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Suntory Roku Gin, 43% abv, €45.00 at 34 O’Brien’s Off Licences and O’Brien’s online
There’s a whiff of the evergreens when you nose this, floral and citrus notes also. Clean and freshon the palate too, the aromatics still pleasantly at play. Quite a backbone of savoury notes too as you realise that this well-balanced gin is a good one, one that lives up to its premium tag.
With tonic (Fever tree regular), the nose remains clean and fresh. Give the mix a bit of time and more of the flavours and aromas of this nuanced gin emerge before a dry lingering dry finish, a touch of tannin at the finalé.
Roku means six in Japanese and six, including the Kanji symbol, is all over the hexagonal bottle. Indeed, there are six Japanese botanicals inside: Sakura (cherry) flower, Sakura leaf, Yuzu peel, Sencha tea (green tea), Gyokuro tea (refined green tea) and Sanshō pepper. And each, delicately embossed, has a side of the bottle to itself.
“Each has been harvested at the peak of its season to extract the best flavour, and distilled to fully embody the blessings of nature.” Four distinct types of pot stills are used in a process unique to the "Liquor Atelier", the specialised craft distillery for Suntory spirits, whereby “the botanicals are distilled separately according to each feature of botanicals to extract the best flavour and maintain their individual characteristics. For instance, the delicate scent of cherry blossom is drawn out through vacuum distillation in stainless pot stills, whereas the deep flavour of yuzu is achieved by distillation in copper still pots”.
There is of course a big nod to the gin tradition so juniper berries, coriander, angelica seed and root, cinnamon, cardamom, bitter orange and lemon peel are also in the mix.
I’m certain the mixologists will find many applications for this excellent gin. Roku themselves offer just one recipe. They believe that the warm, pungent flavour of ginger further highlights the unique quality of the Japanese botanicals and so they give us the the Roku Gin and Tonic, their Perfect Serve that “evokes the style of Japan”.
Use six thinly sliced sticks of ginger
Pour 5cl of ROKU into a measuring glass.
Add the ginger sticks and ROKU to a long glass filled with ice and tonic water.
I've tried this GG&T a few times and it is indeed very enjoyable. I tried re-using the ginger sticks in the next glass as well and it seemed to heighten the partnership in this Perfect Serve. Or was that just the second glass effect?
The always busy Cork corner between Barrack Street and Evergreen Street has a new feature, a Japanese Take-Away called Miyazaki. It looks as if this corner will get even busier as top chef Takashi Miyazaki has opened up a “treasure box” of Japanese food. “I want people to enjoy the real flavours of Japan.”
The owner-chef is a native of Fukuoka in Japan and has over twenty years high level experience. The use of fresh local ingredients and Takashi's essential ingredient of dashi broth brings you a traditional Japanese cuisine known as “Itadakimasu”. I was there last Friday and got lunch and supper for forty euro for the two of us.
The “treasure box” is just that, a small boxy place with room for just a handful of sit-down customers. You sit on stools near the a shelf along the window and watch the people come and go outside. But you don't do much watching really as your eyes and attention are on the flavours in the dish.
We were there just as the doors opened at 1.00pm and got two of those precious high stools. We studied the menu and, of course, the specials board! As we waited, we were served with bowls of a lovely Miso Soup (with tofu, wakame seaweed and dashi), delicate and delicious.
Neither of us knows much about Japanese food so we were consciously or unconsciously looking for familiar words. And so it was that CL chose the Teriyaki Chicken Bento (grilled chicken, marinated with homemade teriyaki sauce). This was superb, a great balance between the flavours, the rice too playing a role here.
Chicken. Yes that's half an egg at top.
I went for the Salmon Zuke Donburi (fresh Atlantic salmon marinated in soy based sauce on steamed rice). This was served in a bowl with slices of marinated salmon and ikura (salmon roe) on top and a little dollop of wasabi. Lots going on here, the colour, the flavour, the amazing texture of the salmon all adding up to lunch-time perfection!
Lunch was over but the remarkable experience was to be soon continued. We had a look at the take-away section (this gets very busy in the evenings) and picked two items for sharing later on. The first was Nori Bento (Nori seaweed, breaded fish, fish cake with kimpira burdock). It looked a small enough container but there was certainly enough there as a shared starter. But never mind about the quantity, the quality (flavour and texture) was once again outstanding.
And it just got better with the (Stir fried beef and vegetables with Miya’s yakiniku sauce). Once again an amazing mix of flavours and, of course, that lovely softish crunch that you get with stir-fried vegetables.
So if you want remarkable food from this amazing chef, head to Evergreen Street (just a few minutes from the English Market) and you’ll find Miyazaki’s doors open between 13.00 to 16.00 and 17.00 to 21.00 Tuesday to Sunday. Phone number is 021-4312716.