Sake evenings: when the Japanese drink accompanies French gastronomy

For a long time, stereotypes about sake have been harsh, associated with this famous little shot served at the end of a meal in Asian restaurants, under which we often find a naked woman in a suggestive position. But this mediocre drink is a bad memory.

The export of Japanese sake to our country, which has been booming since 2013, has quadrupled in ten years and exceeded 500 thousand liters.

The growing consumption of this fermented rice-based beverage goes hand in hand with the French taste for Japanese gastronomy. It is obvious that this craze has attracted the attention of sommeliers and chefs.

Sake rebooted by Thierry Marx

It was Thierry Marx who introduced the first sake dishes at his Michelin-starred restaurant Camélia in 2013. Joël Robuchon opened Dassaï, a sake bar, in 2018. The epiphenomenon has spread… But still few people know the diversity of this alcohol, which has more than 600 aromas compared to 300 in wine and a huge number of variations: effervescent, old, floral, fruity, to drink hot or cold… Famous food and wine pairing no longer has a monopoly on good taste, now giving way to gastronomy and sake.

This is evidenced by the recent opening of Grain(s) by the prominent Parisian owners of Becs Parisiens, which owns Chocho, Le Christine and Colvert, among others.
This “food cellar”, the latest member of the group, belongs to this new generation of spaces where the pantry and the table are combined.

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The Grain(s) restaurant is a food cellar specializing in this rice alcohol.

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Its uniqueness: Offering bold combinations between Western dishes and a wide assortment of sakes. “This alcohol goes where wine doesn’t,” as the venue’s manager and sommelier Mathieu Guérin, trained by Mandarin Oriental’s head sommelier David Biraud and France’s best sommelier Xavier Thuizat, likes to repeat. “Some deals are hard to find. This is the case with asparagus, soups and velutes, or the famous “perfect eggs” that have become so popular lately. It’s so much easier to pair them with sake! »

Sohomare Junmai Ginjo is a pure and high-quality sake with a distinct structure.

Sohomare Junmai Ginjo is a pure and high-quality sake with a distinct structure.

©DR

Even if it means convincing some customers who are still too quick to utter the proverbial “I don’t like sake.” At this point I ask them what they don’t like, and it’s usually full of preconceived notions: too strong or conversely bland and basic. Although it is quite complex, we naturally do not think of this as a gourmet drink. » You must know how to gently guide novices towards new tastes. For the brave, the sommelier offers mix and match with the cuisine of Julian Avila, the second man in the business.

Linguini with smoked butter, mustard seeds, pickles and sage is paired with Cho Karakuchi sake from Hitakami. “Julian’s linguine is delicious, very aromatic and herbal with sage oil, and this sake has just the necessary power in the final note and brings relaxation and roundness, which is very interesting. »

Scallops, egg relish, pineapple pepper sauce and citron lemon are the perfect match for Aramasa’s love of the Earth. Finally, the sommelier recommends tasting the pear with Mizubasho sake, Junmai Ginjo from Nagai Shuzo, with jasmine syrup, vanilla mousse, peppermint oil and crisp white chocolate lemon. “An effervescent that is unfiltered, slightly cloudy, and gives off a mint flavor that pairs well with peppermint oil. » Obviously the naked girls at the bottom of the shots can put their clothes back on… Cheers!

Alcohol abuse is dangerous to health. Consume in moderation.

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