MOTO-I Monthly Sake Seminar

DATE: Saturday, December 6th, 2008

TIME: 9 AM – 5 PM

LOCATION: at MOTO-I
2940 Lyndale Ave. South
Minneapolis, MN 55408
612-821-NAMA
info@moto-i.com

Cost: $150.00 – Includes Training manual, brewery tour, lunch and snacks,
and a tasting of over 20 different sakes to understand grade, styles, and
flavor profiles. Give yourself or someone you know this experience as a Holiday Present!

Click Here to Register

Tomita Brewery

Tomita Brewery

Ok, Pop Quiz!!! Name one attraction of note in Japan’s Shiga Prefecture… Stumped? Well, I was too, until my visit to outstanding Tomita Brewery, located in the small town of Kinomoto, Shiga Prefecture.

Tomita Brewery is an exceptionally small brewery that has attained global reach when they began exporting their sake to the United States. From Kyoto I had to take 2 local trains to get deep into Shiga countryside and was met by Shichihonyari Executive Director, Mr. Yasunobu Tomita. Tomita-san is a young guy whose enthusiasm for sake is impressive. There is certainly no shortage of hard work for anyone running a sake brewery, but Tomita-san has taken on these challenges with self assurance and confidence.

shichihonyariThe “Seven Spearsmen” Brand
Tomita-san’s The flagship sake is Shichihonyari, which translates as the “seven spearsmen”. This name honors 7 samurai warriors who helped secure victory for the famous Japanese War Lord Hideyoshi in 1583. In the US today, we have access to two delicious Shichihonyari sakes. First is their most famous export the Shichihonyari Junmai. This sake uses locally grown Tamazakae sake rice. It’s fantastic both chilled and heated and offers a robust, truly artisan hand crafted sake experience. Not to be missed. Oh, and you can’t beat the cool Samurai design on the label.

Another sake we can get from Tomita-san is the Shichihonyari Shizuku Junmai Daiginjo. An exquisite Shizuku or “drip” sake, it’s an elegant treat of light fruits on the palate a wisp of crispness that gives it a grounded backbone and good balance.

Tomita-san with His Vintage Fune

Tomita-san with His Vintage Fune

Artisanal Spirit
The Brewery tour began with a walk through of the facility. One of the first things that I noticed was Tomita Shuzo was kickin’ it old school. They were not using the latest computer driven gizmos to make their sake, but had simple old fashioned tools that allow them to craft sake more by hand. One of my favorite examples of this is their “fune” or sake press. The Tomita family has a vintage wooden fune that is beautiful to look at and helps their sake keep a true artisanal spirit. It’s true… they make their sake the old fashioned way… they earn it.

shichi_signAfter a tour of his brewery facility Tomita-san took me out to lunch and for a visit to a nearby rice field. The day was spectacular and I got stunning views of beautiful Lake Biwa, circling hawks, and the low rolling hills of Shiga. Fantastic!

I can’t thank Tomita-san enough for hosting me on this wonderful day in Shiga. I won’t soon forget all his kindness. Also thank you to the entire Tomita family for such outstanding hospitality. I hope I can return someday, but until then, I’ll keep giving my pop quizzes about Shiga to help spread the word of the “Seven Spearsmen”. Kanpai!

Mr. Ujita, Omachi Rice and me

Mr. Ujita, Omachi Rice and me

Arriving in Kyoto always brings back special memories for me. this was my original destination on my very first trip to Japan. It goes without saying that it’s a beautiful and historic city, but on this visit I was able to discover another aspect of Kyoto that endeared the city to me even more.

Today I was the guest of Mr. Hiroshi Ujita, the president of Tamanohikari Sake Brewery, located in the Fushimi district of Kyoto. Tamanohikari is translated as “brilliant jade” What’s in a name? “Tama” signifies the polished gem and the spirit of the sun goddess, and “Hikari” stands for “brilliance and prosperity”. This is a very well known brand in Japan and several of it’s sakes are also widely distributed here in the states.

