jal_thumbI think any trip to Japan and back would be exciting, but traveling back and forth every day?

Well, believe it or not, I’ve been getting the opportunity to jet back and forth to Japan, but I’m forced to ride in the “seat pocket in front of you…” That’s right, my Elements of Sake Class is featured in February’s issue of Japan Airlines “Skyward in-flight Magazine!

It’s a full page spread, but only in Japanese, so if anyone can help with a translation, let me know! Click on the image to the left or click here to view the PDF.

sakenomi.gifLeading up to the Seattle Saké Matsuri, we are pleased to be able to give you a chance to meet some brewers and sample the tasty fruits of their labor in the intimate confines of your favorite saké shop.

Please join us on Sunday, March 1 from 5 p.m. to welcome the brewers to Seattle and Saké Nomi.

$10 admission fee to this “open house” tasting covers all the samples the brewers are hand carrying from Japan. While the selection won’t be as varied as that of the actual Seattle Saké Matsuri, it will be mostly saké not yet available in Washington, and there will probably be a few goodies in limited quantities that will only be poured at Saké Nomi.

Come on down!

sakenomi.gifIn Seattle, It’s an all-you-can-eat spectacular that is Oyster Madness.

Saturday, Feb. 28 @ Noon- 4 p.m. approximately 5000 bivalves and gallons of booze will be presented for your responsible consumption.

As part of the festivities, we’ll be pouring 3 saké we think compliment oysters particularly well.

Tickets are $30 and can be purchased by contacting Ama Ama at 206-937-1514.

Come out and help us spread the good word about the saké/oyster combination. It’s one of life’s greatest pleasures!

sakaya.gifTakasago Brewer Tasting at Sakaya

Mr. Kohiyama from Takasago Brewer is joining sakaya for a tasting on Ginga Shizuku Junmai Daiginjo and Taisetsu Junmai Ginjo

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

sakaya.gifGreat Tasting at Sakaya! FREE Joto Sake tasting at sakaya! It’ll be yummy! please join me!

Namazake!

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

sakaya.gifUmenoyado Sake Tasting at Sakaya

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

tim_photo.jpgPlease join me!! I am teaching a sake 101 class at the Astor center called the “Elements of Sake.” This class is a fun, informative and tasty way to dive into the world of premium saké. I’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, I’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. Tickets required. Cost $65

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 new sake class at the Astor Center called “Discover Nama Sake.” Interest in unpasteurized nama sakes is booming. Whether you call them Draft, Unpasteurized, Raw or Seasonal, Namas are alive with fresh, juicy and bold flavors that wake up the senses and delight the palate. In this class we will examine the different types of Nama sakes, look at the role of pasteurization in the sake production process and review invaluable tips for storing, serving and caring for your Nama. We’ll also taste the freshest and very best of the seasonal Nihon-shu on the market. These special sakes have limited availability, so don’t miss this chance to discover the joys of Nama Sake for yourself. Kanpai!

This class takes place at Astor Center. Tickets required. Cost $75

Please visit the website to Register for this class

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

Sake is always the number one story with me, but other media outlets have been featuring a lot of news on Nihon-shu, too. Here is a quick roundup of some interesting sake stories making the news:

news_iconPhilip Harper, Japan’s only foreign Toji and author of The Insider’s Guide to Sake, is featured in this wonderful article in the LA Times:

A Foreigner Hopes to Revive Japan’s Flagging Spirits
By John M. Glionna / Los Angeles Times
February 3, 2009

An unlikely master brewer is hoping to revive the centuries-old drink’s flagging popularity — an auburn haired Briton, Philip Harper, who fell in love with the drink and the culture that produced it.

Reporting from Kumihama, Japan — As master brewers have done for 13 centuries before him, the sake factory boss is everywhere at once in his rustic timbered building along Japan’s rugged northern coastline: helping to drag sacks of rice, gently issuing instructions to his four brewing assistants, consulting with his own boss, a fifth-generation owner.

