Masumi Arabashiri

When I was a little kid, I knew Easter and the promise of Spring was on it’s way whenever I saw those Cadbury bunny chocolate eggs start to appear in the supermarket. I would also totally get a tummy ache from always eating too many, but despite this small roadblock, I still looked forward to them every year.

Now that I’m all grown up, I have a similar herald to the coming of spring: Masumi Arabashiri Nama Sake! Masumi sake brewery was in town to promote the arrival of this delicious Nama. In all, I attended three Masumi events in just a matter of days.

Here’s a rundown of the Masumi Sake events that were happening in the city!

Masumi Arabashiri Pre-Release Tasting at Sakagura
Sakagura hosted a delicous and fun reception to welcome Masumi Arabashiri. Masumi President Mr. Miyasaka was on hand as well as Brand Representative Keith Norman. I first met Keith at this very spot at another Masumi Sake tasting in 2006. Mr. Miyasaka I met for the first time at the Sake Samurai Ceremony in 2007. It was great to meet them both again and such a treat to drink their fantastic sakes!

Along with some delicious appetizers, Sakagura was pouring the following sakes for the guests at this event:

With Mr. Miyasaka at Sakagura

With Keith Norman & Masumi Sake at Sakagura

Masumi Sake Pairing dinner at 1 or 8 Restaurant

1 or 8” is a new-ish Japanese restaurant located deep inside Williamsburg, Brooklyn. On the upside, the space is gigantic and the food delicious but on the downside, well… there is no downside. Masumi was wise to pick this space for a wonderful pairing dinner with their sake. The menu was unique with the biggest standout being the duck course. Along with some superb sushi, I was in hog heaven. It’s doubly great to find a new restaurant and also find your favorite sake there.

Quite a crowd for Masumi at 1 or 8

Pouring Masumi at 1 or 8 Restaurant

Andrew from World Sake Imports Introduces Masumi

Masumi Sake Tasting Reception at EN Japanese Brasserie

EN Japanese Brasserie was my third stop in the Masumi Triumvirate. EN knows how to put on a tasting and this Masumi event was no exception. With some of their delicious and most famous appetizers, EN set the perfect backdrop for some seriously delicious sake. Mr. Miyasaka introduced his Arabashiri again and I really fell hard for this year’s offering. The namas that come in from Japan taste different from year to year and Iity can tell you without a doubt that this year is a winner for Masumi! Their Arabashiri is a gem and well work the price of admission.

I enjoyed all the Masumi events and I hope they come back to New York City again soon!

Miyasaka-san and Keith-san Introduce Masumi

Masumi Nanago just chillin'

Pouring Masumi for the Guests at EN

As a part of their 2010 Grand Portfolio Tasting, I attended a wonderful sake lecture by Kazu Yamazaki of Prestige Sakes. Kazu and Mariko Yamazaki work tirelessly to promote sake and introduce their wonderful Prestige Sakes to the US. Kazu-san’s fun lecture was focused on the “grand cru” of sakes… Daiginjos and Junmai Daiginjos! ohhh. I knew this was going to be a rough tasting going in – but I knuckled down and tasted eight fantastic daiginjo grade sakes.

Sakes tasted were:

The big take away for me was that however much you may think that Daiginjo Sakes are the same each has a nuance and subtle nature all it’s own. I could get used to this.

Mariko-san Introduces Prestige sakes

Kazu-san Teaching about Daiginjo Grand Cru sakes

Tasting map of 8 sakes

Sakes on display

A Sake Industry promotion company called “Kuramoto US” recently put on a sake tasting event at the fantastic Kitano Hotel. Twelve Sake breweries were featured at the tasting, many bringing their precious and fresh Namazake for us to try. That delicious Namazake was really a highlight – but several were only for this tasting and not for sale in the US – yet!

It was really an exciting event with the attendees comprised of restaurant owners, bar managers and other food and beverage professionals. I got to meet some brewers and taste some great sakes! I can’t wait for the next Kuramoto US event!

Welcome to the Kuramoto US sake tasting!

Haruo Okasora Introduces Chiyomusubi

Chiyomusubi sake - Cup sake! My favorite!!

Michiko Kanehira presents her delicous Tomoju sake

Hidetomo Suto of Ehime's Seiryo Shuzo

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sake-hana.jpgSakétini Saturday

Saketini Saturday, Saturday, June 19, 11am-5pm
Come and join us for a berry-licious saketini day. We will combine Oregon craft sake with ripe Oregon berries. The combination of the two is a perfect example of how sake harmonizes with various types of fruit and herbs.

