Most of the time, I’m years behind the curve when it comes to knowing the newest, coolest and most secret places to eat and drink in New York. This week however, the gods of New, Cool and Secret were smiling upon me as I was lucky enough to snag entrée to Sake Sommelier Chizuko Niikawa-Helton’s latest invitation-only sake tasting event called “A Night to Remember” and held at New York’s newest hidden sake hideaway, the soon-to-open private club Bohemian.

Rare Sakes
Chizuko-san recently traveled to Japan and came back with a bevy of rare and hard to find sake that she wanted to share with us at this tasting. Most of the sake we tasted is not for sale in the U.S. and a few special bottles were directly from the Brewer and not for sale even in Japan!

Kimono Sleeves are Better than Pockets

Kimono Sleeves are Better than Pockets

I decided to try my hand at wearing Kimono for this event. Honestly, it was a little nerve wracking. I did my best to tie my obi correctly and headed out the door onto the NYC streets in my shiny green haori! When I arrived, I was greeted warmly and all the Japanese folks at the event seemed happy to see me in Kimono. It ended up being a lot of fun! You can hide a lot in those sleeves!

A Sparkling Warmup
We were greeted at the door with a flute of Dassai 39 Sparkling Junmai Daiginjo Nigori. Delicious, elegant and a perfectly fizzy way to start the evening off right.

After the Dassai 39 Nigori, the sakes came fast and furious. Chizuko-san poured each with a grace and hospitality that can only come from years of Sommelier experience. In a field of already extra delicious brews, two sakes from Iwate Prefecture’s Nanbu Bijin Brewery stood out as extra, extra delicious.

Nanbu Bijin Shines
First was the Nanbu Bijin Daiginjo First Run 2009 “Hatsu Bashiri”. This sake was alive with luscious fruits on the palate and a refreshing juicy mouthfeel, all the while feeling smooth, elegant and expressive. A really wonderful Daiginjo!

Nanbu Bijin Hatsu Bashiri

Nanbu Bijin Hatsu Bashiri

The second sake of note was the Nanbu Bijin 12 year aged Daiginjo “9BY”. This sake is special as it was brewed by the late Master Brewer of Nanbu Bijin, the Honored Mr. Hajime Yamaguchi.

This sake was aged for 12 years at very cold temperatures which gave it a very rare deep level of complexity on the palate. Rich, full and ravishing, this sake was a true masterpiece. Although I had never met him, I couldn’t help feeling the spirit of Yamaguchi-san was there with us through his magnificent sake.

Food, Glorious Food
I’d really me remiss if I just reported on the sake. Bohemian Executive Chef Kiyotaka Shinoki paraded several courses of really delicious and inventive food to pair with the sakes. From fresh tuna and kanpachi sashimi to fresh oysters with a spritz of key lime to a delicious fresh ikura caviar rice bowl, all the food was amazing. We sampled 11 unique dishes and each had an elegant touch and refined simplicity. Just beautiful Japanese food.

Ice Bucket/Ice Sculpture

Ice Bucket/Ice Sculpture

Beautiful Space
Bohemian itself was beautiful. Think ginormous skylight, live moss garden, sake ice bucket free form ice sculptures, backlit bar and modern Asian art light sculptures. yeah, I know. The whole 9 yards. Beautiful space, beautiful food, beautiful sake and beautiful company all came together to make a pretty darned beautiful evening. My special thanks go out to Chizuko-san for spearheading this special event with Bohemian. It really was “A Night to Remember!”


  1. Pingback: A Sake Night to Remember III: Daishichi! Sake |

  2. Profile photo of Timothy Sullivan
    Timothy Sullivan

    May 14, 2009 at 11:38 pm

    Hiroko-san, I wanted to take lots of sake home in my sleeves, but everything was gone after we drank it all! maybe next time!

  3. Chizuko

    May 14, 2009 at 11:14 pm

    Tim-san! Thank you for coming the party! It might be my best sake event! Your kimono was fantastic! My kimono teacher Kumi-san was very surprised too! See you soon at next sake tasting!

  4. Profile photo of Timothy Sullivan
    Timothy Sullivan

    May 14, 2009 at 5:54 pm

    Hi Chizuko-san! Thanks for the wonderful party!! You can tell from the article I had a great time. I think it was your best yet!! Keep them coming. I was happy to meet Kumi-san again at the tasting. I was embarrassed to show my kimono style to your teacher but she was very nice and supportive! see you soon!

  5. Hiroko

    May 14, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    I wish I was there….. Did you steal any sake from the event? You have huge pockets under your sleeves. The perfect place to hide sake bottle!


  6. Profile photo of Timothy Sullivan
    Timothy Sullivan

    May 13, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    Hi Et-chan, yes, October should be my Kimono debut in Japan. I get more confident each time I wear kimono in public!

  7. Tokyofoodcast

    May 13, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    You look great in kimono! October is your kimono debut (kimono debuu) in Japan?

  8. Profile photo of Timothy Sullivan
    Timothy Sullivan

    May 13, 2009 at 6:05 pm

    Hi Ondrej, It was a great event and fun for a night to wear kimono on the street of NYC. thanks for reading!

  9. Ondrej

    May 13, 2009 at 8:47 am

    Hello Timothy, it seemd like great event and i can imagine the feeling in Kimono on street. Good article.

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