Bonsai! Or Cheers in Japanese! I attended Fulin’s Asian Cuisine’s wine and sake tasting on Tuesday, Aug. 16. Fulin’s is located in The Avenue, and from the outside, one will be pleasantly surprised with the different Asian world you’re walking into. Sir Eric Bates represented and general manager Jenny Zhong officiated a delightful evening with six wines and two sakes to taste, and some tasty appetizer and sushi treats. I’ve always had a fascination and adoration for sake. I was eager to learn! We’ll begin with the wines, which are all on the menu.
Stella Pinot Grigio 2009 Umbria from Italy was the first, as well as my favorite. White. Finally a screw top from Italy, yet it didn’t disappoint. It was light straw in color and was clean and simple. I got peachy notes in the beginning mouth feel, finishing dry and fast.
Kenwood Savignon Blanc 2009 Sonoma from California achieved a richer, deeper color despite the fact that it is fermented in steel casks. This too, was a screw top. I was expecting smoke due to the appearance of the body and aroma but it was surprisingly dry and estery in taste. It was Sonoma’s version of Sav Blanc, for me—not so much.
Another California attempt, this one Coastal, was Meridian 2009 Chardonnay. I liked the process, 50 percent steel and 50 percent second used oak barrels. It possessed a bright honey feel paired with a tart grapefruit and sweet pineapple finish. This Chard was balanced beautifully. The finish was flashy, but strong.
The first red was Concannon Pinot Noir 2009 from the California Central Coast. The word I would use to describe this wine is, to be polite, earthy. This vineyard has existed since 1883, and I don’t think they changed a thing from inception. Almost gamey, it felt very organic and produced almost no legs, demonstrating it’s high alcohol content and lack of sugar.
Welcome again, Argentina, with Zolo 2010 Malbec from Mendoza. This Malbec had an intense berry color and aroma to it but did not follow up in the feel. I would call it average. It is a decent filler wine that is understood because of the price.
My red pick of the evening was Liberty School 2008 Paso Robles Cabernet Savignon from Central Coast, again in California. Aged mostly in 10-year-old oak barrels, the body was exquisite. I felt a complexity of coffee, blackberry, currant, clove and plum. I think the fruit caused the sharp beginning then leading to an easy medium where it all came together and ending with a soothing, lingering coffee-clove finish. I felt like I had just had an entire meal!
Although Sake is referred to as “rice wine,” it is actually a brewed beverage—more closely related to beer. In lieu of using hops or barley, rice is used in the process, as well as yeast and Koji. Koji is a mold spore that contains an enzyme added to cooked rice, which in turn converts the rice into glucose and with the addition of yeast becomes alcohol. I’m going to be quick with my descriptions of the sake because Fulin’s is hosting a full sake tasting in the near future.
Sho Chiku Bai Classic Sake is the filtered version and the smoother of the two. It was served very warm in ceramic “shot” glasses. I got a slight rice feel but not much of anything else. I couldn’t detect any alcohol aroma and I suppose if I had to compare it to a beer it would be close to the “Rolling Rock” of sakes. Drinking it hot seems to allow one to enjoy more food, as it doesn’t fill you up. It is the best compliment to Asian cuisine.
I loved the cool, unfiltered sake, Sho Chiku Bai Nigori. It was cloudy white in color and had a slight sweetness and fruit feel to it. The floral aroma steered me towards the sweeter taste. I think this one would be nice for an aperitif as well as a dessert.
In my limited and humble opinion, both of these sakes could be described in the scale of quality as Futusu, which literally means normal or standard. There are five levels of quality which are achieved by the amount of pressed, milled rice, added alcohol, distillation and other factors. I am a new kid at this sake school but I can’t wait to learn more.
Miss Jenny also stuffed us with “light hors d’oeuvres”! The smiling servers kept bring plate after plate of goodies! We gobbled up seaweed salad and the chicken lettuce wrap. I couldn’t get enough of the tempura green beans with a spicy mayo dipping sauce. Then, just when were already satisfied, they brought us sushi. The Honada roll is one of Fulin’s signatures. It is a deep fried spicy tuna roll with chef’s secret sauce. My choice was the Crunchy crab roll, which isn’t on the menu but I recommend you request. The menu doesn’t have a huge array of sushi but the chef would be happy to accommodate any desires you may have. Fulin’s is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week. Go for the sake, stay for the sushi. Expect a smile when you come and a happy, full belly when you leave—without an empty wallet. I’m so excited to be amongst friends again to Eat, Drink and Be Merry!