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Umami Mart Sake Pairing at Miss Ollie's

We continue to celebrate Women in the Industry by patronizing businesses around Oakland that are woman-owned. This month, we had our staff Sake Gumi tasting dinner at Sarah Kirnon's Miss Ollie's and paired the sake selections for the month with her various Carribbean-California dishes. And of course Kirnon's famous fried chicken! 

We've been coming to Miss Ollie's since 2013, when it opened a block away from Umami Mart. We are lucky to have them as our neighbors. The brightly interiors with splashes of pink on the walls and turquoise enamel plates make Miss Ollie's stand out in a sea of restaurants going for the industrial ambiance – in comparison, Kirnon's place feels inviting and playful. It is a reflection of Kirnon's past, quite literally, with vintage mirrors and photos of her grandmother, Miss Ollie, on the walls (she was raised by her grandmother in Barbados).

Umami Mart Sake Pairing at Miss Ollie's

The flavors (and prices) are inviting as well, which is why we keep coming back again and again. This month, in addition to featuring women in our industry, the sakes we featured for Sake Gumi in April are sakes from breweries owned by women. In general, all of the sakes were super rich, full bodied, and earthy and so we thought that they would pair well with the bold flavors of Kirnon's restaurant.

Umami Mart Sake Pairing at Miss Ollie's

Here is a round up of the pairings we enjoyed at our Sake Gumi pairing dinner at Miss Ollie's.

We started out with a summery, avocado, cucumber, tomato salad.

Umami Mart Sake Pairing at Miss Ollie'sSummer Salad paired with Kirin Koshi no Takumi Tokubetsu Junmai. Kirnon says that the tomatoes will be good this year.

The mild dressing and buttery avocado was a perfect complement to Kirin Koshi no Takumi by Kaetsu Brewery, a creamy, soft brew that has a strong aroma of sweet mushrooms and savory porridge. I would also recommend Bride of the Fox, made by the same brewery, which has a similar aroma of mushrooms and a creamy texture.

Umami Mart Sake Pairing at Miss Ollie'sKirin Koshi no Takumi Tokubetsu Junmai

OneTen Red Junmai is a karakuchi (extra-dry) sake by Rieko Hayashi's Hayashi Honten Brewery. Often times, karakuchi sakes pair quite well with salty bar snacks like nuts, potato chips, and rice crackers. And although this karakuchi does pair well with these types of foods, I was excited to find out that it also paired well with sweeter flavors.

Umami Mart Sake Pairing at Miss Ollie'sOneTen Red Junmai

For example, at home, I tried this sake with some dark chocolate and it was eye-opening. So I reached for this sake when the sweet Plantains with Garlic Oil arrived. The rich, buttery, sweetness colliding with garlic oil was an explosive combination with this smooth sake that has notes of fresh grass, minerals and nutty brown rice. An alternative sake fit for pairing with the plantains, I'd recommend the Kagatobi Super Dry, which is smoky yet dry.

Umami Mart Sake Pairing at Miss Ollie'sPlantains + Garlic Oil paired with OneTen Red Junmai

Kirnon's Fried Chicken is of legend (from her days as the chef of Front Porch in San Francisco), and I've had it enough times at to know that the wild, acidic and yogurty Yuho Kimoto Junmai would be a dream team. Made by Miho Fujita of Mioya Brewery, this sake takes you on a journey, from a juicy, tart beginning to hints of burnt sugar in the middle and, finally, a clean finish.

Umami Mart Sake Pairing at Miss Ollie'sYuho Kimoto Junmai

The Fried Chicken also takes you on a journey, from its crunchy crispy crust, to the aromatic herbs, and finally the tender juicy center that begs to be bit into. The sake and chicken are a mouth-watering combo that I highly recommend. If you aren't part of the club and won't get a bottle of Yuho Kimoto Junmai this month, we offer Souden Yamahai Tokubetsu Junmai which has tart, yogurty flavors similar to the Yuho.

Umami Mart Sake Pairing at Miss Ollie'sFried Chicken paired with Yuho Kimoto Junmai

Miss Ollie's always has special, rotating items on the menu depending on the season. In early May, when we went, we were lucky enough to try the fried fish fritters.

Umami Mart Sake Pairing at Miss Ollie'sFried Fish Fritters paired with OneTen Purple Yamahai Junmai Ginjo

Salty balls of fried fish is something that would appear in the bar of my dreams. This was real life. So was the OneTen Yamahai Junmai Ginjo that was waiting for a wedding ceremony with these fried fish. Although the hot sauce that accompanied these fish fritters was worth trying, I think that just a squeeze of lemon was enough to highlight these balls in all their glory. The OneTen Yamahai Junmai Ginjo is lively and acidic and tastes like a basketful of umami: tofu, jamon Iberico, and sesame seeds. The unrelenting wild umami in this sake stood up to the salty fish flavors in the fritters. I'm a fan of wild sakes with plenty of umami, that's why we have an alternative suggestions for pairing with these fried fritters – the Tsuzumi Junmai, which exhibits flavors of mushrooms, caramelized onions and bourbon.

Umami Mart Sake Pairing at Miss Ollie'sOneTen Purple Yamahai Junmai Ginjo

I am a firm believer that sake can pair well with all types of food, not just sushi and tempura. These sakes proved that sakes can be paired with foods halfway around the world. I loved that the sakes this month made by women had no sign of fruity, floral, sweet or delicate flavors. Instead, vegetal, earthy, meaty, funky, minerally were the words that came to mind. Each sake has its own, unique personality, not trying to be a sake that wins awards or please judges. 

I can also see that in Kirnon's dishes. Each dish is executed with a clear goal and vision from its creator. All the sakes and dishes were confident in their flavors and presentation. Perhaps it's no coincidence that both the Hayashi Honten owner, Rieko Hayashi and Miss Ollie's owner, Sarah Kirnon cite their grandmother's as their main inspiration.

Sake Pairing at Miss Ollie's Umami MartChef/Owner Sarah Kirnon, Miss Ollie's

901 Washington Street
Oakland, CA 94607

Column: Women in the Industry


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