kohiyama_san.JPGHokkaido is the northern most island of Japan, a huge place with lots of agriculture, open spaces and cold winters. It’s capital is Sapporo which calls to mind another certain alcoholic beverage more so than sake in the minds of most folks. However, one man is working to change all that.

His name is Mr. Shunsuke Kohiyama and he travels the world teaching about the special sake that comes from his brewery,taisetsu_junmai_ginjo.jpg the beautiful Takasago Sake Brewery in snowy Hokkaido. Kohiyama-san started his latest New York City tour at Sake Hana, where Manager Toshi-san hosted a fantastic pairing dinner and lecture evening. Kohiyama-san regaled the assembled sake disciples with stories about sake production, some history of Takasago brewery and lots of insider information on the workings of a brewery. Also, he answered lot of questions from the crowd and never lost his excitement for talking about sake! One of the biggest treats of the evening was the special competition sake from Takasago that we each got to sample. Fantastic! suuuuper smooth and just the right touch of richness.

I caught up with Kohiyama-san later in the weekend at a fun tasting event at Sakaya. This allowed for an in depth study of the two main sakes created by Takasago. First, I tried the Taisetsu “Big Snow” Junmai Ginjo. What makes this sake so interesting is that the brewery takes full advantage of the cold winter and actually builds an ice dome igloo where they age the sake at a stable temperature and protected from the elements. The taste is smooth and fragrant and you just can’t help but feel a delicious chill when you think of that ice igloo!

lecture.JPGThe next sake was a real stand out! We tasted the famous Takasago Ginga Shizuku “Divine Droplets” Junmai Daiginjo. Divine, indeed! This is a very well known and well respected Shizuku sake… that means instead of pressing the sake mash with a machine, they hang up bags and collect the free run sake that drips down by the force of gravity alone… all of course in the ice dome igloo! This “trickle sake” is highly prized as the creme de la creme of the sake world. It has a smoothness and wonderful complex fruitiness that must be experienced to be believed. Try it!

Reflecting now on Kohiyama-san’s lecture, I feel like I learned so much about Takasago! and I for one won’t be thinking about that “other brewed beverage” when I think about snowy Hokkaido! Ice dome sake all the way! Kanpai!

Compared to the coverage wine and beer get in the mainstream media, sake coverage often trails far behind. Every once in a while, though, sake gets its moment to shine. According to UrbanSake.com headquarter’s scientific calculations, sake mentions in the media are on a permanent upswing.

Case in point is the latest travel feature in the New York Times featuring a listing of sake bars of New York. In an article entitled “You Can Have Your Rice and Drink It, Too“, Reporter Seth Kugel outlines the sakes bars of note in the Big Apple. He features such hotspots and Sakagura, Decibel, Kasadela and Satsko’s. Now, if you’re a veteran NYC sake hound like myself, this is far from earth shattering news, however, for folks just getting into the Gotham sake scene, Seth’s recommendations are spot on. You could say they are all “required drinking” for first year students majoring in NYC Sake Studies.

I’m most happy that Seth didn’t divulge one of my very favorite hidden sake bar gems: Sake Bar Hagi’s!! That place is crowded enough. I guess I just divulged my favorite hidden sake bar gem… but that’s just between us, ok?

After you read the Times article and you want to kick it up a notch and discover more about sake in New York, check out our Interactive Sake Guide to New York City. With a little hard work and lots of field study research, you’ll be at the head of the New York City Sake class in no time.

anime.gifI am holding a lecture on Sake at the 2008 New York ANIME Festival. I held a similar Lecture at the Anime Festival last year and it was a lot of fun! This festival is a riot and if you happen to go, don’t miss my lecture!

CLICK HERE to buy your tickets to the New York ANIME Festival on-line.

Where:
Jacob K. Javits Convention Center
655 West 34th Street
New York, NY 10001

When: September 26th – 28th, 2008
Friday – 12 PM to 10 PM
Saturday – 10 AM to 10 PM
Sunday – 10 AM to 4 PM

NYAF’s Exhibition Hall closes at 6 PM on Friday and Saturday, but panels and screenings continue to 10.

