Last Wednesday, I was invited to Nipponista, an event organized by Tabélog US, the largest Japanese restaurant review website and hosted by Isetan, the largest department store in Japan at Maison O in Soho. The purpose is to showcase Japanese fashion, art, food, lifestyle and craftsmanship.
The dinner, prepared for the occasion by Chef Tadashi Ono, the former executive chef of Matsuri (above) was paired with Mizubasho sake presented by Mr Shoichi Nagai (below), the chairman of Nagai Sake Inc. who made each sake presentation interesting.
He greeted us with a glass of Mizubasho Sparkling Sake:
I never had sparkling sake before and did not even know it existed!
The evening continued with a presentation by Kanso groceries of dashi and an explanation about umami, the fifth taste sensation after sweet, sour, bitter and salty. To show us how dashi enhances flavors, they made us taste some miso with water (left) and some miso with dashi (right).
We could definitely taste the difference, the first one being tasteless and the second one being flavorful. They proceeded to explain to us how to make it, using dried bonito:
and Hana-Kombu (kelp):
You let both elements infuse like you would make tea, et voila!
Then, we had some amuse bouche. The first one was Dashikarikori-kan with black truffle:
And the second one Kumamoto Oysters:
They were served with ponzu ice:
Then, we go a black cod:
It was steamed with sake and served with a dash-kanten gravy. In the bottom was some daikon. This was a great dish: the fish was perfectly cooked, flaky with a delicate taste.
It was paired with a Mizubashojunmaidai-ginjo premiere sake:
They served it in a silver cup that is suppose to give a smoother taste to the sake.
In fact, we event tried in a regular sake glass and definitely tasted the difference.
They came a dish that I really wanted to try as soon as I read the menu: a ribeye steak with caramelized onions and a grilled rice ball:
The presentation was beautiful and this dish delicious. First of all, the ribeye was perfectly cooked medium. Then, there was this rice ball that was crunchy on the outside and not dry at all on the inside, pairing perfectly with the steak and even with the caramelized onions that added a nice sweetness to the dish.
With the steak, we had a glass of Mizubasho vintage 2004 sake:
I truly appreciated it with my steak and even ranked this sake my favorite of the evening. I admit that I never thought about drinking sake with a ribeye, going usually for a bold red wine like pinot noir.
Last was dessert.
It was a dish composed of a coconut panna cotta with a melon compote.
This was very light and refreshing and we could definitely taste that it was made with coconut milk.
The second dessert was a Green Tea tiramisu:
This was also very good: light, it was interesting to see how green tea and coffee pair well together.
As it was a sake tasting, it was served with a dessert sake:
The packaging was beautiful and looked a bit like a perfume bottle in a way.
We had a wonderful time at Maison O, enjoying the evening with our friend Malini, The Restaurant Fairy, and talking with other bloggers, especially Chubby Chinese Girl Eats, Johnny Prime Steaks and The Cake Dealer as well as the organizers and hosts. It is always interesting to discover other cuisines, other flavors
Thanks to Tabélog, Isetan, Nagai Sake, Inc and Maison O for this great event that was covered by NHK TV:
Enjoy (I did)!
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And Remember: I Just Want To Eat!