Read the Full Article >

news_iconOur friend and Foodie about town Michael Anstendig recently published a great list of the “Top 10 Sake Dens” that was featured in the New York Observer. Makes me proud to be a New Yorker!

Top 10 Sake Dens
by Michael Anstendig / The New York Observer
January 30, 2009

Revered as Japan’s “Drink of the Gods,” sake is the traditional offering to Shinto deities. With good reason—it’s pretty miraculous stuff. Employing rice, yeast and water, some of the humblest ingredients on Earth, sake brewers can tease out a staggering array of divine aromas and flavors, from the earthy to the fruity. New Yorkers have lately become hip to sake, having figured out the good stuff isn’t flogged at scalding temperatures in cheesy ceramic bottles. Sake-drenched drinkeries have happily proliferated to meet this new thirst, offering mind-bending varieties, tasty eats, and diverse vibes.

Read the Full Article >

news_iconI found this interesting article on the Ozkei production in Hollister California. Little did I know that Ozkei is celebrating 30 years of making sake in the US. Since 1979! The comments on why This particular part of California are especially interesting.

Sake Country
By Jessica Fromm / Metro Santa Cruz Weekly

Hollister’s Ozeki celebrates its run as America’s first sake brewery. Yoji Ogawa leans over a large, cloth-lined tub and thrusts his hand into the snowy white mass filling it. Bits of white dust stick to his cuticles as he draws his hand up and opens his palm, revealing a handful of what look like powdered, bloated bits of Styrofoam.

Read the Full Article >

Hakkaisan Sakes

Hakkaisan Sake

Nobody was more excited than me to learn that Sake Hana was hosting my beloved Hakkaisan Brewery for a “vertical” tasting of their sake. From Futsu-shu up to Junmai Daiginjo… we were going to taste it all. So, you can imagine, I was psyched!

This event was part of the education series put on by Toshi-san at Sake Hana Sake Bar. I was lucky enough to teach a sake 101 class there last month, which was a lot of fun and where we tasted TEN delicious sakes.

What Makes a Hakkaisan?
This class was lead wonderfully by Hakkaisan’s special envoy in the U.S., Ms. Kumino Kurosawa. Kurosawa-san instructed us in several interesting points that all focus in on one interesting question: How can a large and famous sake brewery like Hakkaisan produce the quality of hand-crafted sake you find at small jizake micro breweries?

Kurosawa-san with Hakkaisan Junmai Daiginjo

Kurosawa-san with Hakkaisan Junmai Daiginjo

In my opinion, it all comes down to effort of the brewery to produce the best quaility with no cutting corners. Several great observations were made that raised my awareness of what goes into this scale of production:
  • Best quality Sake rice. Working with local rice farmers to ensure the best of the crop is used in Hakkaisan Sake.
  • Special Milling Rates (seimaibuai). Using higher than usual milling rates help ensure a superior product.
  • Hand crafting Koji. All Koji used in Hakkaisan production is make by hand.
  • “Long and Low” fermentation. Using low temperatures and a longer time frame helps achieve that special taste.
  • Accomplished staff. Full staff of well trained artisans help maintain quality of koji and sake production.

The Hakkaisan Sakes
Well, what did we taste? It was a wonderful journey up the offering of what Hakkaisan has to offer:

hakkaisan_futsushuHakkaisan Futshushu Futsushu is often considered “table sake”. Most Futsushu is rough and tuble, but Hakkaisan is dry and clean and not your average futsushu. Much more elegant that you would usually find. You can tell this sake is a younger brother to the more elegant Hakkaisan Ginjo sake. Great for pairing with richer foods.

hakkaisan_honjozoHakkaisan Honjozo Delicious and slightly rich honjozo. On the dry side with plenty of body to stand up to hearty food. you could enjoy this honjozo both chilled and gently warmed.