Location: SakeOne, 820 Elm St., Forest Grove, OR 97116
Phone: 503-357-7056 x 234
Web: www.sakeone.com

sake-hana.jpgSakétini Saturday

Saketini Saturday, Saturday, May 15, 11am-5pm
May is devoted to strawberry saketinis. Come in and enjoy a local treat, succulent Oregon grown strawberries with local craft sake. These saketinis will get you in the mood for summer fun. Featuring a special twist on traditional sake, our new strawberry infusion.

Location: SakeOne, 820 Elm St., Forest Grove, OR 97116
Phone: 503-357-7056 x 234
Web: www.sakeone.com

sake-hana.jpgSake & Oyster Fest

Annual Sake & Oyster Fest, Saturday, May 1, 1-4pm
What a fabulous way to end your work week and welcome summer! Lovers of oysters & sake are invited to enjoy freshly shucked Pacific NW oysters presented by Dan and Louis Oyster Bar, expertly paired with local craft sake. Does life get any better than this? $15.00/person includes half a dozen oysters & six sake tastings.

Location: SakeOne, 820 Elm St., Forest Grove, OR 97116
Phone: 503-357-7056 x 234
Web: www.sakeone.com

sake-hana.jpgSakétini Saturday

Saketini Saturday, Saturday, April 17, 11am-5pm
“April showers bring May flowers.” Let SakeOne tempt you their lavender infused saketinis. Lavender has a penetrating, sweetly floral & spicy aroma with lemon & mint notes. They will debut 2 new saketinis and return 1 oldie but goodie saketini, the lavender lemonade.

Location: SakeOne, 820 Elm St., Forest Grove, OR 97116
Phone: 503-357-7056 x 234
Web: www.sakeone.com
Email: tastingroom@sakeone.com

sake-hana.jpgSpring Kura Blessing (Shinto Ceremony)

Annual Kura Blessing, Saturday, March 27, 11am-5pm
Please join your local sake producer, SakeOne, at 11:00 am on Saturday March 27 for the annual blessing of your local sake brewery, presided over by Reverend Koichi Barrish of the Tsubaki Grand Shrine in Granite Falls, Washington. The ceremony will be followed by Takohachi Taiko (drumming & dance) & Obukan Kendo (modern Japanese martial art of sword-fighting). This is a complimentary event.

Location: SakeOne, 820 Elm St., Forest Grove, OR 97116
Phone: 503-357-7056 x 234
Web: www.sakeone.com
Email: tastingroom@sakeone.com

New York Vintners Hosts:

Premium Sake and Asian Tapas – April 24
April 24th at 1-3pm
What’s better than sake and small bites? Learn the secrets of pairing sake with intriguing small plates.

http://www.newyorkvintners.com/p-4867-premium-sake-and-asian-tapas-april-24-g.aspx

In March the International Restaurant Show was held at the Javitz Center. This year a large Japanese pavilion was featured and I was lucky to be asked to speak at the event. I held a Sake 101 lecture and spoke alongside Monica Samuels and Yukari Sakamoto.

This was a fun event and I was really pleased to see so many sake brewers in attendance. I love introducing folks to sake and this was a great opportunity to do so!

Welcome to the restaurant show. Photo by Noriyuki Kuroda

Teaching Sake 101 at the International Restaurant Show at the Javitz. Photo by Noriyuki Kuroda

Sake! Sake! Sake! Crowd goes wild at the Javitz. Photo by Noriyuki Kuroda

with Yukari Sakamoto and Monica Samuels. Photo by Noriyuki Kuroda

Born's Kato-san introduces his sakes

Fukuda-san pours Murai Family Nigori Genshu

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EN Restaurant Masumi Sake Tasting

The final Arabashiri Kick-off party in the lounge at EN brasserie will go off with a bang. Passed or’d huerves and the entire portfolio of Masumi Sake will be enjoyed by all. After a speech about what makes Masumi sake a industry leader we will celebrate with sake not yet available in the United States

EN brasserie-
435 Hudson st. New York, NY, 10014
(212)647-7552
www.enjb.com

March. 24th,6:00-8:00pm $37.00 per person/tickets worldsake.com

1 or 8 Restaurant Masumi Sake Tasting

Have dinner with the Mr.Miyasaka as he talks about the sake that will be paired with the four course tasting menu provided by this new inspiring Williamsburg restaurant. From traditional sushi to french inspired Japanese food, taste how they meld with his sake from Arabashiri to the prestigous Daiginjo label Yumedono. Chef Kazu Yoshida is sure to impress.

