chizuko_recommends.jpgSakaya has been having some great tastings! A recent enjoyable afternoon was spent visiting with Chizuko-san, our friend and well known Sake Sommelier at Sakagura. Chizuko-san was introducing us to 3 sakes that are perfect for the coming spring.

The first sake is from Chizuko-san’s home prefecture of Akita. It’s the aptly named Akitabare Shunsetsu Honjozo Nama. It’s interesting to note that this sake is pretty much available year round and not a strict spring release. That sure makes me happy when I’m craving a little nama fix outside of nama season. The taste is great with a bit of a sharp finish that stands up to all that hearty Akita food.

Next, Chizuko-san introduced us to Miyasaka Yamahai 50 Nama Ginjo. This is an amazingly interesting sake from the makers of Masumi. It does an exquisite job of balancing the zing of fresh spring nama and the boldness of Yamahai in one bottle. Unique and delicious! Watch for some interesting fruits in the nose… are those yamahai peaches?

The third and final treat is another delight from Masumi, their well regarded Masumi Arabashiri Junmai Ginjo Nama Genshu. This delight just screams springtime nama. It’s fresh, fresh flavor is alive with a fruitiness that may come across a touch sweeter than it actually is. This sake tastes alive and makes me happy to be alive. However, this is so yummy perhaps you might drink more than you should??

Now, now… you can’t really drink too much nama sake. That was a trick question, people! Stop by Sakaya for one of their tastings! It’s the best gig in town for free tastings on a great array of sake. Oh – and if you see Chizuko-san at Sakagura, tell her Urban Sake says hello.

sakes_2.jpgIn early March, The Japan External Trade Organization (Jetro) held an industry tasting event and lecture called “Japanese Jizake: Artisan Sake Tasting at the Ambassador’s Residence.” This really fun event was held at the official residence of the Counsul General of Japan in New York, Mr. Sakurai. Funny as it would seem, I’ve actually been to the Consul General’s home once before!

chizuko_san.jpgThis event was similar to the previous one in so far as the goal was to support awareness of Japanese sake as an export in New York. The day started with Sake 101 lecture given by well known Sake Specialist Michael Simkin. Michael was very well spoken as usual and helped convey the basics of sake in an easy to understand way. I always learn something new when listing to Michael teach, so I’m delighted to hear his lectures whenever I can.

The tasting took place upstairs and was set up according to Sake Distributor Company. Represented was JFC International Inc, Daiei Trading, Nishimoto Trading Co. Ltd., New York Mutual Trading Inc, and Wine of Japan Import Inc. There were over 80 sakes being poured! Did I get to try them all? well… not ALL of them, but here is a sneak peek and some of the highlights.

kudoki_jozu.jpgOur friend and sake sommelier Chizuko-san was helping pour at the Daiei Trading table and introduced us to a new sake: Tenryohomare Sessuiginshizu Junmai Ginjo. This sake was enjoyable. A clean refreshing taste with mild hints of fruits, but a higher acidity than you may find elsewhere. A real discovery!

When I visited the Nishimoto Trading company table, a near and dear sake caught my eye: Kudoki Jozu. My Friend Kuno-san was there and helped me find some great sakes at the Nishimoto table including the fantastic Urakasumi Zen and that wonderfully light Jozen Mizunogotosh.

What a fantastic way to spend an afternoon! I really enjoyed getting to know the sakes a little better and you just could not beat the setting! Word may have gotten around about my second trip to the Ambassador’s Residence. You may even read about it in the papers!

astor_tim.jpgPlease join me!! I am teaching a sake 101 class at the new Astor center called the “Elements of Sake.” This class is a fun, informative and tasty way to dive into the world of premium saké.

UPDATE! Use  coupon code SAKE08 to get 50% discount off the cost of the April 18th Elements of Sake class! Don’t miss this…. Sign up now 

We’ll walk you through every step of the saké production process to show you how master brewers go from rice and water to what the Japanese call “the drink of the gods.” Next, we’ll demystify the various saké classifications to help you find the brews that fit your taste and your budget. Finally, we’d never leave out the delicious saké tastings that will help you evaluate and enjoy the ever-increasing variety of sakés that are becoming available. Kanpai!

