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How Different Types Of Sake Affect The Umami Taste In Fish

Sake has to be one of the most versatile alcoholic beverages in the world. With all of the different types and flavors available, the options in your grasp when it comes to picking a sake are almost endless. 

One thing they all have in common, however, is their synergy with seafood when it comes to umami. Research has shown that sake is much better at enhancing the sensation of umami in our mouths when compared to other alcoholic beverages like white wine.

This is because sake contains an umami compound called glutamic acid that can interact with the umami compound in seafood, called inosinic acid. The two react on our taste buds to boost the effects of umami, and sake plays a large part in supplying the glutamic acid for that burst of flavor. 

Foodbeast and Instagrammer George LaBoda @atlasandmason got to try this out firsthand while visiting Hermanito, a restaurant in Los Angeles, California. There, he met up with sake sommelier Bryan West to sample three different sakes with Hermanito’s Hamachi and Uni Agua Chili Sunomo. Each of the sakes had different properties that affected LaBoda’s perception of umami. 

jfoodo hyaku moku edited

One of the properties discussed was the ability to blend sakes, which was the case for the bottle of Hyaku Moku Alt. 3 from Kiku-Masamune Sake Brewing they started with. This blend of Junmai Daiginjo and Junmai Ginjo has a collection of fruity aromas to it. LaBoda also noted that the sake and seafood together opened up flavors he couldn’t perceive with just the dish on its own.

Another property of sake the pair dove into dealt with the polishing of rice. A higher degree of rice polishing doesn’t necessarily translate to a higher quality of sake. Instead, it refers to the amount of protein left, which means that something less polished has more protein available to create a unique range of umami flavors.

In comparing the final two sakes, a Tokugetsu Junmai Daiginjo from ASAHI-SHUZO SAKE BREWING and a Shirakabegura Tokubetsu Junmai from Shirakabegura Brewery, that difference was made clear. The Asahi-Shuzo sake was a lot more balanced, and even provided a cooling effect, lending itself to the fish. On the other hand, the full, rounded, and savory flavors of the Shirakabegura sake lent to the vegetables, creating unique experiences for both sakes from the same dish. 

None of the above necessarily has to be the “ideal” or “correct” pairing for a dish. If anything, the different qualities of the sakes show that each can provide a unique experience to the meal. However, the one commonality they do have is that synergy when it comes to umami. 

Hermanito’s Hamachi and Uni Agua Chili Sunomo will be available, with the Hyaku Moku Alt. 3 sake to pair with, through the month of December as part of the Unlock Your Palate campaign by JFOODO

You can learn more about the relationship between sake and seafood, as well as other restaurants featuring it, through JFOODO’s website, or by following the hashtags #UnlockYourPalate and #SeafoodAndSake. 

Created in partnership with JFOODO.

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Culture Fruits & Vegetables Health Nightlife Plant-Based Restaurants

This Creative Eight Course Plant-Based Meal Is Attracting Vegans and Non-Vegans Alike

As a vegan, I know about all the new products, restaurants and Netflix documentaries. I have vegan friends and share some of the same vegan views. At times, in this vegan bubble of mine, I even begin to believe everyone’s becoming vegan. A simple conversation with a relative quickly dispels that notion. The reality is that within the United States, vegans only make up an estimated 3% of the entire population. That’s like comparing an edamame, to an, I don’t know, elephant. 

A recent study reveals the silver lining, as veganism has increased around 300% in the last 15 years. That’s an incredible explosion within a short space of time. You can credit the internet with this “mushroom” cloud of a diet shift. Whereas the initial conversation siloed around animal rights, over the years it’s expanded to include climate change and personal health and wellness. More specifically, two important factors for any new way of approaching things; advances in technology and just plain ol’ hands-on human ingenuity. 

One person forging her own brand of human ingenuity is Executive Chef Mimi Williams of Counterpart Vegan in Echo Park, California. Using 100% market fresh ingredients and plant-based processes, she creates familiar staples that are nearly indistinguishable from their original meat-based iterations. This is in stark contrast to many vegan spots that feature alternative protein-heavy menus, which are great advances as well, yet different. 

