throws me. That being said, Moto-i’s version was fine in flavor and the katsu dipping sauce was a different twist.

Panko Shrimp – Malt vinegar dipping sauce

Crispy, sweet, and well salted the panko shrimp were quite good. I enjoyed the tang of the malt vinegar dipping sauce along with the crispy oiliness of the shrimp.

Bulgogi Sliders – Shiitake, cucumbers, hoison lettuce

I had expected these sliders to come with buns or some sort of bread, but they were served as lettuce cups instead. While the lack of bread was surprising, the flavors of the bulgogi and accompanying kim chee were decent.

Okonomiyaki – “Savory cabbage pancake”

We weren’t quite convinced of the authenticity of this okonomiyaki. I think it is perhaps prepared too thin so the bottom of the pancake got a little too burnt. Overall the ingredients within it were what we had expected, but the flavors weren’t quite there.

Maitake Ramen – Maitake, egg, corn, zucchini, ponzu, chili oil, maitake oil, scallions

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the night was the lack of broth in this bowl of ramen. Most ramen fans will agree that the success of a bowl of ramen is based heavily on the broth, so to serve a dish called “ramen” without broth (and without otherwise noting that it did not come with any) was a bit confusing to me. Lack of broth aside, the dish was a bit awkward in that it tasted as if the noodles had been tossed in butter. While the flavor of the ingredients atop the ramen were fine, once everything was combined you pretty much just tasted butter and oil.

Pear Salad – Candied walnuts, orange vinaigrette

I had just a small bite of this but from what I had tasted it seemed like a fine execution of a refreshing pear salad.

Braised Pork Ramen Soup – Pork broth, pork belly, smoked pork shoulder, egg, chili oil, scallions

This bowl of ramen was much more successful than the other in that it came in a broth. The soup base had decent flavors although perhaps not as complex as I’m used to. All the accompanying ingredients were decently incorporated into the overall flavor profile of the dish. I must give credit to whoever prepared the eggs on both ramen, as they were perfectly cooked.

Sata Andagi – Okinawan doughnuts with five spice sugar

To close out our meal we decided to try some andagi, since we haven’t had the chance to eat any since moving to Minnesota. I was very pleased with how these turned out. Crispy on the outside, soft and slightly chewy on the inside, I thought that these andagi were quite good. The spicing on the outside was spot on and the ice cream along with it gave the dish an enjoyable hot/cold combination.


My experience at Moto-i was very similar to the other Japanese restaurants I’ve visited so far in the Twin Cities. While overall the experience was decent, there were misses with flavor and authenticity.

2940 Lyndale Ave South
Minneapolis, MN 55408

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  • Judy

    We must now start our mission to find some “authentic” (I don’t know how authentic it can get in Minnesota…) Japanese ramen! 

  • Keane

    If you haven’t yet, try Masu Sushi & Robata over in NE Minneapolis. In my opinion it’s much better. And if you’re looking to have your mind changed about sweet potato fries, Hell’s Kitchen is the place to go.

    • TheNomNomFoodie

      Thanks for the tip on Hell’s Kitchen. I’ve been there a couple of times for brunch but haven’t checked out their fries yet. Masu has been on our bucket list for the Twin Cities for a while now. Just need to find time to go :)