Thursday 18 October 2018

Food and wine tasting with a difference // Sake & Beyond

The other night I was invited to the launch of Sakenoteca by Sake & Beyond in London's Soho in the basement of top Italian Soho restaurant Vasco & Piero’s Pavilion here. Sakenoteca (a blend of 'sake' and 'enoteca') is the first of many sake concept-bars and experiences being brought to the UK by Sake & Beyond. You may also see Sake & Beyond listed as Sake & Beyond Enoteca - 'enoteca' being an Italian word used to describe a local or regional wine shop in Italy where customers have the chance to try different wines. And that's exactly what we got up to the other night!

                                                            Photography my own (please credit me if used)

Photo credit: Fleur Challis photography

For those who haven't tried sake before, sake is a Japanese rice wine which goes through a different brewing process to wines you may be more familiar with, whereby rice is fermented and the starches from which are converted into sugar. Usually paired with Asian dishes, Sake & Beyond aims to re-define sake as you know it, and on this occasion instead paired it with Italian tapas style dishes. A concept that may bamboozle sake connoisseurs, but seeing as I'd never tried sake before, I didn't go in there with any preconceptions. This is just the beginning for founders Tokubee Masuda and Takeshi Sekiya who plan to use sake within a wide range of cuisines.

Photography my own (please credit me if used)

Food that night was in the form of Italian tapas which worked for me as I love small sharing places - it means you can try a bit of everything! I love classic Italian flavours which center on just three or four fresh ingredients - simple but effective! The night ended on Italian tiramisu with a difference which contained - you've guessed it! - sake.

Photography my own (please credit me if used)

The venue itself was homely and welcoming - it was not in any shape or form pretentious or overly formal. Although I wore a nice dress for the launch, I'd be more than comfortable dressing more casually on future visits. Sake & Beyond has a fully fledged events programme in the works, including cookery classes and direct experiences with a sake sommelier.

                                                                   Photo credit: Fleur Challis photography

But the big question: did Italian cuisine work with Japanese alcohol? To be honest, I thought the sake lent itself better to sour flavours like blood orange and grapefruit in the cocktails than with some of the savory dishes. Although saying that, I was at a slight disadvantage as lots of the food came around on trays and got snapped up by other people before it got to me (I had more sake than food if I'm entirely honest!). But it was a fun experience and one I recommend if you would like a wine tasting experience with a difference!

Vasco & Piero
15 Poland street,

Nearest station: Oxford Circus (just a 5 min walk away!)


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