Friday, March 30, 2018

Sake Pairing Dinner: SAITO x Tatsu, InterContinental Kuala Lumpur

Sake pairing is getting increasingly popular as more restaurants worldwide collaborate with sake producers to showcase the versatility of sake and the food it compliments.

Last week, we had the pleasure of attending a 6-course Sake Dinner at Tatsu Japanese Restaurant at InterContinental Kuala Lumpur, whereby Japanese food is paired with sake from SAITO. It was an interesting evening as the principal from SAITO, Mr. Daiki Tojo was there to enlighten us about the brewery and the different sake that it produces. We were honoured to be educated about sake by a master of the industry.

Originating from Kyoto in Japan, SAITO is an authentic Japanese sake made using the highest quality water and rice. They are positioned fifth out of over 1600 sake breweries in Japan. They use Fushimizu (natural spring water from Kyoto which is medium hard), which results in a mild, smooth and easy to drink sake.

The quality of sake is determined by the rice polishing ratio; the more polished the rice is, the better quality the sake will be. For example, the SAITO Super Premium Junmai Daiginjo, which is the highest sake range rom SAITO, is made up of rice with a polishing ratio of 35% (ie 65% polished off with 35% of each grain remaining).

Meanwhile, the food paired with the sake was prepared by the Tatsu team, led by Japanese Head Chef Tommy Kuan. To start, we had the Oyster Tempura with Yuzu Dressing, paired with SAITO Yuzu Hikari. This sparkling sake was refreshing with a clean finish and citrus flavour,  and is best served with fried food such as tempura. Furthermore the yuzu dressing in the dish is a good match to the yuzu flavours in the sake. A good alternative to champagne, this sparkling sake can be served as an aperitif. My favorite sake of the evening.

For the next course, the Kanpachi Rolled Avocado, was paired with the SAITO Karakuchi, a dry sake with 70% rice polishing ratio.This is usually available as a house sake as it pairs well with many different types of Japanese food. The Kanpachi rolled avocado was excellent; firm, fresh fish wrapped around creamy avocado and baby sprouts for textural delight. Served on the side are firefly squid with ohba dressing, a specialty at spring time.

Taranome sprouts, which comes from the Japanese angelica tree is another ingredient in season now in Japan. Eaten in spring, the shoots are often fried in a tempura batter. It has a mild bitterness so it pairs well with the SAITO Junmai (with 70% rice polishing ratio), which is a rich and dry sake with a fruity aroma. Served with the taranome sprouts are maitake (mushroom) tempura and shishito (Japanese chilli).

Next, we moved on to the premium sakes, starting with the SAITO Junmai Daiginjo with a 50% polishing ratio. This full-bodied, elegant sake has a rich flavour with a gentle finish and a lovely fruity aroma. It is made using the highest grade Yamadanishki rice, also known as the "King of Rice" which is best suited for brewing sake.

This sake is best paired with sashimi, sushi or carpaccio, hence Chef Tommy served us tuna sushi from Japanese bluefin tuna, particularly the akami and chutoro cuts. The sake should be served either cold or at room temperature to preserve the fruity aroma.

Yuzu Sorbet, to cleanse the palate

The best dish of the evening was the Japanese Wagyu A5 Teppan Batayaki, using Wagyu beef from Miyaki prefecture. According to Chef Tommy, the cows are slaughtered in the 35th month when they're deemed to be at their optimum.

This beautiful, highly-marbled cut of meat is paired with the SAITO Super Premium Junmai Daiginjo, also made with Yamadanishki rice  (35% rice polishing ratio), with an elegant, fruity aroma (think bananas and peaches). Another one which I love as it has a smooth, sweet finish.

Wagyu A5, served with asparagus and mixed mushrooms, crispy garlic chips, sake and butter soy sauce (oh and crispy Wagyu fats).

For dessert, we had the Baked Fuji Apple with Matcha Financier, Peanut Butter Soil and Raspberry Sorbet, served with a sweet Umeshu. The caramelised apple is a good match for the sweet umeshu. A fantastic end to our meal.

An amazing evening of the finest Japanese cuisine and sake.. thanks InterContinental Kuala Lumpur for having us!

For those interested to sample the above menu, Tatsu will be offering the 6-course Sake Dinner Menu from 1 April to 16 May 2018 at RM350 nett per person (food only), with an option to add RM150 for sake pairing.

Opening times: Lunch Mon-Fri 12.00pm to 2.30pm; Sat, Sun & PH 11.00am to 2.30pm; Dinner 6.30pm to 10.30pm daily.

Location: Tatsu Japanese Restaurant, Level 1, InterContinental Hotel Kuala Lumpur, 165 Jalan Ampang, 50450 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Tel: 03-2782 6118


GPS Coordinates: 3.160249, 101.717584

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