Raised in a small town in the Pacific Northwest, Williams was one of only a handful of Black families in the community. She shared a household with her parents and six brothers of Sicilian/Creole descent. Although she didn’t resemble most of her neighbors, Williams had a strong family support system. One could say she grew up with a traditional family in a non-traditional setting.

While her mother seemingly loved cooking and wanted Williams to learn, she recalls initially being resistant, feeling forced into doing a thing based on her gender expectations. Learning how to cook felt more like work than fun. Noticing that, her father encouraged her to cook things that interested her. That encouragement was the magic needed to open the floodgates of the world of food.

Williams’ was pushed to explore alternative diets during a period in which her father experienced health complications. With his doctor citing less meat consumption as a course of action, her family subsequently became early adopters of a mostly plant-based diet. By this time, Williams had become the de facto cook for her family, with her siblings frequently requesting her food.

At first, it took awhile to adjust to a mostly plant-based lifestyle, but after witnessing her father’s health improve firsthand, she was convinced the diet change was the right decision. These experiences helped Williams develop a perspective on food many Black people don’t have. She discovered veganism some years later during pregnancy after realizing she could no longer consume meat.

Honing her craft at restaurants across America, Williams’ still carries the same spirit of fearlessness and creativity her father encouraged as the current Executive Chef of Counterpart Vegan. Joining the team in 2019, she set about revitalizing Counterpart’s array of offerings. She credits a period of stagnant creativity as the stimuli behind her latest eight course tasting menu.

Consisting of familiar foods inspired by her upbringing, the flavors feel authentic. Some of the offerings include heirloom tomato carpaccio with a tasty and tangy vegan feta, pappardelle made from beets, seasoned squash ravioli and an unforgettable tiramisu as the finale. Williams’ new menu is a fine dining experience vegans and non-vegans alike can enjoy. She says she wants people to walk away feeling a sense of hope, and that when they share, “I didn’t know you could do that with this type of food,” that’s how she knows she’s on the right track.

If you’re looking for some momentary respite from quarantine, while supporting small businesses during the pause of outdoor dining, Chef Mimi will be offering a condensed version of the tasting menu as take-out for two. The dinner package will include a salad, appetizer, pasta, dessert, and likely, two non-alcoholic drinks.

There will be 25 of these dinner plates available to all guests and can be pre-ordered on Tock. The dinner package will be available every Friday and Saturday for pick-up, from 6PM-8PM.

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#foodbeast Alcohol Culture FOODBEAST Restaurants SPONSORED

Sake Is The Key To A Tastier Lobster Experience

Synergy is a buzzword that’s used to illustrate vividly the beautiful result of two plus parties or substances working together to achieve something more significant than the sum of their separate effects. Applying the concept to food yields scintillating possibilities, like flavor profiles being enhanced to create more dynamic and memorable dining experiences.

In one useful and powerful example, the synergy between the lauded taste of umami and sake produces a boosted dining encounter. “Umami is created by the meeting of glutamic acid — which is found in sake; you also find it in a lot of fermented food — and inosinic acid, which is found in meat and seafood like lobsters and oysters,” explains sake sommelier Bryan Patrick West. He continues, “When you get a meeting of the sake and flavors in the lobster pot pie, the union will boost the umami levels overall in your tasting experience.”

West guides Foodbeast Reach Guinto through this umami event like the wise sake sherpa he is, teaching him how to smartly pair an exquisite Lobster Pot Pie from Raw Bar by Slapfish in Huntington Beach, CA with three different sakes.

The results vary with each type of sake when eaten with the Lobster Pot Pie, yet the common thread through all three is the heightened taste of umami flavor from the synergy between the seafood and sake. Let’s take a look at the specifics:

Tamano Hikari Junmai Ginjo Yamahai Classic

“Fuller in body, nice and rich, earthy” is how West described this sake. He adds that beyond a fitting pairing to the seafood and root vegetables in the chowder, it is also bold enough to stand up to fried foods like the oyster crowning the pot pie.

Nihon Sakari Daiginjo 

“I personally think that the umami synergy between the fried oyster and this sake in particular will go really, really well,” highlighted West. Historically one of the more prominent producers of premium sake in Japan.

Amabuki Junmai Ginjo “Himawari”

The unique thing about this sake is that the brewery uses yeasts that are derived from flowers. Moreover, it’s an unpasteurized sake, literally giving it a blooming flavor profile that enhances the seafood’s flavor.

