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Choosing your own flavour is more commonly associated with ice cream stands. But now leading Japanese Robata Restaurant MASU by Nic Watt in SKYCITY’s Federal Street is taking flavour choice to its shochu bar.
Shochu is a traditional Japanese distilled spirit and MASU diners are being offered the opportunity to design their own custom blend of the famous Japanese liquor.
MASU bar manager Brandon Walker is in charge and he’s going to help customers build a customised shochu based on their flavour preferences.
MASU will infuse the flavours into each customer’s four-litre kume jar residing at the restaurant. The resulting beverage will be available by the glass to the customer and his or her guests.
Executive chef Nic Watt says it’s common in Japan for customers to buy a bottle and keep it at their favourite restaurant or bar, a popular custom in Japan referred to as “bottle keep”.
“In our case, each kume jar is displayed on shelves throughout the restaurant and our staff will serve the owner their bespoke shochu when they visit us. It’s a wonderful concept and says a lot about the Japanese culture that customers trust the establishment to keep their beverage under safe-keeping.
“We know our customers very much enjoy their shochu and believe the idea of designing your own will be very well accepted. It fits so well with our passion for flavour and dedication to detail.”
Shochu is commonly made from rice, barley or sweet potato. MASU takes a rice based shochu (15%ABV) and infuses it with fresh fruit, spices and herbs.
Watt says shochu is very versatile and can be enjoyed chilled over ice, neat, with juice, tea or warm water - dependant on the style and flavour.
“At MASU we commonly serve our fruit infused shochu over crystal clear hand carved ice that has been slow frozen over seven days. That means the ice melts incredibly slowly – chilling your drink without diluting it.”
Brandon Walker has a few hints on how to choose appropriate flavours.
“The Kome (pure rice) shochu we use for our infusions has a very soft, smooth flavour which makes it a great neutral base – essentially a blank palate.
“Our method of infusion draws a huge amount of flavour from the fruit, resulting in vibrant colours and strongly flavoured aromas. This season’s tamarillo for instance has an amazing, bright perfumed nose, while the feijoa smells of jasmine and rose.
“When choosing flavours, seasonal fruit generally returns the best results because it contains higher levels of sugar. But try thinking beyond straight fruit flavour profiles - consider what you enjoy drinking,” Brandon says.
“If you enjoy Pimms then an infusion of fresh strawberry with citrus, herbs and spices may be your thing. We have also done infusions based on the Bloody Mary cocktail in the past with great success.”
Each consultation and the resulting blend costs $250 for a four-litre kume jar.
Current fruit infusions on the MASU menu by the glass are tamarillo, strawberry, feijoa, mandarin, date, coffee, cocoa, and dried apricot but any number of fruits and vegetables can form a tasty aroma and flavour profile.
Shochu at MASU is available only to customers aged 18 and older. Host responsibility limits apply to the service of alcohol. Bookings are recommended for shochu consultations and all infusions are subject to seasonal availability. Our pricing is correct as at the time of print but may be subject to change.