When Two Worlds Collide
We all know that beautiful things happen when two cultures come together – just look at Harry and Meghan, or the invention of the ‘cronut’. But Japan and California? Not the most natural pairing…
So I was inevitably a little sceptical when invited to Sosharu’s California Meets Japan evening. But then any restaurant owned by Jason Atherton is not to be sniffed at, so I braced myself for an evening that I assumed would consist of palm trees, tempura, and perhaps some sort of miso-wine concoction.
What I actually got? Six courses of delectable Japanese fayre, all expertly paired with white wines from some of California’s finest estates. And not a palm tree in sight.
A Chopstick Challenge
We started where all good Asian meals do – edamame beans. Drizzled in a creamy satay sauce, served alongside tender wagyu salami. A challenge for the chopsticks, but a challenge worth accomplishing. This was washed down with an Orin Swift, Blank Stare, Sauvignon Blanc, light enough not to overpower, but sharp enough to wake my wine buds up.
Being somewhat of an amateur (read: total newbie) wine taster, the addition of tasting notes was much welcomed – hosted by Masterchef semi-finalist Jamie Patterson. His first tip-off? The Sauvignon’s bottle, featuring a graphic said to be inspired by a portrait of Rihanna (of umbrella-ella-ella fame). In other words: my kind of wine.
Course two was salad – Asian pears and creamy avocado, plus sea bream sashimi with crispy potatoes and a delightfully crisp Pinot Gris. Then the big guns came out, namely the tuna temaco – an Asian twist on a taco, filled with tender raw tuna and crunchy fresh vegetables. Plus a baby’s bottle of sriracha mayo to squeeze over. Japanifornian. I was starting to get it.
The voyage of fast food/fusion hybrids moved on with Japan’s answer to KFC. Chicken karaage (read: fried chicken) and lemon salt. Although not the most obvious pairing, I’m now unsure I could ever consume fried chicken again without a side of punchy Edna Valley Chardonnay. (Majestic £13.99).
A Chardonnay Finalé
A crumbed rosu-katsu (pork cutlets) on squishy, soft rice was enjoyed with the night’s third(!) and final Frei Brothers Chardonnay. (Waitrose £17.99) A delightful, yet slightly hazy fifth course (and glass).
And for the grand finale? Kakigori, a shaved ice dessert flavoured with strawberry and cookie syrups and sweeteners, served with a Hello Kitty shaped jelly-filled lolly. And yes, even jelly is better with a cold glass of McMurray Estate Vineyards Pinot Gris (Great Western Wine £17.95).
Well there we have it. California and Japan – quite possibly the iconic duo of the year (sorry Meghan). Just like the carefully considered wine pairings, Sosharu’s execution of this partnership was faultless. From the teeny sriracha mayo to the Chardonnay and chicken (and the heated loo seats too) – everything about Sosharu screams ‘attention to detail’.
Bravo, Atherton. You’ve done it again. I’ll take a one-way ticket to Japanifornia, please – and I urge you all to come too.