“The way I like to put it, [sake] isn’t the star of the show. It’s a really, really good supporting actor creating this savory, umami, mouthwatering note that leaves you wanting more,” illustrates West. 

Another argument can be made in support of how the umami flavor in seafood is enhanced when paired with sake via a recent experiment conducted by AISSY, Inc., a company that provides data and consulting related to the sensation of taste. The experiment revealed that sake, which contains an abundance of umami, increased the umami score no matter the food it was combined with, with the pairing of seafood like grilled lobster achieving the highest increase in umami.

With this synergy between sake and seafood making food taste better, it unlocks so many flavor possibilities through the pairing of them – whether it be through boosting some Lobster Pot Pie with Crispy Oysters as part of the Unlock Your Palate Campaign or any other seafood dish worth the extra push to titillate your palate. 

To learn more about the incredible umami synergy, click here

Created in partnership with JFOODO.

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Culture Feel Good Restaurants

How A Movement To Support San Gabriel Valley Restaurants Became A Major Food Event

The restaurant industry has been one of the hardest hit since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 100,000 dining spots have closed nationwide, with a harsh winter leading many to expect that number to only go up over time.

That being said, group efforts have come about to help get restaurants in some areas the support they need. Of course, stimulus funding and federal/state aid is the optimal solution, but for those that choose to stay open, getting the word out is crucial to making enough money to keep selling food.

In Southern California’s San Gabriel Valley, one can attribute a movement called “SGV Eats” as one of the primary reasons the restaurant industry is able to keep going. Originally a group created by friends Alan An, Megan Lam, and Brian Ngoy, their movement has now exploded into over 32,000 people on Facebook, spreading the word on restaurants all over the region.

Photos courtesy of SGV Eats and Brian Nittayo

“When we saw that restaurants were struggling during the pandemic, it ignited something in us to help out,” An told Foodbeast. He, Lam, and Ngoy together started the original group, called “SGV Restaurants Open During COVID-19” at first, as a way to bring light to those restaurants looking to get help.

Lam told Foodbeast that the group started as just the three of them telling their friends, which led to a cascading influx of invitations that saw the group grow to the size it is now. All of the members are locals and restaurateurs who promote and provide support to eateries beyond just their own or their favorites. It’s what Ngoy described as a “phenomenal response” that helped elevate the entire restaurant scene and keep it afloat.

Thanks to their efforts, restaurants who were maybe seeing a few orders a day would sell out close to opening, helping keep many restaurant owners going through the pandemic.

It’s also allowed the innovative food scene in the San Gabriel Valley to flourish. For those not in the know, San Gabriel Valley is an incredibly diverse community: over 44% of the population is Latino and a quarter of residents are of some sort of Asian descent, according to data from the Los Angeles Times.

Photo courtesy of SGV Eats and Brian Nittayo

The SGV is known as a hub for many Asian restaurants, but An, Lam, and Ngoy also surprised even themselves by discovering a large, diverse set of unique restaurants through all of the owners and customers that shared photos and stories of the food. From Filipino food in West Covina to the storied seafood banquet restaurants of San Gabriel, there’s a lot of history and flavor from many parts of the world that reside in the SGV.

You’ll also find a lot of unique restaurants offering creative takes on dishes, often inspired by the meshing of cultures that happens in this region. Mexican and Asian-inspired pizzas, birria loaded burgers, and even Sichuan peppercorn-infused queso are just some examples of the unique dishes the region has to offer.

Photo courtesy of SGV Eats

The team behind SGV Eats is making sure that these restaurants continue to get support for the unique creations they’re making. Outside of the regular daily support the group offers, SGV Eats is also launching a dining event that will spread across the entire valley. Called Eat SGV Week, it features nearly two dozen restaurants that are a part of the group, all of which are providing unique specials and offers to encourage people to order food.

Viral pizza spot Rose City Pizza, for example, is creating a Korean Popcorn Chicken pizza, a spin-off of one of their more recent mouthwatering menu creations. Other options from headliners include a combo meat plate from 38 Degrees Alehouse, a combo pack of obanyaki (stuffed Japanese pancakes) and ube horchata from Mr. Obanyaki, and a meal platter from Hummus Labs, arguably one of the most popular restaurants in the SGV to date.

