Originally from Sapporo, Takuya Watanabe is the chef-owner of Jin, Michelin starred sushi restaurant in Paris. Opened in 2013, Taku was one of the first sushi masters in Europe to serve omakase behind the counter, just like in Japan. He has also put a lot of time and effort into sourcing only the top quality local fish, which he would often age depending on the type. While getting the top-notch neta (sushi topping) is a must for any high-end chef nowadays, rice is where usually Edomae sushi chefs can really leave their footprint. Chef’s Taku rice is quite distinctive, more vinegared and salty than one might expect. This was Taku-san’s guest appearance at Bisushima in London in collaboration with sake sommelier Natsuki Kikuya, who has created the pairing with 4 different kinds of sake specially brought from Japan.
According to Natsuki, outside of Japan, sushi is thought as the perfect pairing with sake, but as taste of the neta varies so much, it is actually quite a challenge to find a sake that goes well with all the fish. If you are choosing one sake to go with a plate of sushi, most neutral Honjozo is the safest choice, but for omakase she suggests having several carafes of sake starting with the lighter/softer style and gradually inclining the intensity.
Natsuki paired the omakase with 4 different sakes.
1) With Shuhari 1314-1 she wanted to highlight the purity of sake which cleanse your palate with subtle effervescence. It went well with the squid and the sea bream.
2) Hiroki Junmai Daiginjo showcased the beautiful aromas of Ginjo with such notes as cantaloupe melon, grapefruit and lemongrass. It harmonised perfectly with the sea bass and the scallop.
3) Yamagata Masamune 1898 Junmai had an amazing texture with creamy lactic characteristics and umami on back notes. Trout and horse mackerel worked greatly with the richness.
4) She chose Kikuhime Junmai to show how bold and rich sake can get. This particular sake adds caramel/molasses touch to palate and layers incredibly with the umami of Akami and mackerel.