Timothy Sullivan, a sake teacher, consultant, and writer, is proud to be a “Sake Samurai” — a title he was awarded in 2007 by the Japan Sake Brewer’s Association in recognition of his efforts to promote sake outside of Japan. Sullivan first began his career in the sake world by founding the first American blog devoted exclusively to all things sake: UrbanSake.com. What began as a labor of love is now a major online resource for sake information and education including city guides for sourcing great sake across the United States, a growing database of individual sake profiles, reviews, and online sake educational videos. Timothy is excited to share is his love of sake with anyone who is thirsting for knowledge about what the Japanese call “the drink of the gods”. Kanpai!

yageta_with_tim.JPGI recently got the chance to sit down with Mr. Junichi Yageta, who works for the very well regarded Fukumitsuya Sake Brewery.

Fukumitsuya Brewery, founded in 1625 in Kanazawa City in Ishikawa Prefecture, is the producer of the “Kagatobi” brand of sake – an emerging brand in the US market and very much work a look. I enjoy this sake tremendously and was therefore excited to learn more from Yageta-san.


Q: Yageta-san, Thank you for meeting with me today. Tell me, what are your responsibilities at Fukumitsuya Brewery?

Yageta-san: I’m actually a salesman for the company working in the Tokyo office. Recently, our Company opened up to overseas export and I was assigned to work in the Export Sales division.

Kagatobi_junmai_daiginjo.jpgQ: How did you get into the Sake Industry?

Yageta-san: As a student, when I was 22 or 23 years old, I took the Sake Sommelier exam with the SSI (Sake Service Institute). I really enjoyed sake and I thought this would be a good opportunity to learn about it. I then worked for 7 years in the hospitality industry at the Four Seasons hotel in Tokyo. When I was 30, I went to Australia for 1 year to learn English. When I returned to Japan I began looking for a job where I could use both my Sake and English skills. I found a job with the Fukumitsuya Brewery and have been working there for 2 or 3 years.

Q: Is there anything special in the nature or climate of Ishikawa Prefecture that enhances Katatobi sake?

Yageta-san: Ishikawa is really well known for the great water they have there. It’s very famous. This is why many famous breweries are found there.

Q: How long has Kagatobi been available in the US

Yageta-san: Kagatobi has only been available for the last 2 or 3 years. Our Importer, Nishimoto Trading Company, approached us about selling our sake in the United States. Previously, we didn’t have staff in place for export, but after some re-organization, we got our export going. Currently Kagatobi is not so well known, but we are working on becoming well recognized here.

kagatobi_junmai.JPGQ: If you were to have American visitors to your Brewery, what do you think would surprise them most about seeing the Sake making process up close?

Yageta-san: I think the water. We have a special well water at Kagatobi and there is a special bamboo tap at our well. You can actually drink the same water we use to make the sake from the tap. Many American visitors we get to our brewery take a picture of this and enjoy drinking this water. Also, local people come to our brewery with Tanks to fill up on our special water. Water is really important in the sake making process.

Q: How many people work at your brewery? is it big or small?

Yageta-san: It’s big as far as regional sake production is concerned. Some people do say our brewery is big for a “jizake” brewery. We staff about 100 people. To give an idea of the scale, last year Fukumitsuya Brewery was ranked around 30th~40th in production volume for all breweries in Japan. I think that is a big company. Also, our company is the biggest of the “junmai-Gura”, or brewery making only junmai “pure rice” sake. Visitors are usually surprised by the size of our production and storage facility when they come to see us.

****************

Thank you so much, Yageta-san, for taking the time for an UrbanSake.com Interview! Ganbatte for your work on getting Kagatobi sake well known in the US. I know you will have much success as I find Kagatobi to be delicious. I hope you have a chance to visit us again soon.

