By Fergal Gleeson
Pairing wines with Asian cuisine is not obvious! There are so many different spices, sauces and flavours. Will they clash? Will they delight?
I’ve spoken to three leading Chefs of Asian inspired restaurants in Margaret River to get their take on how to make the perfect match.
Mikis Open Kitchen- Japanese Tempura Restaurant
“There are many elements that determine whether something tastes better;” says Japanese Chef Mikihito Nagai (known as Miki to the locals). A few of which are taste, aroma, texture and temperature.”
“Bigger flavours in the food often need wine with bigger favours; Beef and red wine for example. In comparison, sake is best complemented by delicate flavours. When eating with sake, the goal is to create harmony – enjoying fresh sashimi and drinking sake encourages this harmony.”
Mikis is licenced and apart from sake and wine pairings with his degustation menus, you can also BYO for $10. His favourite food and wine pairing is “lightly smoked seafood with my favourite Margaret River chardonnay!”
Attracted to the lifestyle and great surf, Miki moved to Margaret River in 2004 and achieved his dream of opening a restaurant. He has stayed because of the people. “A welcoming vibe with an open-minded community,” is how he puts it.
What does he miss most about Japan?
“Karaoke!” he jokes “No I miss my mum’s food the most!”
How does he compare ingredients available in Margaret River versus in Japan?
“There is a Japanese phrase: Chisan-Chishou which means; local production for local consumption,” Miki says. “The idea of using the products from the region you are in. This is a philosophy I live by so it’s difficult to compare with Japan.”
“This extends to my style of food too; Cooking the traditional Japanese way is best when the Japanese ingredients are used; I prefer doing it my own way with the local ingredients because I am here, not in Japan.”
“Many ingredients in Japan are grown in the high altitude of the mountains, very different to here. Here, I am surrounded by wonderful farmers like Jema; from Burnside Organic farm – a share farming concept. She is growing veggies at my request; this relationship would be very rare to come by In Japan.”
A new edition is “Miki’s Trust for Kid’s” which is styled to suit ages 5-10 years, offering an altered six-course degustation menu for little people to expand their repertoire.
They want Miki’s to be for everyone, including getting the kids to try out chopsticks. They’ll have to wait until they’re older for the sake pairings!
From Your Margaret River Region Magazine