Our exclusive interviews with ROCOCO partner restaurants, chefs and sommeliers offer insights into their cuisine and passions in their own words.
01｜Nishiazabu TakuEdomae Sushi (Nishiazabu)
The Pioneer of Pairing Wine with Edomae Sushi
Since opening in 2005, Nishiazabu Taku has consistently conducted research to perfect its famous Edomae sushi. Its owner, Mayumi Nagata, is one of the rare female restaurant owners in Japan’s fine dining industry. She is also a certified sommelier and wine collector. Despite the fact that she did not enjoy drinking alcohol, through research done with MBA graduates she developed an “Edomae sushi x wine” concept that had never been done before in Japan. At that time, the world of Edomae sushi was quite conservative, and the idea of full wine pairings with traditionally prepared sushi was a novel concept. Later, while developing the menu for Taku, Ms. Nagata not only focused on incorporating wine pairings with nigiri, but also created the current style of enjoying nigiri and small plates with seasonal vegetables. This variety of dishes can more easily accommodate the natural flow from white wine to red wine throughout a dinner. The progressive approach to such traditional cuisine allowed Nishiazabu Taku to become popular with women as well as with guests from overseas. "When we first opened, I was the sommelier myself," says Owner Mayumi Nagata. "I feel like I was able to establish an original style little by little, and to provide an intimate service that feels like treating a dear friend." This innovative approach to edomae sushi has rewarded Taku with a Michelin star for many consecutive years.
We Created a Pairing Menu that Doesn’t Interfere with the Delicate Taste of Sushi
The original concept of Nishiazabu Taku was “Edomae sushi x wine”, which caused word to spread about the sushi restaurant that had a resident sommelier. In Japan it was common to open a sushi course with beer. But when Ms. Nagata tried this the the flavor of hops lingered on her tongue throughout her course and interfered with the delicate flavors of dishes. Ms. Nagata was very passionate about wine, and beer was therefore not a priority at her restaurant. This negative impression completely changed when she discovered ROCOCO.
ROCOCO has an Aftertaste that is Not at All Bitter
When Ms. Nagata tasted ROCOCO for the first time, she thought, "Wow, fruity and very tasty. The aftertaste is refreshing and not at all bitter. This is actually quite good!" She was surprised by its delicate taste, a characteristic that she feels other beers do not possess. "Until then, our restaurant often paired nihonshu, champagne, and Burgundy wine with our dishes," says Ms. Nagata. "But, ROCOCO goes well with the delicate flavors of the white fish and appetizers we serve first. Their bottle has a fashionable pop art flair, which convinced me that other people like me who don't typically enjoy beer would also find it delicious." Since then, ROCOCO has been a main selection at her restaurant, alongside her wines.
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