The fine folk at the ITC were kind enough to invite me to The China-Japan Debate on a plate. It was a lot more fun and less literal than it sounds. Essentially, the ITC Grand Maratha and Diageo put together a dinner to debate how Chinese, Japanese cuisine pair with various Johnny Walker Whiskies.
Heading the table was Raveen Misra brand ambassador for JW Gold Reserve and folks from Diageo and fellow food writers/bloggers. The menu had dishes paired with whisky pairings and one had to choose from either the Chinese or the Japanese. For the most part, i got both :)
We started with an outlandishly oriental version of a Rob Roy, this one called Mao's Tipple was i believe whisky, vermouth and bitters, oolong tea leaves with flakes of sichuan pepper . once the tongue got burning, the taste of the drink completely changed. very cool.
I chose the Chinese appetizer which was a silken bean curd with black pepper and chilli. Terrific, no complaints with this one. a must have.
The Japanese appetizer was a tempura of asparagus and eggplants, which i found to be very average, especially compared to the near perfect Chinese appetizer.
This was paired with Johnny Walker Gold Reserve, served with crushed ice which gets it to the right temperature without diluting the drink. I thought both dishes went well with the paired whisky, Japanese actually worked better.
The Chinese main was a crackling rice with veggies in sweet & sour sauce. Again a decent selection, the rice and the veggies worked well, although more sweet than sour.
The Japanese main was grilled Tofu served with eggplant and it was very well executed. The flavours were lighter than the Chinese dish but i thought it worked well.
both the main's were paired with the Johnny Walker Platinum Label and this one was my fav of the evening. Went down very well and was quite smooth to taste. A dash of cold water helped salve the super strong vapors.
I have never been a fan of Asian desserts, the winter cherry tart was okayish, the wasabi ice cream was perfect but i dont like Wasabi ice cream at all. The Chinese dessert too was okay, with fried ice cream and fresh fruits. Neither dessert better than the other however.
This was paired with the JW XR21 which while prestigious didn't quite have the finish of the Platinum or ease of the Gold Reserve.
All in all , it was a great evening, i thought the food was evenly matched but the Chinese had the edge, a slight one at at that. We Indians aren't big drinkers with our meals, its always a pre-meal activity for most of us, although wine is catching on.
I usually avoid drinking whisky unless i am in a colder climate but this was lots of fun and fairly daring to pair Whisky that too with Asian cuisine. I was glad to learn that none of the Whiskeys clashed with the dishes being served and for the most part it all worked well. Although I believe it will be sometime before we start imbibing whiskey dish by dish.
Kudos to Johnny Walker for ensuring and actually questioning the diners on how they were getting home and offering to have people dropped or driven home.
It was a great evening with a bunch of friends and many thanks to Urvika Pandey at the ITC for having me over and being a great albeit teetotal host.