Omachi Junmai Daiginjo

Omachi Junmai Daiginjo

Omachi
You can’t talk about Tamanohikari without a mention of Omachi sake rice. Omachi is sometimes called the “grandfather” sake rice as it was used in cross breeding a new and very popular strain called Yamada Nishiki. Omachi is not used extensively in a world dominated by Yamada Nishiki, however, the folks at Tamanohikari Brewery have a strong belief in the particular charms of Omachi rice and use it widely in their sakes. Omachi is more difficult to grow than other rices as it grows taller, but dedicated farmers keep the faith and continue to cultivate and Breweries like Tamanohikari continue to make distinctive and delicious sakes from Omachi rice.

Omachi is used in some of the wonderful Tamanohikari sakes that are for sale in the US. I’m thinking particularly of their flagship Tamanohikari Junmai Daiginjo Omachi, a bewitching and elegant, yet grounded junmai daiginjo. Another favorite is the Tamanohikari Yamahai Junmai Ginjo, which pairs beautifully with umami laden dishes and is a foodies best friend. delicious! In addition, the Tamanohikari Tokusen Pack Junmai Ginjo

Rice Milling Machine

Rice Milling Machine

Historial Yet Alive with Activity
Upon my arrival at Tamanokikari Brewery, I was warmly greeted by Mr. Ujita and their master Toji Tsuneo Ueda who both guided me on a tour of the Brewery facility. After we put on our lab coats and hair nets, we marched around the block through the residential neighborhood to the milling facility. Ujita-san showed me the many computer controlled milling machines that run around the clock and process large quantities of milled rice and rice flour every day. I learned a bit how to read the computerized control panel and monitor the target and current milling rate. A marvel of engineering!

After walking back to the main facility, we forged right ahead with the rest of the tour. The Beautiful brewery building was obviously historical, yet alive with activity and fully operational. The beautifully well worn wooden beams supporting the roof expecially caught my attention. One beam was what seemed to be a solid tree trunk. After inspecting the koji room, I got a rare treat as Ujita-san lead me to a magnafying glass to look closely at the koji mold growing on the rice. It was really astounding to see for myself what I’d so often seen in pictures, real hair like strands of mold growing on the rice! (um, You know you’re a sake geek when… you get excited by koji mold)

Carefully Tended Moto

Carefully Tended Moto

Hello, Moto
Next, I toured the room where the moto or yeast started was being made. The kurabito or brewery workers obviously lavished a lot of attention on this starter. it’s the genesis of the main mash and rightfully deserves a lot of attention. Tamanohikari uses buckets of ice lowered into the moto to control the temperature which is of utmost importance during the yeast cultivation.

In the brewing facility, I was invited to peer into the sake brewing tanks themselves. Both Ueda-san and Ujita-san explained about watching the bubbles produced by the mash as a way to read the progress of the brewing process. We looked at a tank that had a roaring foam and also a tank that had a few light bubbles each working as a road map of sorts for the Toji, helping him decide on next steps for every batch. The hefty aromas wafting up from the moromi (main mash) were quite startling. Ujita-san encouraged me to really take a big whiff. It smelled of ripe fruit salad with notes of cooked rice and rising bread.

Sake Mash

Peering Down into the Brewing Vat

After the tour, I luckily was invited to taste a range of Tamanohikari brews. Not only did the sakes taste fresh, but I felt I better understood “omachi” flavor and why Tamanohikari Brewery is so dedicated to this rice. It defines their signature flavor and gives a wonderful structure and grounded depth of flavor to all their delicious sakes. My deep and sincere thanks to Ujita-san for the the tour of his brewery and Kyoto, and for his dedication to helping people like me better understand sake. Also, special thanks to Ueda-san and all the workers at the brewery for making me feel so welcome.

I felt so honored to see the inner workings and living history of such an esteemed sake brewery such as I did today. Taking an in depth look at this one place not only expanded my appreciation for Tamanohikari, but also for Kyoto and for Sake itself. To paraphrase the Grinch, “…In Kyoto they say, his love for sake grew three sizes that day.”

TAMANOHIKARI Sake Brewing Co., Ltd.
545 Higashisakai – Machi Fushimi-ku Kyoto 612-8066 Japan
TEL: 81-75-611-5000 FAX: 81-75-601-0004
www.sake.com

TakahachiJoin Kakatobi Week!
Come to Takahachi Tribeca for a fantastic sake dinner featuring Wonderful Kagatobi Sake! Not to be missed!