Hakkaisan Ginjo Truly one of my very favorite sakes. 2007 Urban Sake Golden Masu winner for “best in show” sake. The added alcohol in this sake gives a more floral character to the nose and a touch of added richness to the body while staying true to it’s smooth and lighter Niigata roots. A fantastic argument for premium ginjo-shu style sake if there ever was one.

hakkaisan_ginjoHakkaisan Junmai GinjoI have a real soft spot in my heart for this sake. It’s a touch dry with tremendous balance and a crisp refreshing finish. Elegant and not to be missed! A perfect example of Niigata class and elegance.

hakkaisan_junmai_ginjoHakkaisan “Kongo-shin” Junmai Daiginjo This sake was a surprise for class attendees. It’s not available in the US, and I have never had a chance to try it! It presents in one of the most beautiful sake bottles you’ll ever see. The taste is quite rich and full with tremendous depth of flavor. It goes down extremely smooth – this is accounted for by it’s fantastic milling rate of 40%. Balanced and deep, I found my glass empty much too soon!

Even after spending a fantastic day personally touring Hakkaisan brewery last October, I still found myself learning more and more about this wonderful sake producer. I left feeling lucky we have it here in the States, so if you haven’t yet, be sure to try Hakkaisan first chance you get. It’s an incredibly well known brand in Japan and you don’t reach that level of brand awareness without a lot of hard work and passion for sake making. I feel it’s a wonderful marriage of small scale commitment to detail and larger scale quality production that creates that something very special. And nothing beats the chance to taste these sakes all side by side… Delicious!

Sake Discoveries invites you to a special sake and food pairing party on Saturday, February 21st.

We are offering many kinds of premium sake paired with an assortment of food and dessert by Chef Aki Tanaka. Her dishes are amazing but at the same time easy to make at home!

You can have great sake recommended by Sake Sommelier Chizuko and learn about chef Aki Tanaka’s recipes (as well as eating them ;)) at a super cool loft space in Soho. It will be an unforgettable night for you.

Saturday February 21st from 6 pm to 8 pm
48 Mercer st 2W (Between Broome and Grand st)
$80 per person, includes tax and tips

we accept only cash or check at the door (no credit card)
reservation is necessary
email here: [email protected]

Daishichi Junmai Daiginjo “HOREKI”
Nanbu Bijin Daiginjo,
Dassai Sparkling Nigori
Tengumai Junmai Ginjo “UMAGIN”,
Akita Sake from ASPEC and…more

sakaya.gifSeasonal Namazake Tasting

They’ve arrived! And, SAKAYA will be offering a tasting of three of the first wave of Hatsushibori, the early spring release seasonal namazake (unpasteurized sake) this Saturday from 3 to 6PM. We’re fortunate to be among the first to receive these bright, fresh, lively flavored harbingers of spring and look forward to sharing them with you:

Harushika “Shiboribana” Junmai Ginjo Namazake (Nara)
Kamikokoro “Tokagen” Tokubetsu Junmai Nama Genshu (Okayama)
Ichinokura Nama Genshu Nigori (Miyagi)

Please join us for an unforgettable (and some might say, dangerously addictive) taste experience.

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

sakenomi.gifSeattle Saké Matsuri

Please make plans to join us March 3 (Tues.) for the first-ever Seattle Saké Matsuri, to be held at Umi Sake House @ 5:00- 7:00 p.m. Sponsored in part by the Japan Sake Brewers Association (JSBA), the Seattle Saké Matsuri will be attended by a dozen highly-respected Japanese breweries and their representatives who will present approximately 30 different saké for tasting.

We’re extremely excited about the Seattle Saké Matsuri because it will be the first time for this type of promotional tasting event to be held outside the usual “major” cities of New York, LA, and San Francisco. JSBA members recognize that Seattle’s saké scene is on the rise and they want to be a part of what’s happening here.

Many of the saké that will be poured at the matsuri (festival) are extremely rare, brewed in limited quantities, and are not yet available in the U.S. Attending the Seattle Saké Matsuri will be a chance for you to express your likes and dislikes directly to the brewers and influence their decisions regarding the Seattle saké market.

Admission for the event is $40/person and includes all saké and appetizers.

