Las Vegas: Banzai Sake Party

Banzai Beverage Company sake party

Banzai Beverage raises Sake Fever
Over 200 highly acclaimed Sakes come to Vegas

LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Banzai Beverage Company is creating a momentous sake party at the Palms Hotel on April 9, 2010 from 7 to 10pm. They will be hosting 15 of Japan’s most celebrated brew masters presenting over 200 of the of the world’s finest sakes ever to grace our shores.
Welcome to Sake Fever! This will be world’s largest sake event and will be open to the public so join us poolside at the Palms Hotel and be ready for an adventure. The event is in conjunction with the 36th annual UNLVino 2010 taking place in the city over the weekend. Tickets for Sake Fever are $50 in advance and $75 at the door. For tickets, go to [email protected]

Senshin Junmai Daiginjo!! Today, Sanjo-san, visiting from the brewery that makes Kubota, was serving a special and beautifully presented Kubota Junmai Daiginjo set. This set included Kubota Manju Junmai Daiginjo, Tokugetsu Junmai Daiginjo, and last but not least Senshin Junmai Daiginjo.'>

Kubota Night at Sakagura

Sanjo-san with Sakagura Manager Yukie-san

Sanjo-san with Sakagura Manager Yukie-san

After my fun Kubota Adventure at Decibel, I didn’t want to miss the Kubota event at Sakagura!

This time I was in for one of my new favorite sakes…Senshin Junmai Daiginjo!! Today, Sanjo-san, visiting from the brewery that makes Kubota, was serving a special and beautifully presented Kubota Junmai Daiginjo set. This set included Kubota Manju Junmai Daiginjo, Tokugetsu Junmai Daiginjo, and last but not least Senshin Junmai Daiginjo.

I was delighted to celebrate Kubota sake and Chizuko-san of Sake Discoveries joined me! We had fun enjoying sake together and toasting to Niigata sake from Asahi Shuzo. Sanjo-san stopped by and introduced us to his sake. We also got some special gifts, too!

Sanjo-san is of course the gentleman that gave me tour of the Kubota Sake Brewery (Asahi Shuzo) on my 2008 trip to Niigata. I was delighted to come out and support any Kubota event happening in New York.

I hope Sanjo-san makes another trip to New York this year. I’m always happy to toast this delicious sake! Kanpai!

Kubota Junmai Daiginjo Set

Kubota Junmai Daiginjo Set

Crowds at Sakagura all trying Kubota!

Sanjo-san introduces Kubota sake to some Niigata Fans

Sanjo-san introduces Kubota sake to some Niigata Fans

Sanjo-san and Chizuko-san enjoy Kubota Sake!

Sanjo-san and Chizuko-san enjoy Kubota Sake!

Kubota Sake Tasting at Decibel

Funky Sake Bar Decibel

In early February, on the night of one of our many awful winter storms this year, I trekked over to Decibel to attend a fantastic Kubota event. They weather was storming outside, but I followed by Sake Samurai Motto:

Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays the sake samurai from the swift attendance of their appointed sake tastings.

Now, not only was awesome sake being served, but the event was hosted by Masamichi Sanjo. Sanjo-san was the gentleman that gave me tour of the Kubota Sake Brewery (Asahi Shuzo) on my 2008 trip to Niigata.

The tasting on this night was a set of 3 sakes: Kubota Hekiju Junmai Daiginjo, Tokugetsu Junmai Daiginjo, and Kubota Senju Tokubetsu Honjozo

These three sakes were delicious! Sanjo-san served the Senju Honjozo with some yummy rice crackers and some preserved salmon from Niigata. It was an earthy mix and a robust flavor! A really fun way to taste a big of Niigata local cuisine!

I had such a fun time at this tasting and stay tuned for my report on another kubota tasting shortly! Thank you to Sanjo-san for bringing such great sake to Decibel!