$80 per person
Takahachi
145 Duane Street
(Between Church & West Broadway)
New York, NY 10013
212-571-1830

ISEJoin Kagatobi week!
ISE restaurant will host a wonderful sake dinner featuring Kagatobi Sake.
$70 per person

ISE RESTAURANT
56 Pine Street
New York, NY 10005
Tel: 212-785-1600
Fax: 212-785-7660
Serving Hours Mon – Fri (Lunch) 11:30 ~ 2:15 (Dinner) 5:00 ~ 9:30

Join Kagatobi week!!
The fine folks from Kagatobi sakes are holding a sake tasting at Astor Wines and Spirits! This same night, please join our Fantastic Elements of Sake class at Astor Center.

This tasting takes place at Astor Wines & Spirits
De Vinne Press Building
399 Lafayette (at East 4th St.)
New York, NY 10003

Phone: 212-674-7500
Fax: 212-673-1210

Store Hours
Monday – Saturday
9:00am – 9:00pm

Sunday
12:00pm – 6:00pm

Join Kakatobi Week!
There is a tasting at Landmark Wine and Sake of Kagatobi’s best. Come be a part of Kagatobi week!

Landmark Wine and Sake
167 West 23rd street
New York NY 10011
212-242-2323

sake-hana.jpgJoin Kagatobi Week!

Mr. Yageta from Fukumitsuya sake brewery will come from Japan to teach a sake class on kagatobi!
Classes will be held once in every month and are open to anyone aged 21 and over. Although there will be five classes in total, you are welcome to sign up for any individual class that interests you.

The classes are designed to be enjoyable and informative and are a great way to meet other people who enjoy sake and learning about sake.

The first class will be held at Sake Hana on Saturday, December 13 at 6pm.
Class I: Some Interesting Sake Questions
[December 13, 6pm] $65

1. Which glass is best for drinking sake?
2. Why do some breweries make only Junmai-shu?
3. What is the special character of sake from Ishikawa Prefecture?
4. What is a seasonal sake?
5. Mirin? Amazake? A friend of sake?
6. What is “Yamahai”?

Sake Hana
212-327-0582
265 East 78th Street
(Between 1st & 2nd Aves)

Join Kagatobi week!

Special sake tasting event at Sake Bar Decibel!
$60 per person

Sake Bar Decibel
212-979-2733
240 East 9th Street
(between 2nd & 3rd)
New York NY

Beautiful Marumoto Brewery

Beautiful Marumoto Brewery

My first trip to visit Marumoto Brewery can only be described as spectacular. Makers of the famous Chikurin Brand of sake, Marumoto brewery is nestled beautifully in the low rolling hills of Okayama Prefecture.

Brewery President, Mr. Marumoto explained that the brewery was founded in 1867 at the end of Edo period and has been producing sake since then. However, this brewery isn’t just famous for it’s sake. The wooden framed brewery complex is registered as an “Important Cultural Property” by Japanese goverment, similar to the National Register of Historic Places here in the US.

Growing Your Own Rice

Marumoto-san Explains Sake Rice

Marumoto-san Explains Sake Rice

The vast majority of sake breweries in Japan buy their sake rice from farmers, but Marumoto brewery is going the extra step and growing its own. Sake really gets its start in the rice field, so Marumoto-san started our tour right there.

We visited several of his rice paddies around and toured some fields that had different levels of fertilzer, and some that were certified organic. The more I saw, the more I realized how dedicated Marumoto-san was to creating the perfect rice for his sake.

Sake Rice Steaming

Just Steamed Sake Rice

Just Steamed Sake Rice

After our tour of rice out in the field, it was time to hit the brewery and see what could be made with this the beautiful rice in a master’s hands. The buildings on the brewery compound are old with a stunning use of old wooden beams like you rarely see. This was a place where it is quite easy to envision what life at the brewery could have been like in the 19th century.

Rice Goes Into the Tank

Rice Goes Into the Tank

We started looking at the rice being washed, soaked and steamed. After steaming, the rice is lifted by hydraulics and scooped by a kurabito onto a cooling conveyor belt below. This cooling step is important. Rice needs to be cooled before going into the koji room or before going into the mash.

