Forget wine pairings, food columnist suggests trying sake

Food columnist Gail Johnson sits down with a sake expert to try some delicious sake and food pairings in anticipation of World Sake Day.

Food columnist Gail Johnson explores the growing trend of sake and food pairings in Vancouver

Sake makers from Japan, the United States and Canada will be serving up sake tastings at the Imperial for Vancouver Sake Fest, Sept. 28. (Lee Wagner)

The only thing that may be better than experiencing a multi-course meal at a nice restaurant is being able to enjoy wine pairings alongside it. 

Food and wine pairings are nothing new, but food columnist Gail Johnson explained to On the Coast's guest host Michelle Eliot that food and sake pairings are emerging on Vancouver's dining scene.

With World Sake Day coming up on October 1, Johnson sat down with pastry chef and certified educator of wine, spirits and sake Lara Victoria for a lesson in pairing the fermented rice wine with different dishes. 

"We had a vegan pizza from Virtuous Pie in Chinatown. It was called Stranger Wings. It has so-called blue cheese drizzle with fried shallots and spicy roasted cauliflower. It definitely had some kick. The sake didn't overpower the flavours but it also stood up to the them; it didn't get lost in the spices," explained Johnson.

"We also had samosas from Pabla's Himalaya Restaurant in Little India. Again, it was just beautiful match. In fact, Victoria says that sake and Indian food are best friends. Anything with bold flavours really works well with sake."

Victoria suggested an array of pairings with sake including fish, grilled panini with roasted peppers and cheese and desserts including chocolate.

For local restaurant sake pairings, Johnson pointed to Bauhaus, an upscale German-inspired restaurant in Vancouver. 

"[The sake] was paired with a beautiful tuna dish with kelp, mango, apple, and avocado cream," said Johnson.

Yuwa Japanese Cuisine is another restaurant where you can find sake and food pairings. Co-owner Iori Kataoka is a certified sake professional who previously opened ShuRaku, Vancouver's first sake bar, in 2008.

The second annual Vancouver Sake Fest is taking place on Thursday, Sept. 28 at the Imperial, where 21 sake makers from Japan, the United States and Canada will be providing tastings.

With files from On The Coast.