Kubota Sake Tasting Set


Sanjo-san Introduces Kubota Sakes

Sanjo-san Explains Kubota Sake to Decibel customers

Kubota Sakes

From left to right Kubota Senju Honjozo, Tokugetsu Junmai Daiginjo and Kubota Hekiju Junmai Daiginjo

LA: Joy of Sake Aftertaste: Into the Valley of the Dolls

jos_aftertaste.jpgJoy of Sake Aftertaste: INto the Valley of the Dolls

March 3 is Girl’s Day in Japan, celebrated with colorful dolls, festive foods and furtive nips of shirozake (sweet white sake) when the parents aren’t looking.

To enjoy this happy holiday, we’ve assembled a selection of demure, charming sakes for the ladies and well-built, stalwart labels for the gentlemen. There are 37 daiginjo, ginjo and junmai labels in all, each with its own distinctive flavor, texture and aroma.

The tasting takes an hour, followed by sake appetizers and congenial sake-sipping until 8:00 p.m. Chef Tetsuya Harikawa’s menu for the evening features two Girl’s Day favorites plus two of his own signature dishes.

For tickets please go to the Aftertaste Ticket Store or call Pua at 808-222-0195. Attendance is limited to 60 persons.

Into the Valley of the Dolls
Torafuku (10914 West Pico Blvd.)
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
6:00-8:00 pm

LA: An evening of Chilled Artisan Sake

Sake Mini Fest @ The Wine House

EVENT DETAILS from the organizer:
Our sake buyer Merritt Kopina and owner Randy Kemner team up to present some of the greatest brewed beverages on the planet! Come see what many people are trading their weekday martinis for; these are fine, delicate, refreshing and beautiful with wine-like finesse. Tonight we learn how sake is made and explore the full range of sake styles—dry, fruity, creamy, slightly sweet and full flavored—including Junmai, Daiginjo and Junmai Daiginjo sakes. We will sample some of the most delicious examples of small-production filtered and non-filtered artisan sakes from Japan’s finest regions, such as Nigate and Iwate prefectures. Spicy tuna, glazed pork loin, special cheeses and rice crackers will accompany. Learn about one of the world’s great drinks. SEATING LIMITED—RESERVATIONS REQUIRED

October 4, 2009 (Sun)
1:00 PM – 4:00 PM

The Wine Country
2301 Redondo Ave.
Signal Hill, CA 90755
ph. 562-597-8303

COST: $35.00

NYC: Vine Connections Sake Tasting at Sakaya

sakaya.gifVine Connections Sake Tasting at Sakaya

Vine Connections Tasting: Tentaka “Hawk in the Heavens” Junmai & Kanbara “Bride of the Fox” Junmai Ginjo

When: Fri Mar 12, 2010 6pm to Fri Mar 12, 2010 8pm EST


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

NYC: Masumi Arabashiri at Sakaya

sakaya.gifMasumi Arabashiri Sake Tasting at Sakaya

Masumi Arabashiri Sake Tasting

When: Fri Apr 2, 2010 6pm to Fri Apr 2, 2010 8pm EDT


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

NYC: Masumi Arabashiri at Sakaya

sakaya.gifMasumi Arabashiri Sake Tasting at Sakaya

Masumi Arabashiri Sake Tasting

When: Fri Mar 26, 2010 6pm to Fri Mar 26, 2010 8pm EDT

Event Status: confirmed

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

NYC: Kotsuzumi Sake Tasting at Sakaya

sakaya.gifKotsuzumi Sake Tasting at Sakaya

Kotsuzumi Sake Tasting

When: Sat Mar 6, 2010 6pm to Sat Mar 6, 2010 8pm EST

Event Description: Kotsuzumi Junmai Daiginjo & Tokubetsu Junmai (Hyogo)

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

Philly: Sake Fest 2010

sakefest Sake Fest 2010

Presented by and Event Navigators

Wednesday 14 April 2010
6 to 8:30 PM
Loews Philadelphia Hotel
Millennium Ballroom – 2nd Floor
1200 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107

Admission: $59.50 online
$69.50 at the door

(Adults 21 & older only)

Info and tickets:

San Francisco: Ichishima Sake Dinner

Ichishima Sake Dinner at Blowfish

A delectable prefix dinner paired with five of Ichishima’s top sakes. Chef Kenichi will be preparing many varieties of Japanese traditional & exotic dishes to be paired with Ichishima sakes. Guest speakers will be Kenji Ichishima & Michael Simkin. There will be no shortage of dishes to indulge in!