That is what was happening on the day I was at Marumoto Brewery. Once collected after this brief cooling, the rice is transported to the main mash vat. How do that do that? Like many other breweries, they use a flexible tube to blow the rice along. This tube gets stuck through the floor and right into the top of the vat on the floor below. After the rice addition, the mash gets stirred into the vat using a long pole. Maruomoto-san and his staff demonstrated how this mixing was done and I tried it myself, but I was a sorry excuse for a kurabito. Maybe after a few months of practice could I get it down pat.

In addition to the steaming and adding rice to the main mash, I also got to see the Koji room, the mash pressing area, the milling room and also the bottling and storage facility. It was especially interesting to see the large refrigerated room where the Chikurin Hou Hou Shu Sparkling Junmai sake undergoes its second fermentation in the bottle. A lot of New Year’s Eve toasting starts right here!

Dinner with a Surprise
A report on my visit to Chikurin wouldn’t be complete without a mention of the very special dinner Maruomoto-san invited us to. At the start of our meal, a rice paper screen opened at one end of the banquet room, and we were treated to a demonstration of “Shiki Hocho”, or the centries old and elaborate fish carving ritual that allows the chef to use a knife and chopsticks but not touch the fish directly.

Viewing the Rare Art of Shiki Hocho

Viewing the Rare Art of Shiki Hocho


All the guests at dinner sat in stunned silence as the ritual proceeded and every movement was deliberate and beautiful. Before I knew it, the sea bream on the table was carved into an elaborate shape of real beauty. This method of fish preparation was done for both the emperor and shogunate starting as early as 895 A.D. I was extremely impressed by the beauty of this and I felt so fortunate to have seen it myself. I know this is something that even few Japanese have seen in person. Am I a lucky guy, or what?!.

Chikurin Sakes

With Mr. Marumoto

With Mr. Marumoto

Okayama was impressive in so many ways and my time with Marumoto-san at Chikurin was even more so. I was able to see up close and in person where these fantastic sakes are made. From the bestselling and gently sweet Hou Hou Shu Sparkling Junmai mentioned above and the rose and hibiscus infused Hana Hou Hou Shu Sparkling Junmai to the incense inspired deep flavors of Chikurin Fukamari Junmai

From the once pasteurized, light and lovely Chikurin Karoyaka Junmai Ginjo to the rich and wonderfully silky smooth texture of the Chikurin Taoyaka Junmai Daiginjo, I saw first hand how these sakes are a true labor of love. I can’t thank Maruotomo-san enough for the wonderful hospitality and tremendous learning during my time at Chikurin. I had experiences I will always remember! Thank you!

Reflecting back on this time, I can’t help but think how much more enthusiasm and appreciation I have for sake with each brewery I visit. It’s magic what they do at places like Marumoto Brewery. Thanks for the magic you bring to all of us.

Chikurin at Dusk

Chikurin at Dusk

Hakkaisan Brewery In Niigata

Hakkaisan Brewery In Niigata

My next stop on my Japan 2008 tour was a special one! I was headed for the birthplace of the sake that sparked my interest in Nihon-shu in the first place: Hakkaisan Brewery in Niigata.

Longtime readers of my site will know that it was Hakkaisan’s Junmai Ginjo sake that got me so addicted devoted to sake. Hakkaisan is a well known brand that is widely distributed in Japan and abroad, but still very much hand crafted with great attention to details and quality.

Hakkaisan Ginjo

Hakkaisan Ginjo

There are three main sakes to look out for, all of which are simply fantastic. One of my very favorite sakes in the whole world is the Hakkaisan Ginjo. This is an alcohol added sake that has just a touch of richness and delightful floral character in the aroma while still staying true to it’s lighter style Niigata heritage.

Hakkaisan Honjozo is another delicious brew. This sake is more hearty and can pair well with many foods and it also delightful when gently warmed. And of course, as I mentioned above, the Hakkaisan’s Junmai Ginjo is the first premium sake I ever had, and it caught my attention with good reason. It’s crisp and clean style is really elegant and a delight to drink anytime.

