Monday, September 24, 2007

9/23/07: Dassai, Kudoki Jouzu and Shichiken Tasting at Chanto

Almost like clock work, I have been attending Chanto tasting during the third week of the month for third month in a row. Although the nature of the event was never fully advertised, this promised to be a great event, as I was provided information about this event from both Sakurai-san of Dassai and Kitahara-san of Shichiken. While having going to a saké tasting event featuring two of my friends was very appealing, the event proved to be far more impressive than I had anticipated.

In addition to Dassai and Shichiken, a third brewer was part of the evening's program: Mr. Toshifumi Imai of Kudoki Jouzu Brewery in the northern prefecture of Yamagata. Joining me tonight for this extravagance were my partners in crime Hideo and Tony, and we had late addition to our table: none other than Mr. Urban Saké himself, Tim Sullivan.

The idea behind the program was to pair five courses with six saké selections, two from each brewer. As if tasting sakés weren't enough, we were to receiv the sakés perosnally poured by each brewers, with detailed explanation.

Sakurai-san led off with his bread-and-butter, the incmparable Dassai 23 Junmai Daiginjo, to go with three types of Blue Fin Tuna (Akami, Chu-Toro, and Ō-Toro). While the pairing was great, I especially enjoyed the Chu-Toro.

Next up was Dassai 50 Junmai Ginjo, to complement Salmon Yuan-Yaki, which is made by marinating with sweet miso. The marinade provided salmon with saké kasu-like depth that managed to extract more fruitniess out of the saké.

In the three hole was Charcoal Grilled Prime Sirloin Steak, ordered medium-rare. Mr. Imai served two versions of Junmai Ginjo as accompaniment. The first selection was the regular Junmai Ginjo, which showcased the high quality of Yamagata yeast, with intense yet clean fruits on the palate. The second bottle was a treat, koshu version of the same saké that was aged for two years. Overall, the koshu paired well, as its nutty, earthy flavors paired well with the soy-based sauce, and softness and mellowness was just the right landing spot for the sweet miso paste.

Batting in the clean-up spot was the Sushi Platter of Chef's Omakasé choice. The sushi featured the usual suspects in the form of Chu-Toro, Akemi, Salmon, Uni-Scallion Roll, and interesting choice of Foie Gras. Saké selection was Shichiken Junmai Ginjo, served Nuru-Kan (for this definition, see this entry.)

The dessert was the decadent Chocolate Fondant paired with Shichiken "Bigin Bigin" Junmai Ginjo Koshu. Pairing with chocolate, whether it's wine, dessert wine, or saké is extremely tricky as chocolate tends to overwhelm the beverage to the point you don't really taste it. However, the depth of Shichiken allowed the flavor to stand up to the richnessof the chocolate.

Now, only if there were Maiko dancing to top off the evening...

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