Terry Selections recently organized a dinner at Solaire Resort’s Yakumi Japanese restaurant to show off their new line of New Zealand wines from Ohau Wines. Aside from the wines, I decided to go since I had never been to Solaire and wanted to see if indeed it is a game changer as their ads proclaim.
Ohau wines started out when the owners were looking to develop a subdivision on the Kapiti Coast of New Zealand’s North Island. A viticulturist happened to take a look at the site and realized it was superbly suited for planting wine grapes. The subdivision was scrapped and instead a vineyard went up.
We started with some Sauvignon Blanc 2010 paired with excellent sushi. The wine’s lemony character accenting the freshness of the fish. Upon warming up a bit, a pronounced green pepper flavor took over which added some complexity.
While waiting for the other guests, I was able to take a look around the restaurant. It’s quite spacious and well lit with a large open kitchen right in the center so you can see the chefs at work. There was a display case all around the kitchen to showcase the fresh seafood on offer. Particularly striking was an Alaskan King Crab that looked particularly inviting. I was also able to look at the regular menu. It has all the Japanese staples in it and while the prices are on the high side, they are not frightening. An order of tempura is around P 800.00 while a bento box set lunch is around P 1600.00. While it wouldn’t be my go-to Japanese place, I would certainly consider coming back for a special meal.
We were seated when all the guests had arrived and the first wine was poured. This was the Woven Stone Pinot Gris 2011. Medium gold and fairly rich, this had a good weight to it but was lightened by a pronounced acidity. This wine shows mostly peach flavors with a touch of lychee on the finish. The accompanying dish was an Agedashi Tofu topped with some Uni and Bonito Flakes in a Soy Dashi broth. It was a fine rich on rich pairing with the fruit in the wine taking on the sweetness of the broth without any trouble.
The second course was a superb Sashimi selection of Tuna, Salmon and Amberjack. Instead of the usual wasabi paste made from powder or squeezed from a tube, this restaurant shows real class by having a waiter go around offering freshly shaved wasabi root for your sashimi. They even have the proper sharkskin grater to do it with. If you haven’t had fresh wasabi, you’re missing a whole dimension new dimension to sashimi or sushi. Unlike the harsh burn of the powdered stuff, this is sweet and with a much gentler burn. Truly something for aficionados to experience. This was paired with the Woven Stone Pinot Noir 2011. The Pinot Noir was my favorite wine of the evening; full of plump cherry and cocoa powder. Some sweet spice notes were also forthcoming and although this has seen some wood treatment, the influence is quite discreet.
Our main course was a trio of Lamb, Beef and Pork marinated in green miso which gives a distinct sweet flavor to the meat. All the meat was expertly cooked and very tender. The marinade did overpower the distinct flavor of the lamb which some thought was a bit of a shame but I was not bothered by it. Paired with this dish was our last wine, the Ohau River Merlot 2009. This is made in a very soft and forward style that is very easy to drink. I found it rather understated although some opined it might just need a few more years to open up. It did, however, pair much better with the meat than the Pinot Noir.
Our last dish was a dessert of Wasabi Pannacotta. Slightly firm with a light touch of wasabi heat, this dessert isn’t for everyone although I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The quality of the wines goes without saying. JC de Terry, who has a doctorate in Oenology, certainly has the palate to pick winners. The service was quick and efficient and the staff quite knowledgeable about the items on offer. You ask them a question and they answer immediately without hesitation. As for the food, from what I tried at this dinner, it seems to be quite excellent. The sushi and sashimi in particular stand out. I would certainly come back to try more dishes.
Yakumi is located at the Ground Floor, Solaire Resort and Casino, 1 Solaire Blvd, Manila Bay Reclamation Area, Pasay Ciy. Tel 8888888
Ohau Wines are available at all Terry Selections outlets located at Pasong Tamo Extension, Salcedo Village, Makati, and The Podium, Mandaluyong