Tickets are currently being printed and will be available for purchase at Saké Nomi, but you can reserve and purchase your tickets now by contacting us via phone (206-467-SAKE) or e-mail ([email protected]).

We hope you’ll join us at the Seattle Saké Matsuri on March 3 as we welcome this group of brewers and celebrate the exquisite craftsmanship of their delicious saké!

A quick overnight trip to Las Vegas this past weekend for a friend’s birthday left me very little time to explore the sake scene in Sin City. That doesn’t mean, however, that my stay was totally nary a nip of nihon-shu.

Boo Ya! It's Shibuya

I talked my friends into spending one of our meals together at Shibuya Restaurant. Located inside the MGM Grand Hotel, I selected this restaurant in the hopes of exploring it’s extensive sake list… and with my fingers crossed for discovering some hopefully authentic and delicious Japanese cuisine.

Some Wasabi With That?
The space itself was large and, although situated away from the casino’s blinking slot machines, was decorated with just enough flash to make sure you didn’t forget you were in Vega$, baby.

Next Course Sashimi?

Next Course Sashimi?

The food, in a nutshell, was quite good, but prepared dishes lean strongly into the Japanese fusion camp ala Morimoto or Nobu. I am much more of a devotee of the Japanese authentic camp myself, so this is good to know if you’re an authentic camper, too.

The Sushi I enjoyed at Shibuya was well prepared but a touch too heavy on the wasabi. I’m a wuss in this department, but if the chef is going to pre-season the fish with wasabi, it’s better to take a lighter hand.

There was a delicious crab salad that was served in a very, well, flashy Las Vegas way… a bowl of the crab salad was served perched over a fishbowl with a live fish swimming around. Can’t help thinking the poor little guy isn’t too happy working at a sushi joint.

Show me the $ake!
The Sake menu was large and the Shibuya website boasts that they have “the widest sake selection this side of the Pacific.” It was a good list to be sure – way above what you could find in most Japanese restaurants but I’m sure that NYC’s Sakagura Restaurant has them beat in the ‘widest sake selection’ department… assuming Nevada and New York are on the same side of the Pacific.

Sake Bottle Display

Sake Bottle Display

All the sake on the list was expensive. I believe it is more expensive that you would pay by the bottle in New York City at most restaurants. But hey, perhaps you just won big at roulette and need to relieve yourself of some of that weighty cash. Let’s of delicious sakes to help you out! I was excited to talk sake with the Shibuya Sake Sommelier. When I asked if they had a Sake Sommelier on staff, I was disappointed to be told “Not tonight”.

So I was on my own and to start us off, I guided my friends to the Sougen Junmai. This is a clean, crisp drink that really started to shine when our first courses arrived and we were able to pair it with food.

Next, we enjoyed Wakatake Junmai Daiginjo. This sake is along the same vein as the Sougen being clean, but as a junmai daiginjo grade, it’s more smooth and has more fruit coming across on the palate. The 16.5% alcohol content was a bit strong for a few folks, but should I be concerned that this didn’t bother me in the least? An interesting note on the service of sake. When a new sake is served, they give every guest a business card with the vital stats of each sake. It’s a nice touch and I’ve never seen this done at a restaurant before. It does make sense as I’m sure lots of people ask their server… “now what was the name of that first sake we had??”

So, if you find yourself looking for a little sake oasis in the deserts of Las Vegas, don’t hesitate to give Shibuya a try. The nihon-shu selection is fantastic so if drinking sake is your game, this is one table in the casino where you’re sure to come out a winner every time.

sake-hana.jpgSpring Kura Blessing (Shinto Ceremony) & Sakétini Saturday

Please join your local sakéry, SakéOne for the annual blessing of the saké brewery, presided over by Reverend Koichi Barrish of the Tsubaki Grand Shrine in Granite Falls, Washington.

Saké is an important element in Shinto rituals and was originally used as a gift to an Okamisama (divine being). Today saké is always included as a daily gift/food offering at every shrine and at every ceremony. In turn, all sakéries in Japan have close relationships with one or more Shinto shrines. It is believed that saké enhances inner harmony, bringing peace and balance. Saké will be served following the ceremony.

