Umami is often translated as savouriness, and is the taste one gets from monosodium glutamate (MSG/flavour enhancer 621) but there are also glutamates found naturally in food. Tomatoes, mushrooms, parmesan cheese, soy sauce, and most meats and seafood are all known for their umami taste.
|The Nightingale Song cocktail and canapes at Sake Restaurant and Bar, |
Argyle Street, The Rocks
These two guys apparently went back and forth through a lot of pain and tastings over many weeks to achieve two sets of cocktails and canapes that provide "a perfect balance of flavours", according to executive chef and MasterChef alumni, Shaun Presland.
Each component is intended to bring out the best of the other and enhance the overall experience, to the extent that Shennen calls the cocktails "subdued" so as to make room for the flavours of the food. Nonetheless, I simply adore the evocatively named 'The Nightingale Song' cocktail on its own.
|The Nightingale Song cocktail|
The saltiness of the red, pickled plum sauce is nowhere to be tasted until the very bottom of the drink, where the red plum sediment rests, although I think it lends fantastic restraint to the Choya umeshu's sweetness.
The smell of pear from the Absolut vodka is prominent, but not on the palate, while the riesling adds body, and the lemon and bianco vermouth aids a dry, uncloying finish. I also adore these elegant cocktail glasses.
|Yuzu snapper spoon|
The white flesh of the snapper sashimi was yieldingly soft and its subtle flavour makes it an ideal match for the yuzu and olive oil dressing (yuzu described as a mix between a grapefruit and an angry madarin, Shennan shares - and he's not wrong).
The fine dice of salted seaweed was a little lost on me, especially with tobiko to concentrate on, but the seaweed alone is apparently a great drinking snack.
|Scallop ume spoon|
Garnished with thinly chiffonaded shiso leaves and presented on translucent slices of cucumber, these added colour and another texture against which the sweet scallops really shined.
|The Honey Dragon cocktail and canape|
|The Honey Dragon cocktail|
The Islay single malt whiskey had its trademark (for me) smokey, burnt leather taste - but in a completely subtle and surprisingly drinkable way, while the chilli just tickled the back of the throat. I think the lemon juice and cinnamon syrup definitely helped, as too the pretty floating garnishes.
The cocktail also subtlely included shochu spirit; apparently now the drink of choice for Japan's females due to its low calorie content.
|Seared salmon (or ocean trout?) belly|
|Seared salmon (or ocean trout?) belly with yuzu soy|
I contemplated drinking the yuzu soy dressing but didn't - although thankfully as Presland, Hatanake and Shennen had organised other goodies for us, including steamed prawn dumplings, teriyaki burger balls and a "hand roll sushi party" (does that count as cooking?), as well as impromptu beer and sake tastings - see photos here at my Facebook page.
The 'Umami Cocktail and Canape Menu' is available at the Sake bar at $25 per combination.
Food, booze and shoes sampled the Umamai Cocktail and Canape Menu courtesy of Sake Restaurant and Bar, with thanks to Lindy Thompson PR (and Shaun Presland, Shimpei Hatanake and Wayne Shennen!).