• Matt Day

Corkscrew out: Yen - Sake with dessert?

Updated: Jan 14, 2019

The Restaurant

Yen is a fine-dining Japanese restaurant just off the Strand near Temple tube in the heart of London’s legal district. The restaurant is located within a new luxurious development with a mezzanine cocktail bar and triple over head height dining room with a sushi counter and open kitchen. Design is stark and a little sterile, but this place is well worth a detour for the attentive service and superlative cooking.

The List

Sachiko Koyama looks after the list which is strong on sake, she has also chosen a good selection of wines from notable producers to suit the cuisine. Markup on wine is standard, but sakes tend to be better value with lower markup. The cocktails are creative and of a very high standard.

The Food

Yen specialises in handmade Soba (buckwheat) noodles, prepared fresh before every service, served along sushi, sashimi, tempura, robata and other traditional Japanese dishes. Soba noodles are prepared daily in the main restaurant inside the Soba room by Maruno Hidenori and Katsuki Sakurai, who trained with the “Master of Soba” Mr Takahashi Kunihiro in Yamanashi, Japan. Akinori Yasuda is Head Sushi chef (previously Head Sushi Chef at Zuma for 6 years). The soba with hot duck broth is unmissable and the seaweed salad with fresh tofu is a unique way to start your meal.

The Pairing

Yuzu Cake/Tsukasabotan Yama Yuzu Shibori Sake £7

Citrus desserts are amongst the most difficult to pair with wine. Something like lemon tart or lemon meringue pie is very sweet, but the citrus element is extremely acidic and seems to cancel out the sweetness - which plays havoc when you put it against a sweet dessert wine. Also citrus flavours are very strong and will usually drown out the subtlety of most sweet wines. A solution can be a citrus infused cocktail or citrus liqueur such as limoncello. Here however we have a Yuzushu - basically a sake that is macerated with fresh yuzu a japanese citrus fruit which has a flavour somewhere between mandarin and grapefruit. Like all sakes it has a wonderful creamy character from the rice which works well with the creaminess of the dessert. The yuzu in the sake harmonises with the citrus element of the dessert and the subtle sweetness of the sake works against the sweetness of the meringue.

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