New York City is crowded, loud, humid and dirty. Why on earth would anyone want to live here? For me, the answer is easy. Where else in the U.S. can I get such easy access to top notch sake tastings?! A recent event I went to was simply fantastic and reminded me why I do what I do! Not surprisingly, Sakagura and Joto Sake Importers were involved!

brewers.JPGThe evening was a fantastic exploration of the sakes from two sake brands: Wataribune from Ibaraki Prefecture and Kasumi Tsuru from Hyogo Prefecture.

The evening started with Joto Sake’s President, Henry Sidel Introducing Mr. Yoshio Fukumoto, president of Kasumi Tsuru Brewery. Fukumoto-san introduced Each of his sakes.

First we enjoyed our “welcome sake” from Hyogo, namely the Kasumi Tsuru Shiboritate Nama Genshu Honjozo. This sake is a favorite of mine mostly because of it’s full throttle nature. Nama Genshu by nature is flavor-forward and the Kasumi Tsuru is no exception! If you want to try something with a real charge, or make a big impression – give this sake a try.

fukumoto.JPGNext we moved on to the core of the Kasumi Tsuru line. These sakes make up the type of sake this brewery is known for: Flavorful, smoky and full of texture. The wonderful Kasumi Tsuru Yamahai Ginjo is a great example of this. Wondrefully layered yet solid, this brew is a delight for folks who like more complex flavors to their sakes. I also fully enjoyed the Kasumi Tsuru Shiboritate Yamahai Junmai. The Yamahai production method comes across loud and clear with this sake. You’ll enjoy the earthy body and complex smoky flavors with each sip!

Also, I really enjoyed the Kasumi Tsuru Extra Dry Junmai. For folks who like a real dry twinge to their nihonshu, this extra dry doesn’t disappoint. It’s dry without losing it’s ability to stand on it’s own. The Kasumi Tsuru brand offers a wonderful “Suite” of sakes that are all unique but harmonize wonderfully!

yamauchi.JPGNext, Henry introduced Mr. Takaaki Yamauchi, President of Huchu Homare sake brewery, makers of the Wataribune and Taiheikai Brands of sake. The Big Story with Yamauchi-san’s sake is of course his efforts to revitalize the WatariBune strain of sake rice. Yamauchi-san personally oversaw the restoration of this lost rice strain and uses it in all of his “wataribune” brand sakes.

After a kick off with a fantastic unpasteurized sake, “Wataribune Shiboritate Nama Ginjo“, I tasted one of the fantastic treats of the evening – namely the Wataribune Junmai Daiginjo Nama. This is one of those mega rare junmai daiginjo nama sakes. Wonderfully delicate nama fruits on the palate with a mild viscosity that made it very elegant and easy to drink. Next, for a quick comparison, I got to taste the Pasteurized version of the same sake, the Wataribune Junmai Daiginjo. This sake is a rich and fruity daiginjo. Look for peach and honeydew on the palate and a nice long finish that stays with you sip for sip. fantastic!

tennyo_toiki_angel.jpgWe moved on next to the fantastic Watribune Junami Ginjo 55 and in rapid succession to the Taiheikai Tokubetsu Junmai. This sake is named “Taiehikai” which means Pacific Ocean. This ties into Ibaraki’s location on the pacific ocean side of Japan’s main island. Next was “Taiheikai Tokubetsu Junmai Nigori“. This sake was another favorite of the evening. I found it layered and exhibiting a wonderful texture. Yamauchi-san was a fantastic representative of his brand and an enthusiastic ambassador for Ibaraki.

A final treat of the evening was a “special sake” brought from Kasumi Tsuru called “tennyo no Toiki” (roughly translated as “Angel’s breath”… correct me if I’m wrong!) This sake was special indeed, but quite the hammer at the end of such a vast sake tasting. This sake is very, very special and was clocked in at an astounding 25% alcohol. This was achieved through a method of freezing the sake and siphoning off the alcohol from the frozen sake, thereby concentrating the alcohol and flavor. it was super rich, delicious and very strong. As close to shochu as you can get without crossing the line… and much more delicious in my opinion!

