RAISING THE SAKE BAR
As a complement to food, sake is much more versatile than its culturally rich heritage would have you believe. While it’s easy to assume it pairs best with Japanese cuisine – as it often effortlessly does – the folks at Kabuke aren’t afraid to add their own twist.
The 50-seater sake gastrobar was conceived by a group of friends who share a passion for kabuki and sake, hence the portmanteau and the enormous hand-painted fans that divide the space. Sake sommelier Keiji Heng has been roped in to curate a diverse selection of Japan’s famous rice wine sourced from over 20 prefectures, and you can build your own flight of three or let Heng guide your palate. The offerings will change every few months to keep things exciting.
But Kabuke’s food demands equal attention, and deserves it. While the dishes are certainly inspired by traditional Japanese dishes, chef Rio Neo (formerly from Fat Cow and Kinki) has gleefully deviated from the formula with creations like Baby Corn, which has the blanched vegetables doused in a blend of sriracha mayonnaise, furikake and pork floss, as well as the loaded Takoyaki Fries. We see the Kabuke Wagyu Beef Bowl becoming a lunch crowd favourite as the seared beef slices get an aromatic lift with truffle soya sauce. Those who want a lighter, more unusual pairing can opt for the Cheese Platter. Yes, it works.
Sake, like rice, goes well with anything that bursts with umami, which is why you’ll find that every item on the food menu comes with a recommended sake pairing. Some things may be enjoyed on their own but here, glass and plate were meant to journey together. Bring company.
200A Telok Ayer Street.
A STAR IS BORN
In the relatively muted landscape of the French wine world, one particular region continues its meteoric rise through opinion charts: Languedoc-Roussillon. Instrumental to banishing the area’s reputation for churning out quantity plonk over quality wine is the young Mas de Daumas Gassac estate, which is responsible for blends that have had top critics liken the winemakers to Lafite and Latour. It’s easy to agree with that assessment – The Peak’s tastings reveal memorable, sunny characters and well-thought interplay among the long list of varietals that make every Daumas Gassac. Invest in the bottles before the mainstream catches on – the brand is at the tipping point between explosive popularity and pre-hype pricing. Available through www.thevintageclub.sg.
(RELATED: Should you drink fine wine with hawker food?)
Collector alert: The Macallan has just released a rarity in the small-batch 40-year-old sherry oak single malt. Hand-picked casks were seasoned for 18 months with Oloroso sherry, then carted off to Scotland and filled with The Macallan. The subsequent decades of maturation have imparted a cinnamon-heavy aroma to an already potent dram. Only 465 bottles are available worldwide for this particular release.
LIVING THE AMERICAN DRAM
Aficionados of whiskey – yes, with an “e” – now have a place to truly call home in Singapore. The Regent’s well-regarded Manhattan Bar is recruiting adventurous types who can’t get enough of rye, bourbon and the like for its American Whiskey Embassy programme. Essentially a members’ club-slash-excuse to knock back a few drams while ensconced in the swanky space reminiscent of 19th-century New York, the programme leverages on an existing library of over 150 carefully sourced labels that range from rare collectibles to experimental and progressive blends. Exclusive masterclasses and visits by industry folk are frequently organised as well. Intrigued? Dial 6725-3377 for enquiries.
(RELATED: Why Irish whiskey is on the rise)