Needless to say I was totally jazzed about visiting this brewery and seeing how Hakkaisan did their thing. I took an early morning train into Niigata’s Urasa Station and was picked up and whisked off to Hakkaisan headquarters for a full day consisting of a tour of the brewery facilities lead by Hakkaisan’s Toji, a meeting with Hakkaisan Production staff and finally a lunch with Hakkaisan President Mr. Nagumo.

Hakkaisan Mountain

Hakkaisan Mountain

My first impression of this area was it’s astounding natural beauty. Everywhere I turned, I saw truly beautiful vistas of stunning Niigata mountains crowned by the sacred eight peaks of Mount Hakkai. I couldn’t help but envision the area covered in layers of snow as it is so often pictured in the winter months. This beautiful landscape is home to some beautiful sake and I was about to see how it was made!

Brewing Sake at Hakkaisan

Brewing Sake at Hakkaisan

The brewery tour of the Hakkaisan facility started in their new production facility which allowed visitors to watch the various stages of sake production through windows set up at strategic points along the process. I was lucky enough to see several stages of the brewing process right up close. Just as I had seen in other breweries, this one was built on a vertical concept with the upper floors being at the start of the process and with the rice and sake working it’s way down. For example, milling and steaming on the top floor, brewing on the next floor down and pressing on the floor below that. That way you are never fighting gravity to transport your rice or sake. Ingenious!

Koji Making Kurabito in Action!

Koji Making Kurabito in Action!

After visiting the large milling facility, I was taken to the area where the rice is washed and steamed. Next I saw the wood paneled koji room. Luckily when I was there, I got to see the kurabito in action. They swept into the koji room with the precision of a S.W.A.T. team and with seeming laser-guided acuity, proceeded to turn the rice by hand so that each grain had a chance to get exposure to the koji mold being propagated here. They played it cool, but I think they may have been just as surprised to see a gaijin peering into the koji room window as I was to see them.

After the brewery tour, I had a wonderful sit down meeting with the production staff. We were able to exchange ideas and I explained the current state of the sake market in the US. After some wonderful questions back and forth, it was off to meet Hakkaisan President Mr. Nagumo.

With Mr. Nagumo, President of Hakkaisan

With Mr. Nagumo, President of Hakkaisan

Nagumo-san greeted me warmly in his home and I found him to be young and energetic with a lot of charisma. His beautiful mother prepared a lavish luncheon of local dishes that was simply delicious. I was bowled over by the spread and was even more surprised to learn we would be drinking the Hakkaisan competition sake to go along with the food. This is not sold to the public, so this was a rare honor indeed. Needless to stay I enjoyed every minute of it. We spent the afternoon talking sake and culture and about New York and the USA. I really had a wonderful time. But before I knew it, the train was calling and I was needing to head back to the station. I can’t thank Nagumo-san enough for hosting me and to everyone at Hakkaisan for their hospitality. Also, a special word of thanks to Makiko-san for helping all day with translations which made my stay that much more meaningful.

I won’t soon forget my fantastic day at Hakkaisan. Visiting this place kind of brought my whole experience in the sake world full circle. I was able to see for myself where the sake that first sparked my interest in Nihon-shu, was actually made. After seeing the beautiful countryside of this region and the beautiful people who lovingly craft this sake, it’s no mystery to me why I fell head over heels for Hakkaisan all those years ago.

Asahi Shuzo Brewery in Nagaoka City,  Niigata

Asahi Shuzo Brewery in Nagaoka Niigata

Next on my whirlwind trip to Niigata was a visit to Asahi Shuzo, makers of the world renowned Kubota Brand of Sakes. I was given a tour of the brewery by Mr. Masamichi Sanjo, who is in the export sales division at Asahi Shuzo.

Kubota Facility

Kubota Facility

Sanjo-san met me at the Nakaoka station in Niigata and drove me to the brewery for a tour. The outside of the Asahi Brewery was solid and seemed like the “Fortress of Solitude”. The walls were tall and smooth concrete. It really seemed like the Fort Knox of sake, secure, stable and solid. You won’t be getting in unless invited. Luckily, I was invited! With the beautiful low mountains of Niigata as the back drop, this was impressive to say the least.

Inside, I could see that the Brewery was clean, efficient and beautiful. Not just the facility itself, but also the size was impressive. As Sanjo-san gave me the tour, from start to finish, I got the sense that this place as run like clockwork and had a tremendous scale of operation.