Time: FIRST SEATING at 6:30pm / SECOND SEATING at 8:45pm

Where: Blowfish Sushi To Die For 2170 Bryant Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

Hosted By: Kenji Ichishima, Owner of Ichishima Shuzo; Michael Simkin, America’s leading sake expert & ambassador for Ichishima; Andy Mirabell, Director of Operations of the Blowfish Sushi chain; and Kenichi Kawashima, Executive Chef of Blowfish Sushi.

Cost: $75.00 per guest Charged on the day of event. A credit card will be taken to hold the reservation slot & the booking manager will review the cancellation policy.

RSVP: Call Blowfish Sushi To Die For at (415) 285-3848

Akira Organic Sake in New York!


I was lucky enough to attend some wonderful and cutting edge sake events this past week. What makes them cutting edge? One word: Organic.

Organic seems to be everywhere you turn these days and now, I’m happy to report that organic is starting to hit in the sake world. A wonderful new organic sake is coming to market that I really enjoyed and I hope you’ll get the chance to taste!

That is a Junmai sake called “Akira” and it’s got a really cool story! It all starts with the owner of the farm that makes the sake, Mr. Akira Imura. Imura-san is Chairman of an organic farming company called Kanazawa Daichi located in Kanazawa Japan. He is incredibly enthusiastic about organic farming and he has a true connection to the spirit of the land. Their farm produces organic barley, wheat, soybeans and of course, rice!

The triple Organic rice (Japan, US and EU organic certified) used to make Akira is called “mitsuhikari” rice and it’s interesting to note that this is not usually a sake making rice! The farmers at Kanazawa Daichi told me they feel this sake best represents their brand and their focus on organic products! Their next idea was to bring this great sake to New York City!

Sake Sommelier Chizuko Niikawa-Helton of Sake Discoveries worked with the folks at Kanazawa Daichi to arrange for some great events:

Akira Kanazawa Daichi Night at Kitano Hotel Hakubai Restaurant

The Elegant Kitano Hotel was the setting for the first Akira event. About 100 especially invited guests dined on the wonderful food at Hakubai restaurant and enjoyed Akira Sake! Chizuko was pouring the sake three ways… chilled, room temperature and gently warmed. The guests that I spoke to were all enthusiastic about Akira and many people told me that they have never enjoyed warm sake so much. This made me very happy!

Sake Samurai with Organic Farmers at Hakubai

Akira Sake Tasting at Sakaya

Our Friends Rick and Hiroko at Sakaya also hosted the organic farmers from Kanazawa Daichi. This event allowed all of Sakaya’s sake fans to taste the delicious organic sake, too! Here, too the folks loved Akira – only problem is it’s not for sale in the USA…yet!!!

Tasting Akira at Sakaya

Kanazawa Daichi Night at Sakagura

Last but not least, Sakagura hosted a wonderful evening of Akira Sake tasting – and eating, too! The farmers from kanazawa Daichi brought over some of their organic sake which was made into the most delicious organic onigiri rice balls. The rice was served along side of Akira served at 3 temperatures. Everyone, including myself, flipped out over the fatastic flavor of the organic rice. It’s not every day you can sample the rice your sake was made from – what a treat! Another magical night at Sakagura!!

Chizuko-san and Farmers Introducing Akira sake at Sagakura

Akira Tasting set: 3 temperatures

Elegant Organic Onigiri! utterly delicious!

