Artisan Sake Maker & Silk Road Tea Pairing Dinner at The Mark

Last week I witnessed the meeting of the minds at The Mark. There was Masa Shiroki, from Artisan Sake Maker, dedicated sake producer and ambassador.  Also on hand was Tea Master Daniela Cubelic, passionate tea aficionado and owner of Silk Road Tea. And of course, the gourmet food stylings of Hotel Grand Pacific Executive Chef Rick Choy and his crew, and the gracious service overseen by F&B Manager/Sommelier Janis Goard.  Also present? A room as polished as the glassware, and an appreciative and sharp dining crowd. This was Masa’s third sake dinner with The Mark, but the first to intertwine Daniela’s incredible teas into the experience. Both are personable speakers and respected experts in their fields. Each course (and there were many!) was obviously very well planned – tested, discussed and practiced. I loved how ethereal tea and powerful sake were married via the culinary brigade’s deft hands – through local, fall abundance.

It’s literally impossible to not be inspired by listening to both Daniela and Masa speak about their beverages of choice.  Animated, anecdotal and intellectual – the evening left me wondering whether to fly to Japan to polish sake rice, or jet to China to pick tea bush leaves. Oh – fortunate me – I can just visit and learn from them both in person, on Granville Island or Vancouver Island respectively. Tea and sake, calm and fiery. Here is the yin and yang of the evening:


Sockeye Salmon Sashimi, Fraser Valley Rabbit, Qualicum Beach Scallops

Paired with a MarTEAni

A marTEAni of Osake Junmia Nama Nigori, Absolut Kurant and Silk Road Alchemist Brew was a soul warming concoction – sweetly spicy cinnamon, floral rosehips and delicate  cassis. The Sashimi featured cute soy caviar – crazy!

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Sparkling Sake

Lovely light effervescence (Masa is toying with a Traditional Method bubble next) with clear pear, tropical melon and a whiff of anise.

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Silk Road Purple Bamboo Tea

Clean, floral, sweet and refreshing, this very rare tea was a treat.

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Green Urchin Custard, Dungeness Crab, Chanterelles

Paired with – Junmai Nama

The salty, briny custard worked very well with the crisp pear, apple and cantaloupe flavours of the Nama.

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Thiessen Farms Quail, Oyama Prosciutto, Lotus Root

Paired with – Junmai Nama Nigori

The Fraser Valley quail was lovely, and again the salty prosciutto played well with the round sake. This Nama Nigori was clouded with rice lees, giving it a touch of sweetness.  Masa suspected that this Oyama prosciutto included Kasu (spent lees) in the preparation.

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Spicy Mandarin Tea Cured Muscovy Duck, Roasted Squash, Duck Livers

Paired with – Junmai Ginjo Nigori

Silk Road’s spiced Ceylon black tea cured the duck, imprinting an exotic essence of warm spice and citrus peel. The tempura duck livers were a huge hit at my table, as was the Junmai Ginjo Nigori, a lush and creamy unfiltered sake.

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Palate Cleanser

Oolong with Fresh Douglas or Grand Fir Needles

I much prefer this type of palate cleanser to the little granite/sorbet/ices that freeze the palate. Mountain Rain is a Taiwanese semi-green oolong tea, with soft and delicate mossy and floral notes.  Floating within were Grand Fir Needles, specially picked by Daniela for this cleansing pause. Expertly presented in Chinese gaiwan (lidded bowls), demarking the seasonal change from late summer to early autumn.

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Dry Aged Pemberton Beef Striploin, Taro Cake, Sweet Onion Sauce

Paired with – Junmai Ginjo Genshu

Paired with – Keemun Tea

Supple and flavourful beef was matched by the Junmai Ginjo Genshu – a rich white with anise and floral spice flavours that played up the sweet onion. Keemun is a smooth, Chinese black tea, delicate and floral, with smoky dusty notes.

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Nectarine Tasting: Five Spice Nectarine Tart, Silken Tofu & Ox Heart Plum Custard, Almond Mousse

Paired with – Junbaishu Plum Sake

My favourite dish of the night, the plum custard was stunningly intense and alive with freshness, while the nectarines in the tart were saturated with exotically spiced Silk Road Chai. Masa paired this with an infused plum sake from Japan, similar to an eau de vie.

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Food, sake and tea coma = don’t remember.

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