First, I got to take an up close look at the moto (yeast starter) and even got to try my hand at mixing the moto! Yes, please note the hairnet and coat. It’s a really good look for me!

Mixing the Moto

Mixing the Moto

Moto tanks were smaller in scale but still a sight to behold. The Moto is also known as the “yeast Starter” and is one of the corner stones of the sake production process. A small batch of sake is made at this point under exacting temperature control with an incredibly high yeast content.

This is the incubation chamber of sake and it is understandably lavished a lot of attention. This yeast starter ends up in the main tank and kicks off the brewing process giving the yeast a fighting chance to survive and create lots of alcohol in the main mash.

Brewing Room Tanks

Brewing Room Tanks

Especially impressive was the view of the brewing tanks. Each silver lid you see is the cap to a large brewing tank that holds fermenting sake. All the tanks were monitored daily with specific instructions and observations written about each batch. A wonderful attention to detail that reflects itself in their delicious sake.

Speaking of their sake, Kubota makes some heavenly sake that is available for sale both in Restaurants and retail in The USA. After our tour, Sanjo-san took me out to expore Nagaoka and for a wonderful dinner to taste local food with delicious sake.

Enjoying Kubota Sake with Sanjo-san

Enjoying Kubota Sake with Sanjo-san

Now the Kubota brand is incredibly well known in Japan and is a flagship brand of sake if ever there was one! Starting with Kubota Senju Tokubetsu Honjozo, we have a delicious and well crafted honjozo that is a dream to pair with grilled fish and the like. Next I enjoyed the fantastic Kubota Hekiju Junmai Daiginjo. With a halo of lightness and delicious fruits on the palate, this sake is a treasure and oh so easy to enjoy. Last but not least, I marveled at the superior and delicious Kubota Manju Junmai Daiginjo. Manju is really a crown jewel of the kubota line and a top of the line product in Japan and the USA.

What a day! As I headed back to my hotel, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face! I had such a fantastic experience and felt so lucky to have seen Asahi Shuzo. My sincere thanks to Sanjo-san and family for the wonderful day in Nagaoka! The tour and hospitality were simply amazing. I can’t wait to return and see more of beautiful Asahi Shuzo and Nagaoka!

kyotofu_1.jpgThe Art of Sake Pairing
Don’t know your organic sake from your shochu? Join infamous New York sake sommelier Chris Johnson at this award-winning Midtown Japanese spot for a delicious and informative six-course dinner pairing food and sake. Mouthwatering dishes include seared scallop in shiso pesto, miso ginger slow simmered pork belly, and kabocha Japanese squash tart, all of which will be paired with the likes of Momokawa organic sake and TOMBO shochu cocktails.

Kyotofu, 705 Ninth Ave. (bet. 48th & 49th Sts.)
Event Details: $75 for six courses with sake and cocktails, tax and tip not included.

To Reserve: Call 212-974-6012
http://www.kyotofunyc.com/

With Mr. Endo of Kikusui

With Mr. Endo of Kikusui

My next stop on the Japan 2008 tour was taking me by Shinkansen to northern Niigata Perfecture, specifically to Shibata city, home of Kikusui Brewery. As you may know, Kikusui imports the much loved Kikusui Funaguchi Honjozo and the delicious Kikusui Junmai Ginjo.

I was met at the train station by Mr. Takeshi Endo, Export Salesman for Kikusui. Mr. Endo would be my guide for a fun filled day at Kikusui! Let me just say that my tour of Kikusui turned out to be more than I expected. As fate would have it, Kikusui Brewery was putting on a yearly Sake Rice Harvest festival for the local community on the day of my visit. Not only was I able to visit this fantastic brewery, but I also got the chance to harvest organic sake rice… by hand!

Beautiful Organic Kikusui Sake Rice Field

Beautiful Organic Kikusui Sake Rice Field

The day started with a welcome for the families and community members who came to the event from Brewery President Mr. Takasawa, who I met in January at Sakaya. We were then given a quick tutorial on cutting and binding rice stalks by hand using a deadly looking hand-held sickle. Next, we had some hilarious calisthenics that were lead by the youngest Kikusui office workers. Then it was time for the main event! Endo-san got me a sickle and then off to the rice paddy!