The food at Sakagura was top notch, too! There was a food pairing for each and every course! Delicious to say the least… I think the soft shell crab karaage was my favorite. what doesn’t that pair well with?

This evening did indeed prove to me why I love New York so much! I love it because so many of the fantastic and varied flavors of Japanese sake come to me! If that isn’t proof of Angel’s Breath – I don’t know what is!

tim_photo.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

tim_photo.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

Imada_san.jpgI had the great pleasure of meeting Miho Imada, Master Brewer for the Imada Sake Brewery, for the first time at Sake Hana back in 2006 and again in April 2008. Imada-san’s sake is a splendid example of hand crafted Hiroshima Sake. There are two Imada Sakes available in the U.S. currently: First, Imada Fukucho Junmai Ginjo (aka “Moon on the Water”) which is a direct sake with a full nose and body while retaining it’s hiroshima softness. very enjoyable. Second, Imada Fukucho “Biho” Junmai Ginjo, which I found to be lighter with a long finish and a delightful light fruit flavor on the palate. I was honored when Imada-san agreed to answer some of my questions about her sake.

Q: Hiroshima has a good reputation as an area for good sake. What about Hiroshima is special that makes such good sake? Rice? water? climate?

Imada-san: One of the reasons is that this is where they invented the method to brew sake with soft water (soft water brewing), which laid the base for ginjoshu (quality sake brewed from the finest rice) as it is today. And a group of craftsmen, called Hiroshima Toji, was organized and has carried on this tradition to the present day.

Until then, hard water with high mineral content had been used in sake brewing. But the water in Hiroshima is soft water. It’s susceptible to contamination due to the slow alcoholic fermentation caused by the lack of minerals. In order to overcome this weakness, techniques such as extended fermentation in a cool temperature were invented by a craftsman named Senzaburo Miura of Akitsu Town, the town where Fukucho is located.

imada_san.jpgIt was around the year 1900. The sake made by the soft water brewing method took first place at the First Nation-wide Contest in 1904, and its name became known all over the country. These techniques have contributed to a break-through advancement in Japanese sake brewing, laying the base for ginjoshu as it is today. It’s for this reason that Akitsu Town is called Home of Ginjoshu.

Those who learned this soft water brewing method were called Akitsu-toji (Hiroshima-toji), out of which came many great craftsmen. The successors of the Akitsu-toji have continued their efforts and still maintain their tradition of passion for sake brewing today.

Here is an interesting topic:
Satake, the Japanese enterprise who proudly has a 97% market share of rice mill machines in the U.S., is located in Hiroshima. This company, which is now of a global scale, was one created to mill the ingredient rice to become the sake that was made by using the soft water brewing method.

In the early days when the soft water brewing method was invented, rice was milled by water mills and manpower. Rice milling by water mills did not fill the demand of sake. So Mr. Satake who was a railroad engineer developed the first rice mill machine using mechanical power. This is the how the Satake company became the business as it is today. This story also attests to the prosperity of Hiroshima as Home of Ginjoshu.

Q: I understand it is not common for a woman to work in sake brewing as a Master Brewer. How did you become a master brewer? Are people
sometimes surprised to learn you are the master sake brewer?

imada_shuzo.jpgImada-san: I took a training in theory and practice (of sake brewing) for 4 months at the trainee program with the National Tax Administration Agency Research Institute of Brewing (currently the independent company Integral Research Institute of Alcoholic Beverages).
Then I worked with the previous toji for 10 years before I took over. About 15 years ago when I went back to the brewery there were few women working there, but there are more now. I think it’s largely because now with better facilities and conditions there is less physical labor and we have workers’ systems instead of migrant labor. But still, they are few.

Q: Do you think sake has a strong future in the US? Do you find Americans to be enthusiastic about sake in general?

Imada-san: Sake is as indispensable as wine for Japanese food. I believe the future is bright if they can enjoy the authentic Japanese food and if we don’t lose our passion for making good sakes.

