JFOODO (The Japan Food Product Overseas Promotion Center) introduces a new way to think about food and beverage pairings; choose the combination by considering the synergy of umami. According to their research, seafood and sake is the utmost umami-enhancing pairing, which guests can experience by visiting the pick-up-only “Restaurant Unlocked To Go” in New York and Los Angeles this winter.
At Restaurant Unlocked, special food lockers will be available for guests to unlock and pick up pre-ordered bento boxes featuring a seafood menu crafted by Chef Johan Svensson, formerly of Aquavit in New York and Terra Mare in Florida. The meal will be paired with a complimentary sake bottle from one of the participating breweries to boost the ultimate umami, leading guests to unlock their palates and discover the savory taste of umami.
Guests will also receive access to a Kura Trip which will take them on a journey showing them how to enjoy the seafood and sake via a virtual sake brewery tour by simply scanning the QR code attached to the sake bottle with their device.
When creating the menus, Chef Svensson took umami points into consideration as he prepared special dishes such as “Smoked poached oysters drizzled with mild BBQ sauce on a bed of fennel slaw” and “Shrimp cocktail with cocktail sauce and lemon” to be paired with sake. Umami points are the scores used to measure the umami-synergy; how the pairings enhance each other to bring out the most umami.
Umami components include glutamic acid, inosinic acid, guanylic acid, and succinic acid, among others. Each of these alone can function as umami, but it is also known that multiple umami components can interact with each other to create a synergistic effect and further enhance the resulting umami. Japanese sake, containing glutamic acid and succinic acid, synergizes well with seafood, which not only contains inosinic acid but also has a fatty content that allows for easier acquisition of the umami-synergy. The Tokyo-based gastronomy and umami institute AISSY analyzed the pairings of 25 different dishes and multiple alcoholic beverages including sake, wine, champagne, gin and whiskey, by using their A.I. taste analyzer Leo. AISSY measured the growth of the umami scores by comparing them to the scores of the food alone; they have seen scores increase most when sake and seafood dishes are paired. Please see more details of this research at Sake-JFOODO.jetro.go.jp.
In New York, Restaurant Unlocked will pop-up on Level 1 of The Shops Hudson Yards (near the entrance on 33rd St. and 10th Ave.) from Tuesday, December 8th to Sunday, December 13th. Guests can pre-order their bento box from the website Sake-JFOODO.jetro.go.jp/us/unlocked/index.html and pick them up from the lockers by following the instructions sent to each guest via text messages. Each bento box is $20 and includes a bottle of sake by one of the breweries listed below.
List of sake by the participating breweries:
- Nanbu Bijin Tokubetsu Junmai From Nanbu Bijin Co.,Ltd. (Iwate Prefecture)
- Tatenokawa Junmai Daiginjo Phoenix from Tatenokawa, Inc. (Yamagata Prefecture)
- Kikusui Junmai Ginjo From Kikusui Sake Co., Ltd. (Niigata Prefecture)
- Akashi-tai Junmai Daiginjo Genshu from Akashi Sake Brewery Co., Ltd. (Hyogo Prefecture)
- Gekkeikan Horin Junmai Daiginjo from Gekkeikan Sake Company, Ltd. (Kyoto Prefecture)
- Oyster: Smoked poached oysters drizzled with mild BBQ sauce on a bed of fennel slaw
- Shrimp: Shrimp cocktail with cocktail sauce and lemon
- Crab: Crab roll infused with mayo, lemon, and old bay seasoning wrapped in green apple shavings
- Mussels: Terrine consisting of mussels, scallops, tomatoes, and carrots wrapped in bacon topped with seared clams
- Whitefish: Kombu cured whitefish topped with caviar, encapsulated by thinly sliced radishes and fennel pollen
- Tuna: Tuna Pastrami with side of German potato salad and pickles
Restaurant Unlocked in Los Angeles will pop-up in January 2021. Details will be shared on the website before the end of the year.
About JFOODO: The Japan Food Product Overseas Promotion Center (JFOODO) was established on April 1, 2017 within JETRO by Japanese Government. JFOODO will devote its resources to the branding of Japanese agricultural, forestry, fishery and food products.
About Chef Johan Svensson: A native of Torsö, Sweden, Chef Johan Svensson began his journey at the Culinary Institute of Gothenburg. In the years since, he has gained global recognition for having served as the executive chef of Aquavit, as well as other critically acclaimed restaurants in New York, Hawaii and Florida.