The Japan Food Product Overseas Promotion Center (JFOODO) is delighted to announce an exciting New York City pop-up honoring sake and seafood this October. Produced in collaboration with iconic seafood restaurant LIMANI, the “Restaurant Paired” pop-up will celebrate Japanese sake as the best alcohol pairing for seafood. Taking place inside LIMANI at Rockefeller Center from October 18th through October 20th, the pop-up will allow guests to explore this pairing with a new prix-fixe menu featuring elegant seafood dishes accompanied by a selection of premium Japanese sake curated by Certified Sake Sommelier Chris Johnson.
With a goal to enrich lives by proposing a unique pairing, JFOODO hopes to encourage New Yorkers to embrace the fresh harmony of seafood and sake, which is scientifically proven to enhance the umami of seafood even better than white wine. To explain this point, the restaurant will offer two contrasting dining areas — the “Ordinary” space where guests can enjoy seafood and wine pairings, and the “Escape the Ordinary” pop-up space where guests can venture for seafood and sake pairings. Upon entering the restaurant, diners will be led to the dining areas by twin greeters representing each space.
The “Ordinary” space features LIMANI’s original white and blue décor, while the “Escape the Ordinary” space will be decorated in black accents to highlight the contrast of the experience. The ordinary space will offer a sake and white wine flight served with oyster, octopus, and crab cake for $20 per person, and the Escape the Ordinary space will serve two special seafood and sake pairing menus for lunch and dinner. The lunch menu will include two glasses of sake for $50 per person, and the dinner menu will include three glasses of sake for $80 per person — both extremely great deals as the sake is basically complimentary!
As a drink, sake evolved alongside Washoku (Japanese cuisine), which aims to bring out the best in the raw ingredients used to make it. From a historical perspective, Japan has always been a seafood-focused country. Whether you’re by the sea or in the mountains, sake and seafood are served together all over Japan.
It is unsurprising that the Japanese have always paired sake with seafood rather than wine. Now, as exports of sake hit ¥22.2 billion (approximately $205 million) in 2018, it is clear that global diners are increasingly discovering why Japan’s national drink complements fish so well.
The key to this popularity is sake’s ability to bring out the natural flavors of seafood, while remaining non-reactive to potentially unpleasant odors. Because wine grapes absorb iron from the soul and many winemakers use sulfite as preservatives, wine can react badly with seafood, resulting in fishy odors. In contrast, sake brewers are prohibited from using sulfites, and any iron is filtered out of the water or removed when the brewers polish the rice grains. Additionally, according to Dr. Hitoshi Utsunomiya, the director of the Sake and Food Lab and sake expert at Japan’s National Research Institute of Brewing, sake has two-to-five times more amino acids than wine, and as amino acids translate to savory, umami flavors, it makes sake a natural pairing with any type of seafood because all seafood is rich in umami.
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