Another ‘Only in Japan’: Insane Wine List

So I get a text to meet at this restaurant and when I looked it up I could barely find information on it. I decide to put myself in his hands because this guy knows food and wine, more wine than food but he knows enough about food to be a good dining partner.

I walk into the restaurant and a bit taken aback, it makes zero sense. If a thrift store for theater companies threw up the furniture and props into the room, this place would be it. The interior is cluttered with tchotchkes of gnomes and Japanese figurines, empty bottles of DRC (Domaine de la Romanée-Conti) and magnums of rare Dom Pérignon. The table has a bell to ring for service.

I am confused.

Well. I open the wine menu and I finally got it. Here is only part of it (not even a 1/3).

I’m no wine expert but even I was able to pin-point some rare names and vintages. But, I think the best part of the menu, was ‘other country’ sections and some of the best wine producers from countries other than France were added towards the end of the menu like an after-thought. LOL.

This weekend was full of firsts; more to come on my Saturday.
Ahhhh Japan, you are the best!

By the way, this is what we had:

Comtes de champagne and Corton-Charlemagne 2005

Gyoza and Champagne

Gyoza and champagne, two of my favorite things in one place at once? YES PLEASE. It was hard for me to imagine gyoza (ghetto cheap food) with champagne (a ‘special occasion’ drink) but this place pulls it off.

Located in between Shinbashi and Toranomon, the interior is elegant; not smokey and gross at all. They just opened in May, their champagne list is extensive, menu is well thought out with a healthy selection of classy nibbles that extend beyond gyoza. Like their ‘kimchee’ which technically is an assortment of fresh vegetables marinated in the kimchee mix.

But the star is their crispy, juicy gyoza with four delicious dipping sauces: spicy sesame miso (Kobe style), dashi ponzu with chokushichi (直七) a citrus between yuzu and grapefruit from the Kōchi prefecture that is super light on acidity, green pepper and fond de veau, white truffle oil. (My favorite was the dashi ponzu and just eating with a bit of sprinkled salt).

I have a feeling this place is going to end up super popular — give it another year or so. Definitely recommended!

Champagne & Gyoza Bar
Drop this into Google Maps↓
東京都港区西新橋1-18-11 ル・グラシエルBLDG.16 1F

*No website, no reservations, closed on Sunday

The Other Dom: Dom Runnart #champagne

Dom Ruinart is a little known champagne that is so lovely and delicious. They are owned by LVMH (Moët, Hennessy, Luis Vuitton, etc.) who also own Veuve Clicquot and Dom Pérignon.

Dom, Veuve and Cristal have sadly branded themselves as these ghetto-rapper-club champagnes in the U.S. which is so unfortunate as all three are really nice bubblies.

Enter Dom Ruinart — which tastes just as nice as Dom, Veuve and Cristal in the mid $100 price range champagnes and is my saving grace.

Both the Brut Millésimé (pictured above) and Blanco (below) are wonderful summer champagnes to drink at breakfast or lunch.


My first drink is always rosé bubbly at Quality Meats, NYC.


Stupid me, I always assumed pink colored wine would be sweet, fruity and, well, sweet.

One of my favorite restaurants on the planet Animal, introduced me to rosé.

I took my first sip and was astounded. It was dry with a mild fruitiness and almost zero acidity I dislike in whites. I couldn’t believe that pink wine could taste like that. The manager, Helen, changed my life.

Rosés go beautifully with Pacific Northwest and California cuisines. I’d even go as far as to say with Japanese food as well. Ever since that day in 2008, I was hooked and have been hooked. I love rosé wines and especially rosê bubbly.

The one downside to fancying rosé is that for some peculiar reason, the champagnes are more expensive than regular champagnes. I’ve been curious as to why that is and finally Googled. As usual, I learned more than I wanted to learn…which pretty much sums up my relationship with wines and champagnes.

Since I understand the process, history, regions and such, I just want to retain information I can use in real life situations. Like when I am at a cocktail party or bar and unsure what to order. I realized long ago, I never, ever remember names. It’s also too much effort to attempt memorizing.

So I started this method which has worked really well: asking.

Yes, I ask the sommelier, server or dining companions but here are some memorable points:

  • The darker the wine or champagne is, the more fruity it is. Lighter rosés are drier. (I love dry.)
  • Many champagne houses make two rosés: standard brut (which can be vintage or non-vintage) and a prestige cuvée brut (which is usually vintage)

Recommended food pairings:
– raw fishes
– grilled crustaceans
– fine meats (like prosciutto)
– duck
– lamb
– spiced foods, especially with vinegar bases (like curry)
– creamy cheeses (goat and sheep)
– red fruit desserts

So if you’ve never tried rosé, do not fret. There’s no better time than now. Gosh, I love rosés during the spring and summers!