Q: What is one thing that you think would surprise Americans if they saw sake brewing process in person?

Imada-san: The beauty and the texture of the brewer’s rice that’s 40% or 50% polished, and the fragrance of it when it’s beginning to steam. The fragrance and the sweetness of rice malt… The fragrance of choice draft fermenting.

Q: What do you look for in a good sake? Which Imada sake is your favorite and why?

Imada-san: To provide a delicious and happy moment that you can share and enjoy life with your family, your friends, and your loved ones. The sakes I’ve made myself are all so dear to me that I cannot choose just one!

**********

Imada-san, I can’t thank you enough for all your insight into Hiroshima and the life of a Master Brewer! I know I speak for many fans of your sake when we say “Thank You, and keep up the good work!!” in your efforts to make your wonderful sake.

takemura2.jpgPrestige Sake Association Importers had another wonderful tasting event to introduce sakes in New York. This time, the focus was on an array of summer nama sake along with two outstanding breweries in the Prestige portfolio: Umenishiki and Tsukasabotan.

I started tasting with the Tsukasabotan sakes and had the pleasure of meeting Tsukasabotan Brewery President Mr. Takemura, who was personally introducing his sake. I started with the glorious Tsukasabotan Senchu Hassaku Tokubetsu Junmai. tsukasabotan_fuin2.jpgThis sake is one I have poured for sake fans myself at my first Sake Samurai Tasting at Sakaya. Senchu Hassaku did not disappoint. I like to describe this sake as having an overall dry presence but with a depth and complexity you don’t usually find in dry junmai sake. And this sake has the coolest label you’ll see. safety orange always catches my eye.

Takemura-san also introduced me to some other fantastic sake. I tried the Tsukasabotan Fu-in Junmai Ginjo with great interest. Again here the packaging was unique! Fu-in exhibited a wonderfully balanced acidity and light fruits across the palate. It really lives up to it’s fancy pants packaging. Get out there and try it if you can find it.

I also tasted the mesmerizing Tsukasabotan Junmai Daiginjo sake, milled to an amazing 40% as well as the Tsukasabotan Junmai, which I found to be dry and structured, which I see pairing well with heartier foods. This Junmai also comes across with a hint of savory Umami, too.

Next I tried the sake of Umenishikicoming from Ehime Prefecture and was introduced to Brewery President Mr. Koichiro. He poured me his very best sake first and I found myself swept away by Umenishiki Junmai Daiginjo. I felt this sake was quite complex with perhaps a touch higher acidity you may find in other daiginjos. simply delicious… look for the red box with the gold kanji!

koichiro.JPGI also sampled two other Umenishiki standouts, the very dry Umenishiki Oh Kara Junmai as well as the well balanced but higher-in-alcohol Umenishiki Hitosuji Junmai Ginjo Genshu. I don’t know many sakes from Ehime, so this has to be my very favorite!

Last but not least I indulged in one of my favorite activities: savoring cold nama sake on a hot summer day. Prestige didn’t disappoint! I tried a number of fantastic namas including a rare crown jewel of the nama world… namely the Umenishiki Junmai Daiginjo Nama. umenishiki.jpgI love this sake! an ultra rare nama (unpasteurized) junmai daiginjo, the palate on this sake is alive with tropical fruits and melon. with the easy to enjoy smooth countenance you would expect from a ultra premium sake.

I also quiet enjoyed the easy to drink Ohyama Tokubetsu Junmai Nama as well as Otokoyama Sasaori Tokubetsu Junmai Nama, an intriguing, delightful sake. Quite fruity and more of a sweetness on the palate than an SMV +5 would lead you to believe. A whisper of nigori adds a fantastic subtle texture to this nama.

After I sampled just about everything, I glanced at my watch and saw I was due at my Japanese Language class. So I said my goodbyes and headed out into the summer afternoon to meet my tutor. I think the Tsukasa-botan, Umenishiki and summer nama sakes washing across my brain made me more fluent in Japanese than ever! Hey, I’d chose them over flashcards anytime.

