Saturday, July 23, 2022

Food Pairing Sake Dinner

"Don't worry about the wines - I will take care of it." we realized what our friend C meant when I managed to take a peek at the bottles he brought to the restaurant before our dinner began. Let's just say having any one of them on any given occasion would have been the highlight, but going through all of them in one go was simply beyond remarkable. Better yet, he also went through the menu with chef at his go-to restaurant to make sure the dishes did justice to the outstanding bottles. 

We enjoyed our dinner at Ryota Kappou Modern a few months ago and had no doubt that our dinner this time around will not disappoint, especially when the menu was customized by Chef Ryota Kanesawa himself and our meal done over inside the private room at the back of the restaurant. 

To start, we went with an unusual pairing of the seasonal white asparagus and ankimo (monkfish liver) finished with egg yolk sauce. Love that nice contrast in textures and tastes combined in a single bite. Uni and Fava Bean were another interesting match, with both served in a bowl as tempura with a light and crispy batter. Both were delicious.

The ainame (Greening) fish was the seasonal catch in early summer, and it's served as the soup course in a lacquer bowl with the soup base deceivingly complex despite the clear color. The sashimi course was separated into two different parts - first a platter of hirame (flounder), akame-zuke (marinated tuna), toro (fatty tuna) and ika (cuttlefish) , then a small bowl of beef tartare, uni (sea urchins) and ikura (salmon roes) that were to be mixed together. Chef called this "bowl of wonder" on the menu and appropriately so.

We caught the end of hotaru-ika (firefly squid) season with another dish prepared by this seasonal delicacy, in the form of a cold soba dish topped with grated kurasumi (bottarga roes) I love the subtle umami flavor combined with the bouncy thin noodles tossed with wasabi oil. 

At first glance at the menu upon seated down, Suppon was the dish I most look forward to. I always relate Suppon, or freshwater softshell turtle, as a cold weather dish so I was surprised to see that on the menu. Plus it's my first time trying it in a Japanese restaurant outside of Japan. The piece of softshell turtle was done two ways - with the chunk grilled on charcoal fire and the sauteed meat served as filling for spring roll on the side. The distinct smoky aroma from the charcoal cooking worked perfectly well with the rustic taste of the suppon with a nice bouncy texture, accented by the tingling taste of the hanasansho garnish on the side. That's one dish we had dissenting opinions as our dining companions - we love it, but the rest felt kinda meh thinking the piece was too tough to eat. 

Our second main was pork, with the Iberico pork loin slow grilled, basted with miso sauce and served with a piece of baby corn. The meat was done medium-rare to the pinkish color and was very tender. After a bowl of tomato jelly and passionfruit sorbet as palate cleanser, we finished with our last savory course of scallop and sakura ebi kamameshi. And lastly, a pair of desserts - first the traditional sakura mochi (cherry blossom dumpling) wrapped in pickled sakura leaf (and served with strawberry icecream) followed by a Hojicha creme brulee.

Of course, sake and wine were as big a part of the meal than the food this time. The rare bottle of junmai daiginjo from Nara Prefecture was a nice lead-in with nice refreshing aroma and well balanced palate. The Juyondai bottle featured the typical banana aroma, mildly sweet, rounded texture with a long after-taste. Our host requested the Daishichi be opened and decanted for a good two hours before we had a first sip, and the expressive aroma with the strong umami flavor on the palate was impressive. We finished with a super-tuscan red, which I thought was great with the pork main course. Nice complex dark fruits on the palate with smooth tannins. All four bottles represented some of the most memorable ones I have tasted this year, and all wonderful in their own rights.

More photos here:

When? May 7 2022
Where? Ryota Kappou Modern, Level 21, 18 On Lan Street, Central
Menu Highlights?
Mimurosugi Fukuro Shibori Junmai Daiginjo - Imanishi Shuzo, Nara Prefecture
三輪山 みむろ杉 袋しぼり 純米大吟醸 - 奈良県 今西酒造
Juyondai Dyu no Otoshiko Junmai Daiginjo - Takagi Shuzo, Yamagata Prefecture
十四代 龍の落とし子 純米大吟醸 - 山形県 高木酒造
Daishichi Myoka Rangyoku Grande Cuvee - Daishichi Sake Brewery, Fukoshima Prefecture
大七妙花闌曲グランド・キュヴェ生酛純米大吟釀雫原酒 - 福島県大七酒造
2013 Le Macchiole "Messorio" Toscana IGT


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