Gohan Society’s Aki Matsuri

Each year the Gohan Society hosts the Aki Matsuri, an autumn festival designed to bring Japanese food and culture together with New York food and culture. This year, on Thursday, October 4th, at the Brooklyn Brewery in Williamsburg, Aki Matsuri 2012 included food samples from 11 restaurants ranging from New American to traditional Japanese:

  • Blue Ribbon Brooklyn – Eric & Bruce Bromberg presented their famous chicken wings
  • Gramercy Tavern – James Beard winning chef Michael Anthony + 1 Michelin star
  • Morimoto – the Iron Chef himself!
  • Oceana – Temple to crudo
  • Red Rooster – James Beard Award winner Marcus Samuelsson
  • Sakagura – best sake selection in NYC
  • Soba Totto – some of the best soba noodles you’ll ever have
  • Sushi Zen – handmade, traditional sushi – more famous in Japan than NYC
  • Takahachi – Michelin Recommended sushi
  • Talde – Top Chef alum Dale Talde
  • Tori Shin – our favorite yakitori & 1 Michelin star

There was a ton of talent in the room and it’d take too long to go over each dish, but I have to say that the Morimoto managed to out fried chicken the fried chicken geniuses at Blue Ribbon. Leave it to the Iron Chef to turn a festival & fund raiser into a competition!

The biggest surprise was the Matsutake gelee with black garlic and miso from Gramercy Tavern. I knew Michael Anthony was talented, but he managed to create the most delicate, mesmerizing kaiseki like dish of the night. He’s from Ohio!

Perhaps the most fun was the Sushi Zen gang where a slew of sushi chefs made sushi to order with everything from toro (fatty tuna belly) to uni (sea urchin) to saba (mackerel). Their line was the longest of the night and they ran out of food before anyone else.

Drinks wise, sake was available from a good half dozen to dozen breweries. Highlights were the Dewatsuru Kimoto Junmai (as well as their Habataki Junmai Ginjo), and the Minato Harbor Nama Genshu. Beer was available, of course from Brooklyn Brewery, where it was fun to try brews they don’t normally sell around the city. Finally, Suntory Whisky made an appearance with Yamazaki 12 year, Hibki 12, and Hakushu 12. Their brand ambassador Gardner Dunn was there with a specialty cocktail that was refreshing and delicious. Note: his ice carving skills are impressive.

Finally, and certainly not least, there were a number of Japanese performances including a taiko (traditional Japanese drumming) performance and a soba-making performance (with accompanying drums) by Soba Totto chef, Shuichi Kotani.

Having attended any number of Japanese cultural and culinary events around New York City over the past several years, the nicest surprise from Aki Matsuri was the blending of Japanese and American cuisine as well as the blending of Japanese and American patrons, all Japanese food lovers.



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