Kanpai!

rick_hiroko.JPGSAKAYA is already a New York City landmark for the emerging Sake community in the City. Owners and my dear friends Rick Smith and Hiroko Furukawa have been running the shop now for over 6 months with great success, working 7 days a week to keep New Yorkers supplied with top quality nihonshu.

Their schedule keeps them busy, but Rick and Hiroko were very gracious when I asked them to take the time to answer a few questions about their take on the sake biz in the Big Apple.

Q: What on earth inspired you both to open a sake shop in Manhatttan?

A: We love sake and couldn’t find a place that offered both a large selection and the expertise to answer questions. We were shocked that NYC had no such shop and given the success of True Sake in SF, a much smaller market, we thought that there was an opportunity to do something unique to further the enjoyment of premium sake in a city that embraces Japanese food and culture in so many other ways.

Q: Was there any one sake for each of you that pushed you over the edge into sake-mania?
A:
Like so many of our customers, I can’t honestly remember one in particular…although, Kikusui “Chrysanthemum Mist” Junmai Ginjo and Gokyo Junmai were two of my early favorites (after the initial discovery of Wakatake “Onigoroshi” Daiginjo). But it may have been Tsukasabotan Senchu Hassaku which we found to be our first true favorite together that actually pushed us over the “edge…”

Q: Since you’ve opened SAKAYA, you’re surrounded by sake all day. Are there any new sakes that you’ve each discovered that have really caught your attention? (and why?)
A:
Unfortunately, we fall in love with new sakes all the time. We probably have a new favorite every month…our latest discoveries are Tsukasabotan “Fu-in” Junmai Ginjo (Kochi) and Naraman Muroka Junmai (Fukushima). Fu-in has a lovely nose with notes of grapefruit and banana but is light as a feather with a clean, dry finish. Naraman is just a bit richer with a touch of peachy sweetness. Both sake have enough acidity to make them great matches for food too.

Q: Since you opened in December ’07, what has been the most pleasant surprise of running your own sake shop?
A:
Without a doubt it is the overwhelming enthusiasm for sake that we’ve experienced from virtually everyone who has walked into the store. We knew from doing our research that all the data suggested a growing interest in sake but there’s nothing like seeing and hearing it directly from customers.

display.JPGQ: What has been the biggest unexpected challenge?
A:
It’s funny but the challenge that we didn’t anticipate was the need to keep our own enthusiasm in check. We’d love to carry so many different sake but practically, we have to rein ourselves in. We don’t want to overwhelm customers with too many choices. As it is, we’ve increased from the 85 sake that we started with to around 110. That number varies somewhat as there are some seasonal namazake that we only stock for the first month of their existence to ensure product freshness.

Q: There are several hundred sakes imported into the U.S… how do you decide which sakes to carry at SAKAYA?
A:
It is very difficult. We taste and discuss everything before making a decision on each sake. And, we don’t always agree. We constantly strive for balance among a number of factors; the number of Junmai v. Ginjo v. Daiginjo (and price points within each), representation from the various regions/prefectures of Japan, and popularity among both American and Japanese consumers to name several.

Q: What do you predict for the future of Sake in the US? are we headed mainstream?
A:
We are at a critical point in sake’s brief life in the U.S. After many years of having only limited (if any) exposure to premium sake, Americans’ awareness of it has begun to take root and as a result, we have now gotten the full attention of the sake brewing community in Japan. Since sake consumption has declined in Japan over the last 30 years, the U.S. represents a tremendous opportunity for brewers. If we in the U.S.sake community (importers, distributors, writers, restaurateurs, retailers) work closely together with them to create more opportunities for consumers to taste and learn about this exquisite beverage, we will see it become a beverage of choice for many Americans.