All told, this was a wonderful start to the organic sake revolution in New York! I think the organic farmers from Japan were thrilled to spread the joy of the organic farm to the big city – and I for was was delighted they did! Again, “Akira” is not yet for sale in the U.S. but hopefully soon! If these events were any indication, it will be a big success! Kanazawa Kanpai!

NYC: Gen’s Farewell Party at Soba Totto

From the Event Sponsor:

Hi Everyone,
As they say, all good things must come to an end, and sadly Gen Yamamoto’s last day at Soba Totto is February 15th. Please join us on February 15th from 7:00 to 10:00 pm, as we celebrate a year of great events and great drinks with Gen at Soba Totto!

To celebrate the occasion, Soba Totto has offered us a special discount ($2 off) on glasses of Gasanryu, Hakkaisan, Hoyo, Ichishima, and Naraman, and has even agreed to special order cans of Kikusui Funaguchi just for the night!

Please join us to wish Gen good luck and farewell!

Soba Totto

211 E. 43 St.
New York, NY 10017

Seattle: 2nd Annual Seattle Sake Matsuri

sakenomi.gif2nd Annual Seattle Sake Matsuri

The number of participating brewers is increasing (we’re up to 14 now — double last year’s participants!), and the number of available tickets is rapidly decreasing, so please don’t hesitate and do make plans to join us at the Northwest’s premier saké-centric tasting event, the 2nd Annual Seattle Saké Matsuri on Wednesday, February 17 @ 6-8 p.m.

This year’s event, held in The Chinese Room at Seattle’s iconic Smith Tower, will feature our guest brewers pouring approximately 50 varieties of high-grade, hand-crafted premium saké, some of which have never been available in the U.S.

A variety of Northwest-inspired hors d’oeuvres will also be served, illustrating that saké is not just for sushi anymore!

Tickets are $50 each and can be purchased exclusively at Saké Nomi, so please stop by to pick yours up as soon as possible. If you can’t make it to the shop right away, you can reserve by phone (206-467-7253) or e-mail ([email protected]).

We hope you’ll join us in welcoming this group of award-winning brewers and enjoying the magnificent fruits of their labor and skills.

Learn more:

NJ: Sake Tasting & Cultural Exchange in NJ

Sake Tasting & Cultural/Business Exchange in NJ

This special event offers Asian and American communities in New Jersey an opportunity to develop friendships and business relations in a fun and casual party-like atmosphere. It’s a gathering of friends
to learn and teach Japanese tradition through Sake tasting.

This is our first Sake Tasting Event and, along with

our expert Sake sommelier, entertainment, relaxed conversation and great food,
should make for a great night. So please join us.

Sake Sommeliers : Chizuko Niikawa-Helton, Yasu Suzuki & Seju Yang
Sake 101/Sake Teacher : Timothy Sullivan

Date & Time : Thursday, February 25th, 2010
Time : 7:00 pm – 9:30 pm
Venue : Crowne Plaza Englewood
401 South Van Brunt St. Englewood, NJ 07631
Fee : $20 (Member of JUSA-NJ & JAS-NJ)
Attire : Business Casual
Age 21 & Older and Accommodations Limited
RSVP by February 20th to WWW. JUSANJ.ORG
Inquiries: (201) 424-7850

Learn more:

Sake Brands : Nanbu Bijin Brewery Asahi Brewery(Dassai) Shata Brewery(Tengumai)
Kato Kichibei Shouten(Born) Asamai Brewery(Amanoto) Akita Seishu Brewery(Dewatsuru)

NJ Sake Event


Upcoming Kubota Sake Events in NYC


Kubota is coming to town!

One of the most famous premium sake brands in all of Japan, “Kubota” has two fantastic sake events scheduled for this week! If you can make it, I think they will be awesome! Mr. Sanjo from the Asahi Shuzo Brewery that makes Kubota will be a special guest at both events and able to answer questions and help introduce you to this delicious sake!

