Yah for the Dinner Only thing I had a note in the original post above. I wonder if it’s because not enough business during lunchtime?
I recollect reading somewhere on sushi and liquor pairings… And as a general rule sake does not pair well with sushi…
I’m sure that’s the reason, the few times I’ve had lunch, it’s was myself and occasionally 1-2 other people showed up at he bar.
Interesting. I’ve always enjoyed the sakes I’ve ordered with sushi in the past. There were some bottles that I did feel clashed, but I’ve found some successful pairings before with no issues (e.g., this Koshi no Kanbai that Maru-san recommended (as his favorite sake out there), was fantastic. But to be clear, I don’t take a sip of the sake inbetween chews with a mouthful of sushi (always after I finish and savor a piece).
Just a clarification the “sake does not pair with sushi” comment was from the article I read. Was curious if others agreed with this proclamation?
I personally find lighter sakes seem to pair well… And agree definitely not between chews
I would tend to agree although I am sure there are exceptions.
A nice light Japanese beer seems to do the trick for me.
Same here. I like the alternating rice/hops/rice/hops/rice combo, as opposed to rice/rice/ricer/rice/rice (baby)…
i seem to recall reading back in the day some experts
felt drinking sake with sushi was “redundant,” because
the sake is made from rice.
me, i go with beer, though shibucho
taught me red wine can work pretty darn well.
i wonder if champagne would work; i’ve always thought it was
a vastly underrated wine to go with all types of foods.
edit…i just read j.l’s post and now i’m redundant.
“please don’t make me redundant.” – david brent
Champagne works for almost anything!
White burgundy works. In fact Mori has some wines from Kenzo estate in Napa. Red burgundy works with tuna (for me).
except, i think, caviar, oddly.
Call me a heathen but I like champagne with caviar.
Plus, it’s hard to do vodka caviar brunch.
Sincerely, fellow heathen.
to each their own. the combo doesn’t work for me; kinda
messes with the flavour and texture of both.
then again, call me wacky, call me irresponsible, i don’t
"get" brunch, either.
[quote=“Porthos, post:48, topic:3358”]
A nice light Japanese beer seems to do the trick for me.
[/quote] I was going to ask, what about beer? See? I’m learning. Most of the lingo is confusing me. But it’s interesting. You guys are definitely “Masters”.
Gluttons is more like it.
I think the so called rule that sake does not pair with sushi (even in general) is very misguided. A lot of this (mis)information seems to come from some of the American food media, or from those who write books about sushi in English. Again, at the end of the day, it is a matter of personal taste.
As far as the Daishichi Houreki Junmai Daiginjo Kimoto Shizuku Genshu sake I had, even if you go to the brewer’s English portion of the website, they don’t say it pairs with sushi, but you could find other western foods or what not that will work. I believe there was a mention that it is delicate enough to sip or even enjoy as an apertif or after dinner drink. Really there is nothing wrong with that. Though if there is a sake out there (quality high end one) that doesn’t go well with uni, white fish sashimi, or pristine oysters and shellfish, then it’s probably not a good one for me.
Also if you look at tabelog (Japanese restaurant review site) you look at high end (even non Michelin) sushi restaurants, even though white burgundies and champagne are the rage and take up most of the pictures of the beverage upload, people still drink sake (though many lend more towards Junmai or Junmai Ginjo).
Now, sake with sushi, there are a number of varying factors at play that affect the experience and whether it enhances, adds nothing, or somewhat clashes. First, what is the particular style of nigiri and its flavor profile? Mori Sushi’s nigiri, at least Maru-san’s craft, results in a very ultra refined and pristine, clean, and shall we say simple elegant product. Even the nikiri (brushed sauce) is very light in flavor. The shari (rice pad) is also delicate in that regard, and with the skill put into the molding, you can clearly taste the balance and the more natural flavors overall. You certainly want a sake that compliments and enhances that experience a little, but you don’t want one that overpowers. It’s tough when you don’t know much about a sake’s possible profile, though Maru-san’s a great guy and he won’t steer you wrong.
If the nigiri is stronger flavored overall (sake lees red vinegar seasoned sushi rice, aged chutoro zuke or a pristine piece of kohada with a nice umami accent from the salt and sour, with a good nikiri brushing on top), or a super fatty white fish like nodoguro or kinmedai that is seared, or a super fat piece of Japanese salt grilled beltfish (tachuio) then a light crisp and dry sake would be super awesome with it, particularly the profiles from Niigata prefecture (Koshi No Kanbai comes to mind), even Senshin and Tokugetsu (a seasonal limited offering from Kubota), or even the tried and true Kubota Manjyu. For that you want to chew your nigiri about 1/2 or 1/3 of the way through, take in a sip, then chew with the sake in your mouth for a better experience.