The Eat SGV Week runs from December 7th to 13th, although you can preorder for pickup on any of those days already on their website.

Photo courtesy of SGV Eats

Going from support group to organizing a dining event that brings together multiple restaurants feels like a large leap. For the SGV Eats team, though, it was just another way to bring assistance and unite the local dining community to help keep it thriving.

Beyond just the Eat SGV week, SGV Eats hopes to find more ways to encourage the community and get folks to discover and explore more local restaurants.

As a bullhorn for one of the more innovative dining regions in the country, they’re definitely a group anybody should join, follow, and be a part of to learn about some of the most creative culinary eats the San Gabriel Valley has to offer.

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Alcohol Brand Restaurants Video

3 Sakes To Give Your Oysters An Umami Flavor Boost

When thinking of what drinks to pair with seafood, like oysters, sake is something you should keep at the top of your mind. The natural umami present within sake and oysters don’t just pair with each other: they mesh and enhance each other, meaning you get more umami from the two combined than either individually.

This is because sake and seafood contain different types of umami compounds. Umami compounds are substances found naturally in food that trigger tastebuds to register the savory taste umami has in our brains. Sake has a compound called glutamic acid, while oysters contain another called inosinic acid. When combined, they are shown to have a synergistic effect that enhances umami.

A recent joint study between JFOODO and Japanese company AISSY looked at these pairings by quantifying umami as an “umami score” across multiple types of beverages. White wine is a typical beverage to pair with seafood, but based on these umami scores, sake results in a larger increase in umami. According to a press release, when paired with raw oysters, white wine only increased the umami score by 0.13 points, while pairing the oysters with sake increased the umami score by 0.41 points. This signifies a larger enhancement of umami in our mouths when we drink sake with seafood over white wine.

Foodbeast and food Instagrammer @ashyi recently got to experience this new type of pairing style firsthand. She met up with sake sommelier Bryan West at Shuck Oyster Bar in Costa Mesa, California to try some different sakes meant to pair perfectly with oysters.

The three sakes West recommended are as follows:

Born:Gold Junmai Daiginjo, Katoukichibee Shouten

This gold tinted sake is cold-aged for about a year, lending to some light and sweet undertones that cut through the briny, salty flavors oysters contain while still packing a savory punch. 

Suigei Junmai Ginjo Koiku No. 54, Suigei Brewing

Suigei Brewing’s Koiku No. 54 is made with Gin-no Yume rice, which is locally produced in the same region the brewery is located in. It’s a semi-dry, light sake with citrusy notes, yet still retains a strong umami flavor that pairs with and enhances an oyster’s taste.

Mutsu Hassen ISARIBI Special Junmai, Hachinohe Shuzo

“Isaribi” is the name given to a fire meant to lure fish at night. It’s a fitting name for this rich, dry sake, which was crafted to pair well with all types of seafood, including oysters.

Each of the above sakes has unique flavor profiles and qualities, but all contain that glutamic acid that provides the umami synergy with oysters. Together, that creates a mouthwatering flavor combo that you can’t get with just either alone.

A unique yet optimal way to combine the two umami sensations is through something called a “sake drop,” where some of the sake paired with a meal is spooned on top of the oyster. It’s then all eaten at once to enjoy the enhanced umami synergy.

You can try doing a sake drop at Shuck Oyster Bar, who is serving a special oyster dish alongside the Isaribi sake as part of the Unlock Your Palate campaign by JFOODO. It will be served alongside Oysters on the half shell topped with caviar, micro greens, yuzu spritz, and a dash of Fresno chili sauce. This pairing will be available at Shuck starting December 1st, and may end when the stock of sake runs out. Otherwise, it will run through the entire month.

To learn more about the sakes and how they go with oysters, check out the full video at the top of this story. You can also learn more about the pairing, and other restaurants featuring it, through JFOODO’s website, or by following the hashtags #UnlockYourPalate and #SeafoodAndSake.

Created in partnership with JFOODO

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Restaurants

Popcorn Chicken PIZZA: The Boba House Snack Of Our Dreams

There have been many innovative pizzas from LA-based Rose City Pizza in the past few years, but their latest creation may very well be my favorite yet. 