Don’t miss these events:

*Feb. 10th, 6-12 pm: Kubota Event at Sake Bar Decibel
*Feb 12th, 9-11:30pm Kubota Night at Sakagura

I was thrilled to visit the brewery where Kubota was made in 2008. It was so beautiful there!

The Sake is just as beautiful!

Sake Dictionary Iphone App

Sake Dictionary

Sake Super-Sensei John Gauntner has come out with his first Iphone app – it’s a version of his valuable sake dictionary that you can carry without at all times now on your Iphone. This is surely to be a much loved app for every sake fan out there.

Check it out and download for yourself. You can find the sake dictionary App here:

NYC: Kubota Event at Sake Bar Decibel


and Japanese Party Favors…

with special guest: Masamichi Sanjo – sake sommelier
$18 (limited supplies)
Sake Specials- Hekiju, Tokugetsu, Senju

Kubota Event at Decibel

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

Japanese Culinary Center Sake Tasting

Sake Sensei George Kao recently taught a fun Sake 101 class with a twist at the beautiful Japanese Culinary Center. The twist? George incorporated a blind tasting contest into the event. It made for a fun and exciting showdown for everyone attending!

Sakes tasted include:

All around, it was a blast! Thanks George and Japanese Culinary Center for a great class and fun evening.

George Teaching Sake 101

With George-sensei and some Hakkaisan Honjozo

Interview: Yohei Ito, Akita Seishu Brewery

Mr. Yohei Ito

Late last year, had the opportunity to meet Mr. Yohei Ito of Akita Seishu Sake Brewery. Akita Seishu is well known for many delicious sakes including both the Kariho and Dewatsuru brands. Mr. Ito was kind enough to agree to answer some questions about the sake world from his point of view.

Timothy Sullivan: How do you describe your sake to people drinking it for the first time? What is your message to U.S. consumers of your sakes?

Yohei Ito: The history of Japanese sake overlaps with 2,000 years of Japanese history. Please enjoy the wonderful taste of Japanese sake which has been perfected through this long history. At the same time, Japanese Sake continues to evolve. To this end, new types of Japanese sake are being imported to the US. I hope that you have found your favorite Japanese sake.

Timothy Sullivan: What is special about Akita Prefecture that gives your sake it’s unique character? 
Yohei Ito:
AKITA prefecture, similar to other places known for Japanese sake, is blessed with an abundance of natural resources. Amongst those, there are three things that are particularly unique to Akita Prefecture:

1) Abundance of water sources
The west side of Akita prefecture is coastal while the surrounding north, south and east sides are mountainous. Therefore the rain that falls upon Akita seeps into the surrounding mountains and becomes underground water, which then becomes water sources with many characteristics. These different types of water sources, when used in making sake, create unique taste of the Akita sake.

Our brewery uses the water source from the Dewa mountain range which is a very soft type of water. With this water we use a process such as “Kimoto jikomi” which is a long-term low-temperature fermentation to create a very refined tasting junmai shu.
In addition, we also use a water, rich in minerals, that surfaced from the bottom of the ocean 15,000,000 years ago. This water is used for making sake that is stronger and more vibrant in taste.

2) Abundant variety of sake rice
Akita prefecture is not simply known for rice production but also for its abundant rice varieties. Many types of rice are produced for sake . To name a few, akitasakekomach, miyamanishiki, akinosei, misatonishiki gin no sei, kame no o, are produced as sake rice. In addition there are certain rice that are only grown and harvested in Akita. Such rice also provide character and uniqueness to Akita sake.

3) The existence of a Toji group
In Akita prefecture, we have a group/association of Toji called the “San nai Toji.” Such an association is critical to the improvement/enhancement and sustainability of sake brewing techniques. More recently we see more heirs to breweries also become a toji. This unique environment in Akita has facilitated an opportunity for elder toji and younger successors to collectively compete for better techniques.