Houreki is not offered on the regular sake menu for one thing, but is certainly of interest to the super sake fans/purists.
I sincerely believe the lower end Junmai Daiginjo Kimoto of Daishichi, which is Minowamon, would be even better at Mori. Maru-san and I even talked about the highest end of that lineup, which is Myoga Rangokyu…it’s $425 to $525 retail, $425 I think at Kinjiro, and it’s a super beautiful bottle (it’s made with Murano glass!), and that one you probably don’t want to consume with sushi either. (Interestingly there is a Myoga Rangokyu Cuvee in Japan)
What Mori has in his regular sake menu lineup is already quite impressive IMO, particularly he doesn’t pick the super fancy ultra high end brand names, but yet are famous in their own right, with flavor profiles that match his food close enough. That is why you won’t see Dassai or Born, but you do at other places.
If I were to do this again, I would certainly pick something like Kokuryu Shizuku Daiginjo (although it’s $250, it’s seasonal, rare, and super damn good…Kokuryu is very much a famous brand name with reputation, though they are not the marketing giant genius like Dassai), Kokuryu Gold Daiginjo, or the Masumi Nanago Junmai Daiginjo (another fantastic one) which is made with the Yamahai method of not introducing starter yeast to the brewing batch, but rather having the mash create its own bacteria during the process (natural and more prolonged process), resulting in a very interesting finish with a bit more acidity than usual, and the use of #7 yeast is certainly interesting. Akitabare Suirakuten is a freaking excellent sake, it’s a 2 year aged Daiginjo but is very aromatic and a touch fruit forward…very dangerous because it’s addicting and if you drink too fast it will hit you eventually…but with the food at Mori it is briliant. We have a place in NorCal that has a similar profile to Mori’s (though very different style and not quite at the same level) where these sakes work brilliantly, and I firmly believe these ones I mentioned will at Mori.
I would also highly recommend any Dewazakura sake offered at Mori. The “Oka” is the lowest end Ginjo and even that one is very very good to start with (and would be great with the food). Dewazakura recently scored quite a number of gold medals at the International Wine Challenge 2016 (usually held in London, but this year in Osaka/Hyogo Prefecture area, supposedly the epicenter of sake in Japan, where all the top Yamadanishiki sake rice is grown). This brewery does killer sake overall, gorgeous tasting and pristine water (from Yamagata prefecture).
What’s interesting is Maru-san’s highest end regular sake menu offering of Tatsuriki. This comes from a brewer (Honda Shoten) in Hyogo prefecture (also where Maru-san is from), and this brewer is super anal about using very quality rice (the best of the best of Yamadanishiki) from specific rice growing region in the area. It has been said that their grade A/AA/AAA+ rice fields have been compared to the terroir for wines…with their top of the line Akitsu Junmai Daiginjo being dubbed the DRC of sake. Maru-san thinks Akitsu won’t go as well with nigiri, but I think it will (I actually had a bottle in SF at a pretty shitty Michelin sushi restaurant, damn fine sake though). So if you feel like balling, I do highly recommend trying the Akitsu once in your lifetime, and make sure it’s in a wine glass (pinot or burgundy glass would work) so you can savor all the aromas. Though if you cannot afford the Akitsu, the 300 mL or so bottle of Tatsuriki “Kome No Sasayaki” Daiginjo, even at 50% rice polish ratio, is damn excellent (and more affordable) and is quite the great pairing with his delectable cooked appetizers platter. Definitely enjoyed Akitsu far more than the Houreki. Though I’m sure some of you are thinking you would rather splurge on that Grand Cru instead.
Your erudite discourse on this matter is much appreciated.
When we were there this past Wednesday for lunch, there was only one other customer at the bar, and he got a nice custom chirashi bowl. Quite a few tables there and it looked like bento boxes (didn’t study closely enough what they were eating). I’m sure very few people splurge on omakase during lunch, but the fact they can do it (e.g. Premium Omakase) and pull it off with the same quality as dinner is very commendable.
Thanks @beefnoguy K K,
Really informative thoughts on Sake. One of these years I’ll save up enough to try that Akitsu.
I have tried Dewazakura before, but I really enjoyed Koshi no Kanbai Cho Tokusen Daiginjo Sake more (at least with Maru-san’s nigiri).