Saturday, March 10, 2012

A Taste of Japan - Japan Week

This last week was Japan Week, an event around the city that raised money for the Japan Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami relief efforts - but more importantly was an excellent excuse to drink Yamazaki and eat some amazing Japanese food.

We were invited to the kick off gala at Grand Central Station (one of the most incredible buildings in New York, if we might say so ourselves).  The fête was held in the station's Vanderbilt Hall, which was filled with red lanterns, ice sculptures, and cherry blossoms.  There were representatives from all of the best Japanese restaurants in town and other dining powerhouses as well; Daniel, Bond Street, David Bouley’s Brushstroke, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Public, Joël Robuchon’s Kibo, Kyoya, Sakagura, Hakata Tonton, Hibino, Ronin, Restaurant Nippon and Soba Nippon.

We, of course, started at the scotch table.  We've been fans of Japanese scotch for a while now - so we started off the evening with a flight of Hibiki, Hakushu, and Yamazaki 12 year and 18 year.  It's a special event when we get to enjoy an 18 year, and this one we did.  Smoky, woody, smooth, yet a little bit spicy.  Heaven. 

We then toured the tables, tasting one of each offering.  Each table had a unique dish that highlighted each respective chef.  Tuna cheeks, Imo Mochi of Urchin, Wasabi cured Fluke - this was anything but the expected.

A few of our favorites:

Grilled Sake Lee Marinated Scallops by Chef Hirohisa Hayashi of Hibino

Simmered Tuna Toro Cheeks by Chef Yoshi Takeda of Ronin Bar & Grill

Crab and Glass Noodle Rice with Sansho Pepper by Chef Koji Hagihara of Hakata Tonton

Kombu Cured Fuke Sushi & Imo-Mochi with Sea Urchin by Chef Shikara Sono of Kyo Ya

Hakuto Jelly

With our bellies full, but still thirsty, we made our way to the bar.  This evenings cocktails incorporated Green Tea into each of them, providing a simple yet powerful base to build a cocktail upon.  We found both cocktails to be very unique and sophisticated, sweet, savory, with just enough kick.   

The delicious Green Kmono by Esteban Ordonez

Green Kimono
By Esteban Ordonez

2 oz Iichiko Shochu
3/4 oz Nashi Pear Puree
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
Tip of bar spoon of Matcha Tea
3 drops of Kabosu juice
Garnish with a Nashi Square
Served in a coupe glass

Yamazaki 12 Year old & Pomelo by Gen Yamamoto

Yamazaki 12 Year Old & Pomelo
By Gen Yamamoto
(adapted from drink at Brushstroke)

1 oz Yamazaki 12 Year Old
2 ½ oz Pomelo Juice
1 tsp Fresh Lemon Juice
1 tsp Pomelo Confiture
1 oz Sen-Cha green tea
Garnish with Roasted Sen-Cha

Cook sugar with green tea to make a green tea simple syrup. Mix with kudzu powder and confiture and place in bottom of glass. Mix remaining ingredients except for roasted Sen-Cha and pour on top of green tea mixture. Top with roasted Sen-Cha.


Some photos by Gabi Porter, provided by Hanna Lee Communications.

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