What to drink at Juno Omakase

Ahead of the launch of Los Mochis Notting Hill’s intimate omakase experience this week, sommelier Rob Sherwood spoke with WLC about finding wines that connect with ingredients, and what he looks for in a Tequila to pair with Japanese cuisine.

On Thursday 11 January, Juno Omakase will open on the first floor of Los Mochis. Offering 15 courses (RRP: £180 without drinks), this six seater experience claims to be the smallest omakase in London. The food, crafted by executive chef Leonard Tanyag and head sushi chef Han, emphasises high-quality Japanese produce, especially seafood.

Of course, creating drinks pairings for a 15 course feast is no mean feat – you don’t necessarily want to overwhelm your guests with a large amount of alcohol, or tire their palates out. Sherwood explained Juno Omakase’s approach: “We serve one pairing across two-to-three dishes that compliment one another, allowing our guests to enjoy their drinks whilst enjoying each course. Our drink selection focuses on white and lighter reds that embody the carefully curated flavours of chef Leonard’s dishes.”

Asked how closely he worked with the kitchen to develop pairings, Sherwood said: “Extremely closely, with the regularly changing menu we tailor the food order to reflect the best pairings across a few dishes. As each dish showcases such unique flavour and texture combinations, we wanted to spotlight this technique with the bespoke pairings, reflecting the Pan-Pacific ethos of the restaurant.”

“A star of the current pairing is the Attis Mar Albariño from Rías Baixas,” he explained. “Aged on its lees and underwater for six months in the corals off the coast. This Albariño is like no other and shows complexity rarely seen from Albariño. This pairing perfectly harmonises with one particular dish, the Chu Toro from the Blue Fin Tuna. As the Toro swims in the Northern Atlantic, the same place where the wine is aged, the pairing truly connects both produce and the wine.”

“I love wines that are off the beaten track, particularly the Veltliner from Petr Korab in Moravia, Czechia, a richly-textured Grüner Veltliner from this small producer in the local area. This, paired with Botan Ebi, jumbo sushi prawns known for their sweet, delicate flavour and vibrant red exterior, is magical.”

Sherwood shared that, in keeping with the restaurant’s sustainability focus, there is an emphasis on working with “smaller” wine producers, especially those using organic and/or biodynamic practices.

But it isn’t just wine that visitors to Juno Omakase will encounter – Los Mochis also boasts of a sizeable collection of other drinks, straddling the Pacific to bring a taste of Japan and Mexico to Notting Hill. From the sake selection, Sherwood selects the Honke Matsuura Naurotai, Nama Genshu Ginjō, “an unpasteurised and undiluted Sake which wonderfully showcases the harmony of Umami flavours alongside brighter fruit aromas”. While the wine pairing costs an additional £160, for sake it is only £95.

Among the agave-based spirits Sherwood highlights are Leyenda del Milagro Reposado, a Tequila from master distiller Pedro Juarez, and Marde Ensamble mezcal, which he pairs with Kagoshima A4 Wagyu and bone marrow.

Given the (unfair) reputation Tequila and mezcal have as headache-inducing firewater, it might seem like a poor pairing for Japanese cuisine, a style of cookery often typified as “subtle”. However, Sherwood explained that the secret is balance: “I wanted to explore using Agave-based spirits that not only highlight the Agave liquid itself but rely less on ageing and smoke. The key is to not overpower the delicate dishes but use the pairings to spotlight their exceptional flavour. Blanco Tequila is often my number one choice when creating pairings for Juno.”

This article originally appeared on the drinks business.

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