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Here’s another plus about my job.

Even though I don’t live in a first world country and don’t get access to as much variety of fantastic wines, I do still get some perks of discovering great liquor and learning about them when I get invited by my suppliers to dinners like the Sake Dinner at Senju, Edsa Shangri-La.

I attended this last March 15, 2012 and I asked my friend Marj to come along.

We both like food, sake (or alcohol in general haha) and are uncomfortable with “adult functions” where adult functions are classified as: functions which involve talking to strangers, most of them much older than you are, instead of getting blasted and giggling to loud music.

Curiosity really pushed me to attend this event despite possible discomfort from some socializing because I Don’t know much about sake. In fact, I don’t know anything about sake…except for sake bombs. This was the perfect opportunity to learn about sake and discover their different properties and flavors and how they merge with food.

This was my first time at Senju since I’m always at Summer Palace when I’m at Edsa Shangri-La.

They brought us first to the cocktail reception where we got try sparkling sake. It tasted like a drier and less sweet version of Asti. First time to try sparkling sake so it was interesting. I mentioned that it would taste very good in a cocktail and my supplier told me that they do make Saketinis with that particular sake.

No picture there because it was too dark. I was having camera issues that night since I just got a new lens.

They brought us to the main dining area which was really bright for some reason. I would have preferred dimmer lights. I got so used to the dimmer lights in Tokyo whenever I entered a restaurant.

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Here’s part of the menu.

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I told Marj I’m glad we were eating Japanese when I saw the menu. We won’t feel as bad since Japanese food is healthier and less fattening than Western cuisine (French or American).

Appetizer/Sakizuke was composed of Hotate Motoyaki (Baked Scallop with Miso Gratin), Toto Sumiso Ae (Tuna belly in miso-vinegar sauce), Ni-anago Sushi (simmered salt water eel sushi) and Tako siokara (marinated octopus).

This was paired with Tsuki Pak sake which was off dry with no lingering after taste.

Hotate Motoyaki

This complete dish was taken by my iPhone. HAHA!

I really liked the pairing of the tuna belly with the Tsuki Pak the best because it really brought out the innate sweetness of the tuna and also heightened the miso-vinegar flavors by masking the vinegar’s acidity. Rice wine vinegar is also a little bit sweet so the sake really brought that out for the tuna. It actually had the same properties of a Riesling for this dish. It was great, cause I really hate vinegar. This really went well with the marinated octopus because it also had vinegar.

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My favorite dish in itself was the baked scallop because it was luscious and delicious.

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One scallop was not enough. I needed 3, at the very least. Then I remembered there were other courses.

Next up was Mukouzuke/Sashimi which is a very standard sashimi plate with Kampachi, mekajiki, shake sashimi (amber jack, big eye swordfish, salmon sashimi) paired with Nama Draft Sake.

Mukouzake;

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The highlight for this course was definitely the sake. Nama Draft sake, I was told, is a fresh sake which has a shelf life of only 6 months. They flew it in from Japan, specifically for the dinner. The sake was really refreshing and reminded me of drinking from spring water. It was really cool in the throat and silky. This sake is also off dry. The sashimi was paired with it so as not to drown or mask the fresh, cool properties of the sake. Had they served anything else with this sake, it would have drowned and you wouldn’t have appreciated the sake.

Nama Draft Sake

They also served Unafutomaki and ebi ten roll (Fresh water eel giant roll and prawn tempura roll) with Yamada Nishiki Sake which is a fine sake with that picks up flavors easily. They served it in a wooden box (which at first I thought was an ashtray). They said it would pick up the woodsy flavors of the box and it did. It was a bit difficult drinking from the box because a) it was a box b) the edges were a bit thick c) you have to drink from the side slowly (I don’t drink slowly, I gulp) and d) I’m also not the neatest eater. I spill stuff all over me but I managed.

I’m not a big fan of Futomaki or cooked sushi in general so I concentrated on the sake for this dish.

The next course was Shirumono/Soup called Ise Ebi Shinjo suimono.

Yes, I’m allergic to lobster and yes, I still ate it.

You know why?

Because it reminded me of matzo ball soup! But lobster!!! I miss matzo ball soup so having this got me really excited. I completely ignored drinking sake for the duration that this was in front of me (not very long).

We finally get to the main course which is teppanyaki.

It is Hamachi, Kumamoto gyuniku sirloin to irodoro yasai which is just yellowtail, kumamoto beef sirloin and assorted vegetables. This was served with Horin Junmai Daiginjo sake.

Kumamoto Gyuniku Sirloin - very tender! and juicy, with glorious fat. Thanks for the sake cause the alcohol cut down the fat so I could drink more. TEE HEE!

Oh god, the beef! How can I even begin to explain how GLORIOUS the beef was? The marinade was light, some soy sauce, some mirin and it was cooked/seared on the teppanyaki table. It was so tender! so delicious. I can tell you that my portion was not enough. I looked over at my friend’s plate for more but she finished hers. How sad I was.

And the sake!!! How amazing it was. It was very fine! finer than the Nama Draft Sake. Between the Nama and this one, I had trouble choosing my favorite so they’re both my favorite. You can’t even tell you’re drinking sake. You can barely taste the alcohol but you can feel it running through your veins. We start to giggle at this point. Silent giggles.

Horin JunMai Daiginjo - very fine sake; could barely taste alcohol; goes down smooth and silky

The yellowtail was a bit overcooked but the flavor was wonderful. I would have enjoyed it more had it been cooked less.

Thankfully, they only brought the rice at the end because us being Filipinos, we would have attacked it first and not have had space for the rest.

They brought Shimeji niniku yakimeshi (shimeji garlic fried rice), Kaki Miso Jiru (oyster miso soup) and Nasuzuke to shibazuke (pickled eggplant).

The thing the stood out for me the most was the oyster miso soup. It was only when I bit into the oyster that it stood out. The oyster was so briny! I tasted sea and salt and ocean floor (which was good) but it was too briny for me. All I could think of was “Where’s my Pinot Grigio?”. I haven’t seen Muscadet de Sevre et Maine here but if they did, I would have asked for that one instead.

I barely touched the pickled eggplant because pickled = vinegar. HAHA!

Finally, dessert. Honestly, I didn’t have space for it anymore. I just took a bite of each and drank the sake to learn about dessert sake.

It was Sakura noha mizuyoukan to kuromame amaguri ice cream or red bean gelatin with cherry blossom leaf and sweet black beans on chestnut ice cream with Kirei Plum sake.

mizugashi dessert

Let me break it down for you. My friend said it the best. This was Champoy in a sake.

This sake was very plummy though not that sweet and the dessert made it even plummier and also smokier especially with the red bean gelatin. The chestnut ice cream was very light but the cherry blossom leaf on top was very interesting. It was crunchy. This dessert was not very sweet which I appreciated although I’m not a big fan of plums as well. I will leave the Kirei Plum sake to the dessert fanatics to finish.

For me, I will have my Nama Draft Sake and my Horin Junmai Daiginjo.

Thanks April of the Philippine Wine Merchants for the invite.

Till Next Time!

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