1 or 8 Restaurant-
66 S2nd St. (off Wythe)
Brooklyn,NY, 11211
(718)348-2152
www.oneoreightbk.com

March 23rd, 8:00-11:00pm $60.00 per person/reservations thru “1 or 8”

Sakagura

Sakagura

Sakagura and World Sake Imports present
MASUMI ”ARABASHIRI” – First Run – Pre-release Tasting Party
真澄“あらばしり”ナイト

MONDAY, MARCH 22nd, 2010
7:00 PM TO 9:00 PM

Spring is just around the corner, and sake connoisseurs all over Japan are rejoicing at the release of this year’s Arabashiri. Bottled young and released early, these seasonal sakes have vivid flavor, exuberant freshness and a clear, refreshing finish. Masumi’s new Arabashiri makers its 2010 U.S. Debut on March 22nd at Sakagura!

Miyasaka Brewing Company, ( http://www.masumi.co.jp/english/ ) World Sake Imports, and Sakagura invite you to come and partake in a delight! Beautiful seasonal finger foods, in a joint effort with Sakagura Executive chef, Mr. Yasuhiro Honma, and carefully selected four kinds of Masumi labels. Mr. Naotaka Miyasaka, actual sake brewer of Masumi will be here to pour for you.
Come celebrate the start of spring with great sakes and good friends!

Tasting Party Price: $25.00 (includes tax and tip)
40 Guests Limited
Prompt RSVPs are recommended. A credit Card Number is needed to process the RSVP.
Please note that this event is buffet (stand-up) style.
Tables and chairs are not available.

RSVP HOTLINES: 212-953-SAKE (7253)
RSVP TIME: MON- FRI 3:00 PM TO 7:00 PM
SAT- SUN 5:00 PM TO 7:30 PM

We are looking forward to seeing you. Kanpai!!

SAKAGURA
211 EAST 43RD STREET B1F NEW YORK, NY 10017
(BET 2ND AND 3RD AVENUES)
212-953-SAKE (7253)
www.sakagura.com

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

With Ambassador & Mrs. Nishimiya

The Consulate General of Japan in New York recently hosted a reception at the Ambassador’s official residence to promote the “Washoku -; Try Japan’s Good Food” campaign.

On a very snowy afternoon in February, press, chefs and guests were assembled to learn about the good food (and sake!!!) of Japan. This event was also a kick off for the Japan Pavillion at the international restaurant show.

Ambassador Shinichi Nishimiya welcomed us into his home and I was honored to be ask to speak and present a brief Sake 101 lecture for the assembled guests. After the speech, there was a wonderful tasting prepared upstairs which everyone enjoyed. Many sake companies were represented and provided samples for all the sakes.

Yukari Sakamoto was the MC for the afternoon and she also did a lecture on Shochu.

This was a snowy afternoon but the turn out was still strong. You can read more about this event on the website of the Consulate-General of Japan.

My Sake 101 Lecture at the Japanese Ambassador's Residence. Photo by Noriyuki Kuroda

Sake Tasting

Toshi-san and Sakurai-san introduce Dassai and other sakes

Introducing Tomoju and Ken sakes

Meeting Mr. Isawa

I had the distinct honor of meeting the president of Miyagi Prefecture’s Katsuyama Sake Brewery, Mr. Jihei Isawa, earlier this year. I tasted several of his sakes and can report they were a revelation! Isawa-san was kind enough to sit down for an interview and he was enthusiastic to introduce me to his line of “Modern Shudo” sakes. What follows is a discussion on his views of all things sake.

Timothy Sullivan: When you say your sake is “Modern Shudo”, what do you mean by that?

Jihei Isawa:“Modern Shudo” is based on the idea of how the samurai enjoyed sake back in the time when Katsuyama Brewery was founded. At that time, sake was enjoyed with a free spirit and more comfortable, flexible style. Of course, the time after WWII was challenging for price and quality of sake. But for me, our style is representative of the Edo period, so I want to revive that sense of fun and enjoyment of sake. I want to revive Edo style for our time.

Akatsuki

Timothy Sullivan: You mentioned before about the history of your brewery dating back to the famous Date Masamune. What aspects of your sake tie you to Sendai? What is special about your region that is reflected in your sake?

Jihei Isawa:

This is a very nice question. Actually Sendai is a very well known city or region which produces good rice. For example, 2/3 of the rice available in Edo was Sendai rice, so the production of Sendai rice determined the price of rice in Edo…

Timothy Sullivan: …and at that time, rice was used as money, right?…

Jihei Isawa: Yes, rice was used as money. so that is why the Date Masamune Family earned a lot. Also, this tradition continues to this day. Sendai is still famous for producing rice. That is why our sake enhances the purity of the sweetness of rice. We eat good rice every day, so we know what good rice tastes like. That is why in Miyagi most of the brewery try to express the pure essence of rice.