***********

Thank you both so much for taking the time today for an UrbanSake interview. SAKAYA is a real gem and we’re lucky to have you two at the helm of the first all-sake shop in New York. Your hard work is appreciated and I know many new sake fans are being born each week on East 9th Street. Ganbatte and keep up the fantastic work!

SAKAYA is located at:
324 East 9th Street
New York, NY 10003
212.505.7253 (SAKE)

Monday – Saturday / Sunday
12 PM – 8 PM / 12 PM – 6 PM

sakenomi.gifCombining just a few of our fav-o-rite things, we’re excited to be hosting the 2nd edition of “Triple S” Night on Saturday, April 18 from 7 p.m.

The three “S”s are, of course, premium saké, sushi, and sumo. (The fourth, unmentioned “s” would be stereotypically Japanese.)

Saké Nomi is the source of the saké, and our favorite down-home Japanese restaurant, Tsukushinbo, will be our sushi vendor.

The sumo part of the program will be the 2003 documentary “Sumo East and West,” which chronicles the ascendancy of American wrestlers from Hawaii to the pinnacle of this ultra-traditional Japanese sport.

We’re still finalizing things on the sushi end, but cost for this special event will be $25-$30/person and will include a sushi “bento” set and one glass of saké. As is appropriate, the featured saké will be Nishinoseki “Champion of the West,” and all the other selections from the weekly menu will also be available.

Though we will be making arrangements to bring in some extra seats, space for this event will be fairly limited. If you’re interested in joining us, please RSVP as soon as possible, and no later than April 16 by contacting Johnnie at the shop via phone (206-467-SAKE) or e-mail (johnnie@sakenomi.us).

We hope you can join us!
Sake Nomi
76 South Washington Street
Seattle, Washington 98104
Tel: 206-467-SAKE
http://www.sakenomi.us

sakenomi.gifSaké 101: “The Basics,” or “Why Does This Stuff Taste So Good?” will cover all the essential information you need to enhance your saké drinking experience. From how premium saké is graded, to the brewing process and beyond, this fun, casual evening will put you “in the know” regarding this mystical, magical beverage and, quite possibly, change your life!

Our next session of this course will take place on Tuesday, July 15 @ 7:00 p.m. Cost for the course will be $60/person and will include all saké, appetizers, and course materials.

During the class, we’ll cover all the basics during the lecture/video portion, and then we’ll let the saké do the talking during our tasting of 3 different selections.

Class size will be limited to 12-15 people, and spaces will be held in the order we receive the reservations.

If you’re interested in joining us, please reserve your spot as soon as possible, and no later than Saturday, July 12.

To reserve your spot, please contact us at (206) 467-SAKE or info@sakenomi.us.

Sake Nomi
76 South Washington Street
Seattle, Washington 98104
Tel: 206-467-SAKE
http://www.sakenomi.us

sakenomi.gifHave you ever been mystified and confused by the kanji on a saké bottle label?

When partaking of a delicious brew at a Japanese restaurant or friend’s house, did you ever want to politely say “Thank you, sir, may I have another?” in Japanese? (Tom Cruise, suffering from the DTs in “Last Samurai,” wasn’t exactly genteel.)

Let’s face it, drinking in another language is WAY cool, and now’s your chance to pick up some “survival drinking Japanese” from patient, knowledgeable, convivial hosts.

You are cordially invited to join us at Saké Nomi for “Saké Japanese” on Saturday, July 26 @ 7 p.m.

We’ll clue you in on how to interpret some key saké-related kanji, and shed some light on Japanese drinking traditions and etiquette. If you’ve ever wondered how to say or write something in Japanese, we’ll do our best to cover that, too.

In fact, Taiko will be pleased to enlighten you regarding some of the more poetic Japanese expressions, such as the words for “sleeping sand” and “ear wax.” To quote Marge Simpson from the classic episode “One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish”:
“Japanese is such a beautiful language.”

Cost for the class will be $60/person, and will include all saké, appetizers, and materials.

If you’re interested in attending, please reserve your spot as soon as possible, and no later than Sunday, July 20.

