Sake Dinner at Makoto: Injected Hamachi Pastrami Airbread and UFO Sake (Photos)
John "the Sake Guy" Gauntner hosted a special sake pairing dinner last night at Makoto. The five-course meal paired sake handpicked by Gauntner with dishes by chef Makoto Okuwa. Reps from the breweries of the featured sake were on site and roaming the dining room to pour and educate attendees about their brewed beverage.
All photos by Carla Torres An evening of sake at Makoto.
Short Order was invited to attend this stop on their cross-country sake tour. Check out pictures of the delights after the jump.
Gauntner and sake breweries are traveling across the country and making stops in various markets. Among them are San Francisco, Chicago, Houston, and Miami. The breweries traveling with Gauntner change from city to city, but one thing they all have in common is that they have been selected by Gauntner, which makes them among the best in the world. It's the first time Makoto has pulled together four such prestigious breweries, as well as Gauntner (who's in Miami for the fifth time), for a dinner of this kind.
Gauntner never had plans of a career in sake or becoming the world's only non-Japanese certified master of the brewed beverage. "Life has a funny way of working out, though," he laughs. "My plan was to be in Japan for six months. It's been 25 years."
Completely engrained in the Japanese culture, Gauntner speaks fluent Japanese with his Japanese wife and two kids. He looks less from his native Ohio and more from Japan. "It's all the sake," he says. And, boy, does he drink a lot of sake. It is his job, after all. He sat with us and anyone else who attended the sake dinner, drinking and guiding us through our sake-pairing experience.
Takatenjin, or "soul of the sensai," is a Daiginjo from Shizouka, which is an hour and a half from Tokyo. The best-brewed tea in Japan comes from Shizouka. The brewery itself has been around for 130 years, forged into what it is today by one of the most famous master brewers in Japan, who passed about two years ago. Fortunately, his understudy has never missed a beat and continues to produce a clean, dry, and rich brew, considered one of Japan's most highly regarded sakes.
Because of the melon-like, fruity taste of the Takatenjin, it pairs excellently with oysters. Makoto's rendition of fresh Japanese oysters is kept chilled with ice infused with Japanese cucumber, serrano pepper, and cilantro, and finished with oyster sauce.