Oysters and Champagne—the classic pairing is synonymous with luxury and good taste from Mediterranean yachts to local Valentine’s Day dinners. But the Japan Food Product Overseas Promotion Center is attempting to prove the superiority of sake through a new pop-up series at seafood restaurants around the world.
Dr. Hitoshi Utsunomiya of the Sake and Food Lab and Japan’s National Research Institute of Brewing explains that sake is much richer than white wine in amino acids, which pair well with seafood. In contrast, the iron and sulfites commonly found in wine, “accelerate the oxidization of unsaturated fatty acids in richer seafood, which triggers fish odors,” Utsunomiya says.
The New York series kicked off Oct. 18 to 20 with Limani at Rockefeller Center. During a multi-course lunch or dinner, the restaurant was determined to show off the power of sake. Diners compared white wine with, for example, Kokuryu Tokusen’s Crystal Dragon served with organic salmon tartar. The dry Sohomare Karakuchi made East Coast oysters pop in a way that is different from Champagne. A parade of scrumptious seafood—crab cake, grilled octopus, lavraki a la spetsiota, royal dorado—each came with a crisp sake curated by certified sake sommelier Chris Johnson. Perhaps the best pairing was a gorgeous lobster linguine with the aptly named Masumi Nanago Seventh Heaven, which cuts through the richness of the lobster and the tomato sauce.