Little Tastes of the Dahlia: Japan
Tuesday found M and I at the Dahlia Lounge looking forward to one of their Little Tastes of the Dahlia. These small group events are held periodically and are often based on something Tom Douglas is focusing on learning. This particular event ended up being a three-for-one bonanza!
The original concept for the event according to Tom, was a focus on saké and to that end the folks from Saké One, a sakéry located in Forest Grove, Oregon were on-hand to present tastes and educate us about sake.
Then there were the small bites prepared by Tom and team to accompany the saké.
As a special bonus, Tom procured a whole tuna from Mutual Fish and Chef Ken Yamamoto from Shiki on Queen Anne was on hand to show us how to break it down, talk about how all parts of the tuna are used and to give us sample of the freshly cut toro.
I arrived a bit early and took the opportunity to take a seat at the nearly empty bar – something not often found at Dahlia. I ordered one of the specialty cocktails, a Purpledrop made with Parfait Amour – perfect for the season. When M arrived she had a sip and didn’t care for the cocktail but I really liked it as the bitter orange from the Parfait Amour was the lead player in the flavors.
We soon found ourselves sitting front and center (thanks M for grabbing the great seats!) and looking at a table with a 60+ pound tuna waiting its destiny. After some preliminary opening remarks by Tom, Chef Yamamoto was soon working at breaking down the tuna into pieces you’d recognize at your fish market. While working there was discussion about the age of the fish (only about a year old and not as fatty as preferred for toro), what pieces are used in what types of dishes and how all pieces are used so as not to waste anything.
While Chef Yamamoto continued with his work, the Saké One guys (including their assistant Sakémaster) proceeded to educate us about saké in general and specifically about the three types we would be tasting that night: Momokawa Silver; Momokawa Pearl;Nebuta Warrior. They provided us with a ton of information including a 20+ page booklet about saké and a saké cocktail guide. The booklet did have a certain amount of information about their particular line but the first half is about sakémaking and tasting and provides a glossary of terms which is very helpful across the board.
As Chef Yamamoto finished plating the tuna we’d soon be enjoying plates of small bites started arriving from the Dahlia kitchen. Scallop and salmon roll, Cod with saké lees, Razor clams and American Kobe rounded out the line-up of offerings for the night.
At all times during the presentations and demonstrations questions were welcomed and addressed. I found the evening to be more educational than I would have predicted.
We eventually settled in to enjoy sipping our various sakés with the small bites trying to pick which went best with what. The other people seated at our table were friendly (aren’t most foodies?) and while we sampled we got to know a bit about them, too. It was a great evening and I look forward to attending more of these Little Tastes of the Dahlia.
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