Matching food and wine is a tale as old as time. It can be as basic as saying red meat goes with red wine or as complex as meticulously picking the perfect vintage Pomerol to pair with your beef wellington. Now, what if I asked you to pair a wine with a tea leaf salad featuring green papaya, tomatoes, sprouts, preserved lemons, dates, sesame seeds, fried garlic and fermented tea dressing? Sounds difficult, right? Well, this is exactly the kind of wine-pairing level The Pig & The Lady has mastered thanks to the help of Wataru Iwata, ASI’s best sommelier of Asia & Oceania for 2018.
If you haven’t had the pleasure, The Pig & The Lady joined Ebisu’s popular food scene in late 2019. Founded and run by award winning chef Andrew Le, the restaurant originally began as a pop-up food stand in Hawaii, serving dishes with a modern blend of classic French and Vietnamese cuisine that were inspired by his mother’s recipes.
The restaurant’s wine pairing course features six dishes from the classic menu, as well as one new addition created specially for the wine pairing, along with six wines selected by Iwata himself to compliment each dish. By themselves, each dish and wine packs enough flavor to stand their own ground, but when enjoyed together they form a symphony of ever-changing flavors that keep the evening lively.
To call the event a wine pairing almost seems as a misnomer, as if the food and wine are on par in perfect harmony, yin and yang. In reality though, each sip of wine and bite of food is a magical competition of flavor, each dish and wine trying to win your attention.
This competition kicks off with a riesling that carries an intense aroma of grapes that instantly brings up pleasant memories of a younger, problem-free me drinking Welch’s grape juice in childhood. This is paired with a cute little piece of ahi (tuna) on toast and a plump summer roll — but don’t let their looks fool you, they pack a flavorful kick, pulling you right back out of your nostalgia and back into the present, feeling like a million bucks. The wine amplifies the brightness of the starters, but at the same time mellows the stronger flavors. A stalemate.
As the night goes on, you’re eventually presented with a beautiful, deep-rose colored pinot noir. The aroma of this wine is very light and gentle on the palate and slightly dry. It’s then paired with a tea leaf salad. The bowl is filled with a plethora of varying colors and textures of leaves and, if this dish’s freshness blasts you into the Earth’s atmosphere, the pinot noir acts as a parachute bringing you back down to Earth with its mellower vibe. This round goes to the tea leaf salad.
Just when you think you have the night figured out, the new dish specially created for this wine pairing course appears: the grilled pork chop. However, as you take a bite, you quickly realize this isn’t your normal pork chop. It’s a pork parmesan that just came back from a vacation lounging in the flavors of Vietnam, and it’s living its best life. A pleasant surprise that can bring a smile to anyone’s face. As you go to take a sip of its paired wine — a shiraz — you notice a strong grape aroma, but after it reaches your palate a smokey undertone completely catches you off guard. The wine enhances the grilled flavor of the pork tenfold, but the complex flavor of the drink keeps bringing you back for sip after sip. The wine wins this one.
At the end of evening, or competition, the true winner is the diner and their taste buds. The order of the dishes, the pairings, the flavors and — of course — the alcohol, creates a real dining journey that forces you to appreciate every mouthful and every combination of flavors. Whether you’re enjoying solo, with friends or a date, this pairing course will orchestrate the flow of the conversations and evening, making your time at The Pig & The Lady as flavorful as the food and wine.
*Reservations made for the wine pairing course during the month of April are 20% off.
2F Ebisu Ginza Cross Bldg
1-4-15, Ebisu-Minami, Shibuya-ku
Mon – Fri: 11am – 4pm, 5pm – 11pm
Holidays: 11am – 11pm