The viral pizzeria behind the Birria, Elote, and Al Pastor Pizza has now added a Popcorn Chicken Pizza to the menu and its gangbusters. 

Inspired by the immensely popular snack found at Taiwanese boba shops, the new Popcorn Chicken Pizza takes breaded chicken thigh pieces and fries them along with Thai basil. For the pizza base, a simple rainfall of mozzarella cheese is met with a dash of five-spice. Once the chicken joins the pie, it’s drizzled with a unique Thai Basil aioli made in house and topped with the crispy fried basil leaves. 

Photo courtesy of @pham_bot

Our own Constantine Spyrou recently tried it and had this to say about the new addition: 

“It was bomb,” young Spyrou told us. “The chili oil and the Thai basil aioli combine to give it some punchy flavor. The five-spice adds a nice undertone to everything.” 

He also added this was one of the best things he’d eaten in 2020 and a great take on popcorn chicken in pizza form.

High praise, but honestly, I agree 100 percent. 

You can find the Popcorn Chicken Pizza now on the Rose City Pizza menu. Other notable pies include the ever-viral Birria Pizza, Al Pastor Pizza, Elote Pizza, and Manila Sunrise Filipino Breakfast Pizza. 

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Adventures Art Restaurants Video

Harlem’s ‘The Edge’ Combines British And Jamaican Dishes With Renaissance Legacy

In Harlem, New York, the building located at 580 St. Nicholas Avenue carries a unique piece of Harlem Renaissance history. Librarian Regina Anderson Andrews, a resident there, would host rooftop and apartment gatherings where literary juggernauts like Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, and W.E.B. DuBois would show up to and recite their works.

While the Harlem Renaissance has come and gone, the building has still remained a gathering place, thanks to The Edge, a restaurant located on the bottom floor that pays respect to that legacy.

Owned by sisters Juliet and Justine Masters, you can find homages to the legends that roamed the building throughout the restaurant, including a regal portrait of Langston Hughes and a collection of books folks can read while sipping on coffee and enjoying their meals.

The food here, by the way, is a unique story of its own, calling to the childhoods of the two owners. Justine and Juliet are Harlem locals, but have parents from Jamaica and Britain, and grew up eating dishes from both countries.

That has led to some creative and inspirational dishes on their menu, including a luxuriously creamy Jerk Chicken Alfredo, and coconut-crusted fish used for the British staple fish and chips. Ackee and saltfish, a national dish of Jamaica, even has a home here in tasty taco form. One also shouldn’t leave without a glass of homemade sorrel, which Juliet and Justine’s father makes on a regular basis.

With such a unique building history and innovative and tantalizing dishes, The Edge is a restaurant chock full of stories that has made it locals’ favorite.

To learn more about The Edge, check out the full video at the top of this story. The restaurant is currently offering outdoor dining, takeout, and delivery, as well as some limited indoor service.

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Fast Food Restaurants

Red Lobster Is Making GIANT Holiday Seafood Trays

Photo courtesy of Red Lobster

Red Lobster is making a splash into the holiday platter game by making their own version of loaded seafood trays.

The seafood chain has two different platters you can order on their website. One of them is a Chilled Seafood Holiday Platter, with 18 cocktail shrimp, 8 split Maine Lobster tails, and a half pound of jumbo lump crab meat tossed in a lemon vinaigrette. They’re all served with cocktail sauce for dipping, although we also see some pretty epic sandwiches or other feasts that could be made using this seafood smorgasbord.

Photo courtesy of Red Lobster

If fried seafood is more your thing, there’s also a Shrimp Lover’s Holiday Platter featuring three kinds of fried shrimp. Parrot Isle Jumbo Coconut Shrimp, Walt’s Favorite Shrimp, and Crispy Shrimp come together with cocktail sauce, Dragon sauce, and a piña colada sauce on this tray. Altogether, there’s 4 dozen fried shrimp on this massive offering.

For those looking to splash out a little more cash and impress, the Chilled Seafood Holiday Platter is the more expensive of the two (since there’s 8 lobster tails on it). Prices will vary locally, but in Southern California, the tray costs $71. The fried shrimp variety comes in at $32 in the same region.

Both are now available to order on Red Lobster’s website.