I had the privilege of sampling five sakés at the SakéOne Sakery in Forest Grove, Oregon. SakéOne is the only sakéry owned and operated in the United States. Why Oregon? The east side of the Oregon Cascades has the ideal water source for its purity-water being one of saké’s most critical ingredients.
The friendly and informative tasting room staff guided us through a flight of premium sakés for $3.00. You could also relax with a glass on the deck or in the garden, or purchase hand-select items from their collection of saké accessories. Since it’s just a short drive from our home in Portland, Oregon, and on the way to the Oregon wine country, we had been tempted to stop by several times. Finally, we couldn’t resist any longer. The five sakés we tasted were the Silver, Diamond, Daiginjo, G Joy, and the Coconut Lemongrass.
Each SakéOne label has recommended food pairings for each saké and I came out of this tasting noting that food pairing, to me, is crucial to the enjoyment of saké. With the right pairing, saké is simply as fabulous as pairing a Pinto Noir with Cedar Plank Salmon.
Bolstered by our new experience and feeling adventurous, we brought home small bottles of the Pearl, the G Joy, and the Coconut Lemongrass. We also purchased two chocolate bars to see how well they paired with the Coconut Lemongrass.
Inspired by our saké tastings and anxious to try out our new knowledge by pairing some saké with lunch as we were absolutely starving by this time, we asked for a restaurant recommendation. We were referred to Le Hana (http://www.lehana.com/), a Japanese restaurant not too far from our home.
At Le Hana, I ordered the SakéOne Sampler to pair with my Beef Bento Bowl of Ykiniku Beef with mixed green salad, 4 piece California Roll & steamed rice. The SakéOne Sampler included 3 sakés: the Pearl, the Daiginjo and the G Joy. Each saké paired impeccably with my lunch bowl. The salad hinted at spicy flavors of Thai and paired extremely well with the Pearl. The California roll was a great match with the Daiginjo and my favorite-the G Joy-paired amazingly well with the beef. It was like having a steak and a good martini. My husband had the Pork Katsu Don lunch entree paired with a Karatamva-Dokuri saké .
We wrapped up our delicious meal with a dessert of Mochi Ice Cream with Mango & Green Tea ice cream wrapped with Japanese rice cake and Japanese tea.
Later that evening we were curious how the chocolate bar paired with the Coconut Lemongrass saké so we had a little bedtime dessert and I must say it was a fabulous pairing. To me, the secret to saké is to pair it with the right food. The good news is restaurants are quite willing to help you select the right saké to go with your food, so don’t hesitate to talk to your server about your preferences and ask for their recommendations.