Location: SakéOne, 820 Elm St., Forest Grove, OR 97116
Phone: 503.357.7056 x. 235
Web: www.sakeone.com
Email: [email protected]

sake-hana.jpgSakétini Saturday

SakéOne celebrates the very best summer cocktails this month at Sakétini Saturday The $5.00 tasting fee includes a flight of four sakés, three sakétinis and a tour. The tasting room is open from 11:00am to 5:00pm. Brewery tours will be at 1, 2 and 3PM.

Location: SakéOne, 820 Elm St., Forest Grove, OR 97116
Phone: 503.357.7056 x. 235
Web: www.sakeone.com
Email: [email protected]

sake-hana.jpgChocolate 101 & Saké Pairing

Ever been curious about what makes chocolate so irresistible? Attend our Chocolate 101 event & find out why! This tasting will give a great overview of what quality chocolate is, along with a brief history, understanding of the manufacturing processes & must know chocolatiers.

$20 per person. $16 per person for club members
Advance tickets at www.sakeone.com

Location: SakéOne, 820 Elm St., Forest Grove, OR 97116
Phone: 503.357.7056 x. 235
Email: [email protected]

sake-hana.jpgSakéOne’s Annual “For The Love of Nigori” Tasting

Attention all sweethearts & singletons! You are invited to indulge in SakéOne’s annual “For The Love of Nigori” tasting on Valentine’s Weekend. We will feature exotic & unique international chocolates paired with select Oregon craft brewed saké, as well as our favorite Japanese Nigori from the Murai Family brewery & our Naughty Nutella Sakétini. Tasting Fee is $10 per person.

Location: SakéOne, 820 Elm St., Forest Grove, OR 97116
Phone: 503.357.7056 x. 235
Web: www.sakeone.com
Email: [email protected]

sake-hana.jpgSakéOne’s Annual “For The Love of Nigori” Tasting

Attention all sweethearts & singletons! You are invited to indulge in SakéOne’s annual “For The Love of Nigori” tasting on Valentine’s Weekend. We will feature exotic & unique international chocolates paired with select Oregon craft brewed saké, as well as our favorite Japanese Nigori from the Murai Family brewery & our Naughty Nutella Sakétini. Tasting Fee is $10 per person.

Location: SakéOne, 820 Elm St., Forest Grove, OR 97116
Phone: 503.357.7056 x. 235
Web: www.sakeone.com
Email: [email protected]

sake-hana.jpgSecrets of Hakkaisan Brewery at Sake Hana

Class III: Parallel tasting
(Secrets of Hakkaisan Brewery)

[Feburary, 11th, 2009, 7pm] $65

1. Taste different types of sake from the same brewery
2. The secret of mass produced, but a high quality sake
3. Why do they become famous?
4. Food pairing with Hakkaisan
5. Hakkaisan shochu???
6. and more

Mrs. Kurosawa from Hakkaisan sake brewery will come from Japan

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 cost of a class will include many sake relevant to the night’s talk.

For some classes, we will be inviting guest speakers from Japan, for whom we will provide an English translator.

For more information, please email: [email protected] or stop by Sake Hana(78st between 2nd & 3rd)

kyotofu_1.jpgSake Sundays at Kyotofu

Introducing Sake Sundays at Kyotofu
Half-off all sake glasses and bottles during January and February!

When: Every Sunday during January and February, from 5:30pm – 12:30pm

What: 50% off all Sake Glasses and Bottles!
On over 30 types of sake served cold or hot…from our Momokawa Organic Junmai Ginjo (usually $35 per bottle; $17.50 on Sundays), to our Kattchou Gesseki Daiginjo (usually $130 per bottle; $65 on Sundays).

Where: Kyotofu – 705 Ninth Avenue between 48th and 49th
Call 212-974-6012
http://www.kyotofunyc.com/