The right beer can be food’s best friend, as the rise of restaurant-specific beer collaborations indicates. These tag-team brews, including stellar examples from Mission Chinese Food, Tosca, and Bar Tartine, often work elements from their partner kitchens into the brewing process. Ultimately, though, the goal is to make the beer drinkable, and a great accompaniment to much of the food menu.
One of our favorite examples is ICHIBIER, a joint effort between Almanac Beer and ICHI Sushi + NI Bar. Made with sushi rice from the ICHI kitchen and infused with shiso leaf and yuzu juice, the beer is light, refreshing, and delicately aromatic. When preparing to open the new ICHI, complete with the NI Bar izakaya, Chef Tim Archuleta knew that he wanted a special house beer to celebrate. And he knew that he wanted Almanac to make it.
Jesse Friedman, Ken Furusawa, Erin Archuleta, and Damian Fagan (Photo courtesy of Erin Archuleta).
“When it comes down to it, izakaya food is beer-drinking, booze food,” Archuleta explains “You intentionally want to make the food salty because it goes so well with beer. It’s a perfect pairing.”
So perfect, in fact, that the team at ICHI has put together a special beer-paired menu at NI Bar, exclusively for 7x7 readers. Featuring all five of the restaurant’s on-tap beers — ICHIBIER, Mission Hefe, Hitachino Nest White Ale, Sapporo, and Asahi — available in full and half pints, Archuleta and bar manager Ken Furusawa selected two to three izakaya dishes to pair with each. Depending on your mood, you can go all-in for a beer-paired feast, or opt for a couple of half pints and snacks to get your night going.
“That’s the thing I love about izakaya — it can be a full meal, but doesn’t have to,” Archuleta says of the format. “I love the idea of a progressive dinner — maybe you start out with a few pieces of sushi, then move next door for a bowl of udon, then, a few drinks in, end up at the izakaya for some yakitori.”
The NI pairing menu showcases a number salty, flavor-bomb dishes new to the ICHI menu, including a stunning dish of crisp-fried ocean trout swimming in rich dashi broth, and a skewer of grilled pork shoulder glazed with white miso, paired with Asahi and Sapporo, respectively (Asahi is more dry, while Sapporo is a little more sweet).
Pork Shoulder with Miso, Flank Steak with Ponsu and Yuzu Kosho, Sapporo
But you can sample pairings featuring ICHI’s deft touch with lighter dishes, too. A selection of sashimi goes wonderfully with the light, clean taste of Hitachino Nest, while bright, fresh asparagus laced with a nutty sesame dressing is nicely complemented by a Almanac's Golden Gate Gose, a wheat-based sour that acts as a subtle "salad dressing" for the vegetables.
As for Archuleta and Furusawa’s ICHIBIER picks? They cover a wide spectrum, from a raw, dressed “taco” of raw tuna and ocean trout on delicate strips of nori, to ICHI’s widely loved yuzu fried chicken wings.
“The unifying flavor here is citrus, but the ICHIBIER works well at both cleansing your palate and bringing out more complex flavors,” Archuleta explains. “It’s a little more complex, for dishes that are a little more complicated flavor-wise.”
Furusawa notes the versatility of ICHIBIER, too.
“The Almanac touch with ingredients is light, elegant — it’s aromatic, not overpowering,” he says. “And I think it’s really neat that they live in the neighborhood, and were already regulars at ICHI. They get the food, and the beer shows that.”
Ready to get tasting? Ask for the 7x7 Beer Pairing Menu at NI Bar.
Follow Lauren @laurensloss.