Kikusui Rice Harvest in Full Swing

Kikusui Rice Harvest in Full Swing

Let me tell you right now, harvesting rice by hand is hard work – and true to the “lazy American” stereotype, I pooped out long before anyone else including many kindergarten age kids running around collecting rice bundles with gusto and having a blast.

In about two hours, the entire rice paddy was harvested! phew, time for a break. Kikusui arranged for a fantastic concert by the Pataya Beach Boys. They were great and I even found a clip of them playing on YouTube if you want to give a listen! The crowd at Kikusui loved it and even chanted for an encore.

Beautiful Vintage Masu on Display at the Kikusui Sake Museum

Beautiful Vintage Masu on Display at the Kikusui Sake Museum

After the concert, Endo-san gave me a tour of the Kikusui brewery and museum. They have several brewery buildings and I was lucky enough to tour the organic brewery facility. It was a beautiful building newly constructed to strict earth-friendly standards. The museum was a vast and beautiful collection of Sake paraphernalia that made the ebay collector in me swoon just a little.

Next is was time to eat! Our hosts at Kikusui whipped up a wonderful lunch topped off by something new to me… I got to try hand pounded fresh mochi for the first time!

Pounding Rice Into Delicious Mochi

Pounding Rice Into Delicious Mochi

If you’ve never seen mochi being made, it’s a quasi dangerous process of pounding rice using wooden mallets until the rice becomes a delicious glutenous paste.

So there I was, in the middle of the Niigata countryside, eating fresh sake-rice mochi, drinking fantastic kikusui Sake – I was in 7th heaven! I am so grateful to Mr. Takasawa-san for hosting me and certainly also to Mr. Endo who took such good care of me and showed me around all day long. Without a doubt, this is a day I will remember for the rest of my life. Now, please pass the mochi.

sakaya.gifCome celebrate SAKAYA’s first birthday! sake and fun to be had for all!

SAKAYA
324 E. 9th Street (btwn 1st & 2nd Ave.)
NYC 10003
212.505.7253 (SAKE)
www.sakayanyc.com

sakaya.gifCome celebrate SAKAYA’s first birthday! sake and fun to be had for all!

SAKAYA
324 E. 9th Street (btwn 1st & 2nd Ave.)
NYC 10003
212.505.7253 (SAKE)
www.sakayanyc.com

sakaya.gifJust in time for New Years! Taste the best in sparkling sake at Sakaya! cheers! Kanpai!

SAKAYA
324 E. 9th Street (btwn 1st & 2nd Ave.)
NYC 10003
212.505.7253 (SAKE)
www.sakayanyc.com

sakaya.gifSakaya will be pouring and tasting the wonderful Kagatobi sakes! don’t miss it!! trust me!

SAKAYA
324 E. 9th Street (btwn 1st & 2nd Ave.)
NYC 10003
212.505.7253 (SAKE)
www.sakayanyc.com

sakaya.gifCome celebrate SAKAYA’s first birthday! sake and fun to be had for all!

SAKAYA
324 E. 9th Street (btwn 1st & 2nd Ave.)
NYC 10003
212.505.7253 (SAKE)
www.sakayanyc.com

sakaya.gifCome celebrate SAKAYA’s first birthday! sake and fun to be had for all!

SAKAYA
324 E. 9th Street (btwn 1st & 2nd Ave.)
NYC 10003
212.505.7253 (SAKE)
www.sakayanyc.com

sakaya.gifSakaya is offering a free tasting of the best sake that Akita Prefecture has to offer. Don’t miss this tasting!

SAKAYA
324 E. 9th Street (btwn 1st & 2nd Ave.)
NYC 10003
212.505.7253 (SAKE)
www.sakayanyc.com

sakaya.gifRick and Hiroko at Sakaya will be pouring some fantastic sakes from Nishimoto importers, namely: Okunomatsu Ginjo & Kudoki Jozu Junmai Ginjo

SAKAYA
324 E. 9th Street (btwn 1st & 2nd Ave.)
NYC 10003
212.505.7253 (SAKE)
www.sakayanyc.com