Timothy Sullivan: What kind of sake rice is grown in your prefecture?

Jihei Isawa: A popular eating rice is sasanishiki and hitomebore is also popular. And I have a junmai named “EN” and this sake uses hitomebore rice grown in Sendai area. The polishing rate is 55%. Sake rice is bigger that this kind of eating rice, so a 55% milling rate is the maximum we can get from an eating rice. EN Junami won a prize for best Junmai in Miyagi prefecture.

20 years ago, Miyagi announced it was the “Prefecture of Junmaishu”. With this movement, Miyagi became very well known as a prefecture for junmaishu. Our brewery is a leader in making sake that uses eating rice.

Katsuyama Den

Timothy Sullivan: How long have you been exporting sake to the United states?

Jihei Isawa:

for about 3 years.

Timothy Sullivan: So you’re just starting export…

Jihei Isawa: Yes, just starting.

Timothy Sullivan: Do you have any special message for American drinkers of your sake?

Jihei Isawa: Please compare sakes with wines. A strong point for sake is the 5th taste: Umami. To fit with the taste of Umami, sake is really the best. Wine is not so easy to pair with Umami because of it’s strong acidity. Sake has acidity, too, but it’s much lower. Acidity in sake is generally 0.4 – 2.0. but in wine it is 4.5 – 15.0. Now, that’s a lot.

I recommend that American drinkers watch for the taste of umami in Sake. At first they may not understand it – it takes time and it takes training – but in my opinion it’s worth it!

Timothy Sullivan: so now you’re in the American market and you’re introducing your sakes in the US. Where do you see the sake industry in 5 years or 10 years ?

Jihei Isawa: Sake has a happy future! Many chefs began to create food that follows the “Umami” flavor, but they don’t have a good alcohol for pairing with Umamai – they only have wines. With wine, we can’t taste the real umamai – so in the future, I believe they must have sake to pair with their foods.

Also, I think with the expansion of sake, customers will have more choice. This is a key point. Actually “shudo” lets people enjoy themselves in their style, in their taste. It will be more exciting on the table. Consumers will have more options.

Katsuyama En

Timothy Sullivan: One last question – I learned today that you are also a wine sommelier in Japan. I don’t know many sake makers who are also wine experts – what inspired you to become a wine sommelier?

Jihei Isawa:

I had a restaurant in Paris and Florence. In Paris from 1994 – 2004 and Italy from 2001-2008. So that is why. Also, we have a cooking school in Japan. It’s the biggest cooking school in the Touhoku area and we are a sister school with Burgundy wine school. Sometimes in an effort to explain the sake, I take ideas from the wine world. It’s much easier to explain for consumers. Also now, even in Japan, many people drink more wines and if i talk to them in the vocabulary of wine, it helps them to understand more easily. If I use only sake technical terms, they’ll never understand. If I start to talk with a wine vocabulary, they understand immediately.

Timothy Sullivan: So in your opinion wine is a bridge to explaining and understanding sake?

Jihei Isawa: Yes, but on the other hand, many wine sommelier in Japan, don’t drink sake. But if I explain sake with their wine terms, they will begin to drink it. In this way, I can convert a wine sommelier to a sake sommelier and a sake sommelier to a wine sommelier!

Timothy Sullivan: Isawa-san, thank you for your time!

misterwrightJFC Importers Sake tasting at Mr. Wright

Sake Tasting
Time: 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Cost: Free
Place: Mr. Wright Fine Wines and Spirits
1593 Third Avenue
New York, NY 10128
Phone: 212-722-4564
http://www.misterwrightfinewines.com/tastings.html

The Twin Cities Sake Meetup Group

Sake @ Origami

Organizer Description:
Hi Sake Fans! A quickie meetup to check out Happy Hour (5-6:30pm) at Origami, touted to be one of the best Japanese restaurants in the city. There’s food specials from cheap sushi to takoyaki to tempura and sake at decent prices. Here’s the link: http://www.origamirestaurant.com/happy_hour.html This will be one of my last meetups I will organize for the twin cities sake group, as I’m moving out of MN, so please stop by if you can and join in a final sake with me. kanpai! elise

Minneapolis, MN 55401 – USA

Thursday, March 18 at 5:00 PM

Details: http://sake.meetup.com/10/calendar/12762229/