Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Sake and Saga Steak Pairing at The Fireplace

Truly one of the best meals I have ever had!



A few weeks back, I attended a very special event at The Fireplace at New World Manila Bay Hotel.
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Our dinner was all about sake and saga beef.. and to tell you the truth, it was one of the BEST meals I have ever had. For those who don't know, Saga is one of the best wagyu beef in Japan, along with Kobe (which I'm sure you're familiar with) and Matzusaka Beef.
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What makes Saga Beef special? Well, according to JAL, "Saga Beef is a product of the rich natural environment of Saga Prefecture, nurtured lovingly by fattening farmers in its mild climate, and using the benefits of its delicious water and crisp clean air. The farmers tend their cattle with rigorous attentiveness, showering them with affection and using expert rearing techniques to ensure they feel no stress from the time they are calves."
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Crazy, right? Just imagine, the cows suffer no stress at all! Buti pa sila! Haha!
Saga beef is ranked at A4 to A5 level, with A5 being the highest grade given to the finest beef.
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Aside from this beautifully marbled meat, we also got to enjoy different sake from the Saga Prefecture.
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Located on Japan's southern Kyushu Island, the Saga Prefecture is one of Japan's best quality sake rice-producing regions. Many of Saga's water sources have been selected as part of Japan's 100% top water sources for their mineral content and purity. The result is a sake with a terroir of rich and mellow sake that matches the comparatively heavier cuisine often encountered in southern Japan.
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Saga Prefecture has developed a system called The SAGA, modelled after the European AOC system used for wine and other artisanal products. This is another indication of the quality and unique nature of sake from Saga Prefecture. Once viewed as an underdog in the industry, the small area has gone against all odds to win competitions both domestic and international for the quality and identity of their sake.
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We started off with the Saga-beef Tofu "Ginza Kira Style" paired with Nabeshima by Fukuchiyo. To tell you the truth, I don't know much about sake. But this one is said to be filtered through charcoal resulting in a pronounced angular character unique to the Muroka (non-charcoal filtered) style. For the Fukuchiyo brewery, they believe that water is paramount, so they ship water from about 100km away due to the optimal mineral content needed to produce their Nabeshima sake.
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The sukiyaki beef and the silky tofu combination was a pretty amazing start. I honestly did not expect a lot from this dish being that it was first one, but my, did it raise my expectations for all the next ones!
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Next, we had the Asian Steak Tartar. They paired this one with the Amabuki Daiginjo which has a polishing rate of 40%. Since Japanese sake is made with rice that is polished or milled down, this means that the more rice is polished, the higher the grade of the sake. The Amabuki has a pristine finish, with its classic notes of musk melon and canned pear; it has the weight to match the proteins and cut through the tuna, while the dressing of the tartare balances the flavors of the sake itself.
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Another favorite of mine was the Beef Soup with sheets of Wagyu. I love how they produced a simple yet flavorful soup base to still be able to highlight the meat. This shabu-shabu style dish is paired with Manrei by Komatsu Shuzo which was founded - would you believe - in the mid 1800's!
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In this sake, you will find mild notes of ginger and white flower with a subtle spice that will brighten the sake. The Miyamanishiki rice complements the richness of the soup very well. The meat, of course, is superb.
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Also paired with the Manrei is the Roast Saga Beef in Baked Pie Wrap.
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We were left in awe when Guest Chef Shimoyama began slicing the baked pie crust to reveal the huge piece of Saga Beef inside. The pie is made out of fondant potato and onion soubise, which we all so badly wanted a piece of, because it looked so delicious (not to mention, filled with the juices of the beef).
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We quickly forgot about the pie as we tasted the roast saga beef in all its buttery and mouthwatering goodness!
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Our second main course was the Saga Beef with Nori Risotto "A la Bottura" paired with Shichida by Tenzan. It has a polishing rate of 65% and is one of the most raw, pure form of sake available in the market.
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The rich aroma of fresh green apples and honey with a fine acidity in the finish that balances the rich palate while allowing for a long finish. It has a texture to it due to the loose fining of the sake lees, which goes highly well with the flavor of the risotto and brings about a richness and rawness to match the saga beef.
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I would have loved to get a second serving of that nori risotto. Just amazing.
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To end the night, we were presented with the Tonka Bean Panna Cotta Sakura. Beautifully executed with flowers on top and paired with the Nogomi Daiginjo - rare sake with a limited production of only 1500 bottles. The Nogomi is all about colored flowers and apples that accents any starch or savory notes from the beans and also highlights the floral nature of the sakura.
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The panna cotta wasn't overly sweet. It had the right consistency and texture to it, and just firm enough that it doesn't break down with every scoop. On another note, the Nama Chocolate is to die for! It has a velvety smooth texture that melts in your mouth - we couldn't stop eating it! Even the bamboo is made out of chocolate! This dessert is everything my heart desires and more!!
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As much as this is a one-time event, I'm sure The Fireplace has more in store for all you guys. So make sure to follow New World Manila Bay on Facebook for updates!
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The Fireplace is located at Level 5, New World Manila Bay Hotel, 1588 Pedro Gil Corner M.H. Del Pilar Street, Malate, Manila.
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The Fireplace - New World Manila Bay Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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