Timothy Sullivan: What is the most important factor that influences the taste of your sake? rice? water? koji? Brewing Technique? etc…?

Yohei Ito: The key ingredients that influence the outcome of the taste of our brewery’s sake is not surprisingly the quality of water and the way in which the koji is made, the temperature and length of fermentation. By leveraging the humidity and the cold winter climate, we try to achieve refined flavorful sake.

Timothy Sullivan: What role does modern technology play in your sake brewing? What role does tradition play?

Yohei Ito: Today’s technology creates an environment with improved repeatability which allows us to develop a more superior yeast and koji during the brewing processes. While the traditional techniques (such as kimoto or yamahai style) provide the unique characteristics to the sake’s taste.

Timothy Sullivan: What would your advice be for any Americans who want to learn about sake?

Yohei Ito: Given the complexity of Japanese law and regulations, it seems that it would be hard for an American to learn about Japanese sake. The intriguing part of Japanese sake, similarly to wine, is the variety of tastes that are created from the many regions’ unique history, environment and the brewery. Therefore, I believe that in having an interest and learning the background of the Japanese sake will enhance the drinking experience making the sake even more delicious.

Timothy Sullivan: How do you see the future of sake in the USA?

Yohei Ito: In more metropolitan cities like NYC, there is a growing number of people that love Japanese sake. However for the majority of the people in the US sake remains an unknown beverage. For this reason, I believe that we are merely just beginning to see the potential of sake in the US. For my part, with great enthusiasm, I would like to continue to convey the joy and tastiness of sake to those who have yet to discover. My hope is that someday soon, more Americans are able to identify their favorite sake and effortlessly select from the various types; and I hope to contribute to this effort.


Thank you Ito-san! Very interesting, thoughtful and informative answers! I am happy to hear you are enthusiastic about the future of sake in the U.S.! I am too. I hope many more people here in the States will taste your Kariho and Dewatsuru Brands of sake. Kanpai!

NYC: Kubota Night at Sakagura




Sakagura and Asahi Shuzo present
9:00 PM TO 11:30 PM

Sakagura is very proud of announcing to its much-anticipated sake tasting event. On Friday, we will play proud host to the most distinguished brewery, Asahi Shuzo that is well known by “Kubota” series from Niigata, Japan. (

We will welcome Mr. Masamichi Sanjo from Asahi Shuzo as a special SAKE lecturer. Tasting will feature carefully selected six kinds of sake.

Kubota Junmai Daiginjo Set (50ml each) $34.00
· Kubota Manju
· Tokugetsu – Harvest Moon –
· Senshin – Sophisticated Mind –

Kubota Savvy Set (50ml each) $17.00
· Kubota Hyakuju
· Kubota Senju
· Kubota Kouju
Served with Salmon Lightly Fried and Served in a Dark Vinegar Marinade

Plus, special gift from Asahi Shuzo is being panned for you! Prompt RSVPs are recommended for an evening and not to be missed!

RSVP HOTLINES: 212-953-SAKE (7253)

*RSVP will be taken on a first-come first-serve basis. We cannot hold orders in advance.

We are looking forward to seeing you. Kanpai!!

212-953-SAKE (7253)

Business Hours:
Mon-Fri 11:30 AM – 2:20 PM
Mon-Thu 6:00 PM – 11:45 PM
Fri-Sat 6:00 PM – 12:45 AM
Sun 6:00 PM – 10:45 PM

Organic Akira Sake Events in NYC

There are several upcoming sake events in NYC that introduce the exciting new AKIRA brand of organic junmai sake from Ishikawa prefecture. This sake is not yet for sale in the US market, so this is a very RARE chance to try this delicious organic sake rice made into a beautiful sake!

Dont’ miss these events on Feb 4th:

I had a chance to sample this Akira Junmai and it rocks when gently warmed. Once of the best warmed sakes ever!

With Organic Akira Junami