East meets North Fork at Stirling Sake’s NoFo Champloo events

Chef Michi Rythem in the Stirling Sake kitchen during the July NoFo Champloo event. (Credit: Estefany Molina)

Nestled into the southwest corner of Center and Main streets in Greenport is Stirling Sake, a sake tasting room serving up authentic Japanese fare.

Chef-owner Yuki Mori has created a space that is grounded in Japanese tradition and conviviality, but there’s still room for some commingling of other cultures.

That is where NoFo Champloo — a concept that marries Japanese tradition with the North Fork way of life — comes into play.

Inspired by the Japanese animé series Samurai Champloo, it’s a monthly concept that employs the idea of cultural mixing, much like Samurai Champloo’s blending of historical Japanese context with modern Western influence.

Champloo itself means “something mixed,” from the word Chanpurū, a stir-fry dish from Okinawa.

The $75 tasting events, which also feature curated music, have been billed as a way to bring together a community of artisans, farmers, fishermen and performers interested in excellence.

The rice course at the July event. (Credit: Estefany Molina)

The launch of NoFo Champloo in May coincided with the arrival of Michi Rythem, a Japanese private chef, who cooks primarily for some of her country’s athletes. Along with Yuki and fellow collaborator Johnathon Lee, Michi curated a seven-course meal based on the traditional Kyoto tea ceremony, which demands the use of the freshest ingredients possible.

With this idea in mind, the first menu incorporated local seasonal fare from farms like Treiber, 8 Hands, KK’s, Sang Lee, Country View and Down To Earth.

The latest NoFo Champloo in July included sake pairings with sake sommelier Andrew Richardson of World Sake Imports, alongside wine pairings from The Old Field Vineyards in Southold. Michi included the 2010 Commodore Perry Merlot, named after Matthew Calbraith Perry, the U.S. Naval Officer who helped open Japan to the West. The wine was handcrafted by Old Field winemaker Olive Perry Weiss, a direct descendent of the commodore. The wine and sake pairings are an additional $25.

The Champloo events are not the only way Stirling Sake is joining cultures this summer. The restaurant has also introduced a Poké Garden Pop-Up, which features Poké lunch boxes from noon to 3 p.m. on weekdays. Created by Japanese-born May Carroll — who was raised in Hawaii before her arrival in New York — the meals incorporate both Hawaiian and Japanese recipes along with North Fork ingredients. The lunch, which is conveniently packed for a mid-day meal at the beach, includes 15 grains, line caught tuna and salmon, avocado, seaweed, handcrafted sesame oil from Kyoto and a medley of micro veggies.

The pop-up lunches will continue through the end of August.

Dates are still being set for future North Fork Champloo events. Keep an eye out at stirlingsake.com.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this post had specific dates for the next events, but those dates are subject to change. Call ahead 631-477-6782 before planning to attend.

Stirling Sake is located at 477 Main Street in Greenport.

Sake sommelier Andrew Richardson talks with diners during the July event. (Credit: Estefany Molina)

Michi in the kitchen. (Credit: Estefany Molina)

Michi with Olive Perry Weiss, left, and her mom, Ros Bais. (Credit: Estefany Molina)

Another of the seven courses served during the July event. (Credit: Estefany Molina)