Straying away from wine for one function, the International Wine and Food Society Philippines Branch recently had a sake-paired Omakase dinner at Fukudaya. Omakase means chef’s choice so we left it all up to the chef to construct the menu and make the appropriate sake pairings. All the ingredients were flown in from Japan, and in fact, even the chef, Yoichi Yoshimura, flew in from Japan to orchestrate the dinner. Also instrumental in putting it all together was Mr. Zenji Watanabe who acts as a liaison for Japanese businesses wanting to establish themselves in the Philippines.
Fukudaya is the Philippine outpost of the largest catering company in Tokyo and they considered this as a prestige event for them in the Philippines. A great deal of planning and and discussion over several months took place in order to make the dinner a success. The sake recommendations went through a sake expert in order to make the pairings work.
While waiting for all the guests to show up, diners were first treated to some Alsatian wines from the Society cellar, both Zind-Humbrecht. There was a gently fruity Clos Windsbuhl Riesling 2009, and a rather dry and stony Clos St. Urbain Rangen de Thann Riesling 2008.
A different sake was also prepared for each dish.
After some welcome remarks, the guests were seated and service immediately began. First came an appetizer of radish pickles with cream cheese and sake lees. Sake lees figured in many of the dishes and I was told that it is considered by women to be good for the skin. This was paired with an unfiltered sparkling sake.
The second dish was a selection of seasonal appetizers. The turban shell and roasted duck breast with cheddar cheese were particularly enjoyed. The Tatenogawa sake was paired with this.
Mussels and radish cake in dashi came next. This was paired with what was probably the favorite sake at our table, the Kuroshi Junmaiginjo.
A very high quality sashimi of white fish and otoro came next with the Shinomine Junmaidaiginjo Omachi.
Next came a summer vegetables kakiage tempura paired with Tamanohikari Iwai Junmaiginjo.
The grilled salmon came with the Hakkaisan Yukimurochouzu. This particular sake is stored in a “snow room” for 3 years. Winter snow is collected and kept in a room with the sake for natural refrigeration.
The main dish was Gunma wagyu steak with miso sauce, mushroom, and shichimi togarashi or Japanese pepper powder. The sake was the Shinomine Junmaidaiginjo Aiyama. This was the only sake pairing which many felt didn’t quite work out. I felt it was too light and dry to go with the very flavorful steak. A more powerful sake would have worked better, I think.
Instead of ending with the usual rice and soup, the rice came in the form of nigiri sushi paired with Hakkaisan Tokubetsu Junmai – an export only product.
There was no sake with dessert, but I don’t think that mattered as a lot of sake had already been consumed by this time. It was actually a trio of desserts – baked apple soup, sake ice cream, and a traditional Japanese sweet called Yatsuhashi stuffed with mango and red bean.
I had been to Fukudaya before and thoroughly enjoyed it, so I was quite sure they would do a great job with this dinner. The Society members agreed and expressed their appreciation to the chefs and service staff with a round of applause. This is a bit of a hidden gem, somewhat at the edge of BGC, in Arya residences, but definitely worth seeking out.
Fukudaya is located at Unit 7, The Plaza, Arya Residences, McKinkey Parkway, 8th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City. Tel 2469069 ext 694