This class takes place at Astor Center. Please visit the website to Register for this class

399 Lafayette St. NY, NY 10003 (At East 4th Street) PHONE: (212) 674-7501

astor_tim.jpgPlease join me!! I am teaching a sake 101 class at the new Astor center called the “Elements of Sake.” This class is a fun, informative and tasty way to dive into the world of premium saké. We’ll walk you through every step of the saké production process to show you how master brewers go from rice and water to what the Japanese call “the drink of the gods.” Next, we’ll demystify the various saké classifications to help you find the brews that fit your taste and your budget. Finally, we’d never leave out the delicious saké tastings that will help you evaluate and enjoy the ever-increasing variety of sakés that are becoming available. Kanpai!

This class takes place at Astor Center. Please visit the website to Register for this class

399 Lafayette St. NY, NY 10003 (At East 4th Street) PHONE: (212) 674-7501

Mr. Niichiro Marumoto, President of Chikurin Brewery from Okayama will be pouring Chikurin Fukamari Junmai, Karoyaka Junmai Ginjo, and Hou Hou Shu sparkling sake.

SAKAYA
324 E. 9th Street (Between 1st & 2nd Ave.)
New York, NY 10003
212.505.SAKE (7253)
www.sakayanyc.com

bon_nama_junmai_daiginjo.jpgI recently went to Kyo-ya (94 East 7th Street, 212-982-4140) and I have to say, it was one of the best Sake-food pairing restaurants I’ve been to in a while. This place rocks.

The first sake we tried was a fantastic Born Muroka Nama Genshu junmai Daiginjo (Fukui Prefecture., SMV +4, Acidity 1.4), which is aged at 0 Degrees C for 1 year. This gives the sake a complexity and depth that is really stunning. I would recommend this sake as a warm up to any Japanese meal. Fantastic.

sweet_potato_tempura.jpgThe next item of note was a really amazing sweet potato tempura. Sounds simple enough, but Kyo-ya rocks it. Scott and I shared a delicate sweet potato with a whisper light tempura crust. on the side, they offered salt and home-made soy sauce. It’s hard to explain how very very different home-made soy sauce can be to someone like me that grew up on the syrupy store bought stuff. Anyway, if you go to Kyo-ya, and you should, be sure to order this dish. Heaven on a plate.

yuki_no_bosha_nigori.jpgWhat does one pair with heaven on a plate? Well, I did my best and selected the heavenly Yuki No Bosha Junmai Ginjo Nigori (Akita Prefecture, SMV +1, Acidity 1.4). The touch of creaminess that this nigori offers offset the tempura perfectly. Both Nigori and tempura could be strong flavors, but here, they were so elegantly produced, it. really spoke to me.

The rest of our evening at Kyo-ya was a swirl of delicious tastes and flavors all mixed liberally with good sake. If you are looking for a special occasion restaurant or for a special reason to treat yourself, please run, don’t walk to Kyo-ya. If you see me there, I’ll be the guy with the three orders of Sweet Potato tempura in front of me.

facelift!Ok, I’m man enough to admit when I’ve had a little work done. Nobody wants to look frozen in a time warp and Urban Sake is no exception.

Today we’re launching our new website design with lots of new features. Check it out:

Upcoming Events Calendar! I’ve had a lot of requests for this one, so here you go. I’ll do my best to keep my list updated with all upcoming sake events I hear about. You can subscribe to the list via RSS, ICAL or GoogleCalendar.

Urban Sake Newsletter! I’ll be sending out a periodic newsletter to keep folks in touch with what’s happening at Urban Sake Headquarters and any Sake news and events. Please Sign up here.

My Sake Notebook! Peek inside my sake notebook and read profiles of the sakes I’ve been tasting. I’ll be expanding this list regularly.

Sake-lebrity Interviews! There are many fascinating people involved in the sake world. We may not have Celebrities but everyone involved with Sake is a Sake-lebrity in my book. Keep an eye on this section for some truly interesting upcoming interviews.

Of course, we’ll still have regular Blog Posts and Articles, Sake Videos, Updates to our Sake Interactive City Guides and all the usual fun stuff. Take a look around and let me know what you think! Kanpai!