The Gourmet section of the GetNavi site reveals a terrifying combination discovered by reporter Sōta Hatano: sake and shellfish grilled with dashi and soy, available from the Lawson convenience store chain.
Hatano identifies himself as one of the converted when it comes to sake, delighting in the rice-derived umami, richness of aroma and refreshment after drinking that differs from label to label. But he doesn’t find sake so much fun to drink on its own, so he’s always on the look out for good snacks.
Attracted by the shellfish on the packet, he mindlessly picked up the “Shore Shellfish Grilled with Dashi and Soy” (磯貝だし醬油焼き) from the Lawson Select range. (JPY 308) Although the name is a bit vague (磯貝, isogai, “shore shellfish”) the contents seem to be a shellfish called akanishi-kai (アカニシ貝, rock shells or Rapana thomasiana) commonly seen in revolving sushi restaurants. Hatano recognised them and knew they were crunchy and chewy so looked forward to trying them.
Opening the packet released a burst of dashi aroma, even though the contents were individually sealed – which indicated how strong the dashi used was. The shellfish expanded a little when released from their individual wrappings, but still looked tender and chewy. Hatano’s first impression was that they were incredibly easy to eat, without the “fishy” smell that puts some people off. They were chewy as expected, but not tough and very satisfying to eat. More flavour emerged as he chewed, an advantage also found with dried squid. So he gave them points for both flavour and mouthfeel/chewiness.
He chose a Kubota junmai daiginjō to pair them with, drinking it after chewing the shellfish thoroughly. The result was the dashi and soy flavours from the snack melding with the sweetness of the sake (he trails off…). He kept recreating the sensation and managed to get quite a way through the sake without realising it. Hence, a terrifying combination.
Hatano tasted the combination with the sake at room temperature, but expects it could be even better with the sake warmed, or even paired with white wine for an East/West fusion concept. He expects that any sake should work so long as it has plenty of umami and transparency.