To reserve your spot, please contact us at (206) 467-SAKE or info@sakenomi.us.

Sake Nomi
76 South Washington Street
Seattle, Washington 98104
Tel: 206-467-SAKE
http://www.sakenomi.us

kaga_tobi.jpgWhere’s the Fire? Well, for the coolest dudes in Edo-period Japan it was where ever you would find the Kaga-tobi, or the Kaga Clan Firemen. These firefighters were viewed by the general public as masculine and tough but above all they were greatly admired for their bravery at fighting fires in a time when Edo buildings were constructed mainly of wood, bamboo and rice paper, making them susceptible to devastating fires.

The mythos of the dashing firefighter survives to this day, and Fukumitsuya Sake Brewery located in Japan’s beautiful Ishikawa Prefecture, used this idea as an inspiration for their flagship product being imported into the US: “Kagatobi Sake

Kagatobi_junmai_daiginjo.jpgKabatobi brand sake is one of several brands produced by the Fukumitsuya Brewery. The Brand’s leader is the scrumptious Kagatobi Ai Junmai Daiginjo. Kagatobi Ai is a study in what puts the “dai” in “daiginjo”. I find this brew to really be a textbook example of what makes daiginjo near and dear to my heart. It’s smooth on the palate and the finish lingers, evocative of the soft essence of mild fruit. The taste is a testament to how well crafted this sake is. Light. Lovely. Luscious. Trust me.

Kagatobi_junmai_ginjo.jpgNext is Kagatobi Junmai Ginjo. The Junmai Ginjo grade in Kagatobi’s lineup is another study in capturing the essence of it’s class. It’s full frontal Junmai Ginjo. What I especially like about this one is that the brewers surfaced lovely hints of rice through in the nose and palate, balanced with a medium body and soft texture. Being neither too dry, nor too sweet Kagatobi is a good match for folks who like their sakes easy drinking and smooth. A bit more body than the lighter Diaginjo, this Junami Ginjo is a fan favorite!

kagatobi_junmai.JPGThe market for very dry sake is vast and I think many people gravitate to extra dry sake to push the envelope of their sake tastes. Kagatobi rises to the challenge with their entry into the “super dry” category: Kagatobi Cho Karakuchi Junmai Yamahai. This karakuchi wear’s it’s +12 SMV rating as a badge of honor. Also made using the traditional Yamahai method, the Cho Karakuchi is by far the most full bodied, broad and robust of the kagatobi sakes currently available in the US. Again, no punches get pulled with this sake – you wanted Super Dry Yamahai – you got it. An excellent example of the classification without being rough or insensitive. If you don’t think you like dry sake, or if you think dry is your only choice, give this selection a try and you’ll be in for a pleasant surprise. I think this sake would also take kindly to a gentle warming in the cold months.

I get the sense that the Kagatobi Brewers are exacting practitioners of their art. They seem to be aiming for purebred examples of each sake classification they produce, and by my estimation they succeed. For American consumers, this makes the Kagatobi portfolio an excellent line to study. And just as the people of Edo stood in admiration of the Kaga Firefighters of yore, you gotta give this brand it’s props! Oh, and a final fire safety tip for everyone: Always we aware of your nearest emergency exit… and be sure to grab your Kagatobi on the way out.

sakaya.gifSakaya Prestige Summer Nama Tasting
SAKAYA : 324 E. 9th Street (Between 1st & 2nd Ave.)
New York, NY 10003
212.505.SAKE (7253)
www.sakayanyc.com

sakaya.gifJoto Sake Tasting at Sakaya
SAKAYA : 324 E. 9th Street (Between 1st & 2nd Ave.)
New York, NY 10003
212.505.SAKE (7253)
www.sakayanyc.com

sakaya.gifWorld Sake Tasting at Sakaya
SAKAYA : 324 E. 9th Street (Between 1st & 2nd Ave.)
New York, NY 10003
212.505.SAKE (7253)
www.sakayanyc.com