Last year, wine beat out sake in Mura’s Wine vs. Sake Dinner. The second round took place at 6:30 p.m. on April 4 at the Japanese concept located at North Hills in Raleigh, North Carolina, with Sake taking the victory this time around. The toast was followed by an all-inclusive nine-course dinner starting at 7 p.m. An Izakaya theme—small tapas style plates—was incorporated at the restaurant, which is part of Eschelon Experiences’ portfolio of Cameron Bar and Grill, Faire, Basan, and Edwards Mill Bar & Grill.
“What a blast and what a challenge,” says Sara Guterbock, sommelier, wine & sake educator, Mutual Distributing.“What I think is amazing is how complex each dish was, and how difficult it proved to pair beverages of any kind with such delicate, layered, intricate dishes. Every preparation was executed so beautifully, and Michael and I had to really work hard to imagine every flavor and decide which wines and sakes would be best for matching.”
The first course was an Amuse Bouce—crab crisp, ohitashi spinach and no beverage pairings. Drinks joined in the second course—Hiramasa Tataki, which was presented as seared amberjack, yuzu, truffle oil, chives, garlic chips, and black salt. Bunraku Nihonjin Square and Mondavi Fume Blanc Napa squared off.
“Wine vs. Sake round two was a lot of fun,” says Matt Lowery, the head chef at Mura. “It can be a challenge to come up with new dishes but that’s where it gets exciting. When we do these special dinners it is a great way to try new things and experiment with new ingredients. That’s one reason for the nine courses this time I had a lot of different things I wanted to try. Wine vs. Sake is a cool concept it gives us a chance to showcase how well sake can be paired with food just like wine. Talking with all the guest that night everyone seemed to really enjoy the night.”
The third course was labeled Botan Nigiri. Batan shrimp nigiri was plated with caviar and grated wasabi root. Maboroshi Junmai Ginjo and Ruffino Lumina Pinot Grigio made up the beverage battle.
The next course—Abalone—featured grilled abalone, garlic butter, and parsley. Sho Chiku Bai Rei Ginjo Draft and Simi Chardonnay Sonoma accompanied.
“Round two was killer,” adds Jason Clifford, the restaurant’s bar manager. “Even better than the first. All the food and wine/sake pairings were excellent. I love that sake won this round as wine won the first. I see round No. 3 in future. Everyone had a great time and got to purchase all the amazing products they desired at a special discounted rate.”
The meal continued with a Pallet Cleanser in the form of braised pineapple sorbet. Pork Belly, with sake braised crispy pork belly, caramelized Asian pear, charred scallion, and tamari jus followed. Watari Bune 55 Junmai Ginjo and Wild Horse Pinot Noir CC faced off.
The seventh course was a Golden Toro Tartar—spicy toro, gold flakes, taro chips. Born Gold Junmai Daiginjo and Primal Roots Red Blend were served.”
“I've always enjoyed the events that occur at Mura and Eschelon overall,” says Wol Kim, the head sushi chef. “With every event, I always enjoy myself creating new dishes and plates for people to try and get satisfaction from people who enjoys eating them. In the future, I will try to come up with innovative and creative foods to let people try.”
Things continued with Lamb Chops, presented with garlic, ginger charred lamb chop, grilled rice, edamame truffle puree, wasabi dijonaise, and crispy shiitake. Shichi Hon Yari Junmai and Clos Du Bois Marlstone comprised the final beverage showdown of the night.
Dessert was served as a Yuzu Cheescake with sesame tuile, candied blueberries, and salted caramel.
“The Sake vs. Wine event at Mura Monday night was a rousing and unqualified success,” recalls Michael Highsmith, field sales manager, Constellation Brands. “Guests were lively and engaged and while they were there to learn and experience, they all had big fun throughout the evening. I loved the concept as it thinks outside the box and encourages participation with the guests. Throw in a little competition and it makes it all the more enjoyable. … The food pairings were spot on and the presentation was flawless. I know how challenging this is with the complexity of the dishes, but each pairing were the perfect complement. Mura’s staff was unobtrusive yet worked hard at controlling the flow and were always there for what was needed.”