Dassai Sparkling!

Last night I spoke at a fun and unique Dassai Sake Brewery Tasting. The event was held at The Brooklyn Kitchen and featured four kinds of Dassai Sake, food cooked to prefection with Dassai Sake Lees by Chef Mori of Kyoya and outrageously awesome artisanal meats and cheeses.

I did a short lecture and slideshow featuring a sake 101 and showed some pictures from my visit to Dassai in Yamaguchi, so that all the guests could get a feel for the place that Dassai is made. Mr. Sakurai, 4th Generation Kuramoto from Dassai also spoke about his brewery’s policy on quality and wonderful ingredients.

Dassai Sakes served at this event:

This event was outrageously fun! There were so many unique tastes (Hello, hand-crafted Lamb Bacon!) that I felt as if I learned something new with each bite and sip. The class was split on their favorite Dassai! Some Loved the Dassai 23 while others swore allegiance to Dassai 50 and some were on my team – team Dassai 39! It’s all in good fun and I think everyone really enjoyed. Can’t wait for the next Dassai event! Check out the gallery below to see more pictures from the event.

Mr. Uenoda from Tenryo

I found myself in the east Village this past weekend and made it in time to stop by Sakaya for a nice tasting! This day, Rick and Hiroko were featuring a sake from the Tenryo Sake Brewery in Gifu, Japan. Mr. Matasuke Uenoda, Marketing Director from the Brewery was there to pour and introduce their delicious Tenryo Hidahomare Junmai Ginjo.

The sake catches your eye on the shelf. Each and every bottle comes swaddled in a cool bamboo sheath that you can certainly reuse as a neat catch-all when your sake is gone. The taste of this junmai ginjo is bold and has a nice flavor of rice on the mid palate. Overall smooth and very versatile. I imagine pairing this sake with many different foods!

Tenryo Junmai Ginjo

Again, I think here that versatility is the name of the game. The rice used here is also special – it’s a Gifu specialty known as “hidahomare” sake rice. Unique and only from Gifu.

If you haven’t had a chance to try Tenryo yourself, join me for a Tenryo Sake Tasting at Sakagura on July 31st 2012. Mr Uenoda promised me there would be delicious and exciting sake to try! Can’t wait to see what surprises await.

Shichida Junmai Ginjo

Sing it with me: “Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens and Shichida Sake are a few of my favorite things!” Well… that being the case, I would never miss a Shichida Sake Brewery tasting! Brewery President Shichida was in town and a festive night at Sake Bar Kirakuya was planned… It’s on!

When I arrived, the place was packed! It was one of those steamy Manhattan summer nights and it felt like half of midtown was finding shelter and chilled sake at Kirakuya. After snagging a spot at the bar, I didn’t waste any time in getting my hands on the tasting set. On this night, the Shichida tasting set consisted of:

Shichida Tasting Set:

Iuchi-san and Yukie-san

What is it about the Shichida Sakes that I love so much? Well, the best I can describe it is that their sakes live on the crossroads of smoothness avenue and depth-of-flavor street.

Last year I awarded their Shichida Junmai a 2011 Golden Masu Award for this very reason. As I said then, whatever you’re doing down there in Saga, it’s working!

Akaboshi-san pours my tasting set

President Shichida also has a great sense of humor and really has fun in the sake business. Also in attendance were some sake all stars! Yukie-san from Sakagura, KC from NihonshudoNYC, Hiromi Iuchi from Kuramoto US, Yoshida-san from Tedorigawa and Akaboshi-san, in house Sake Sommelier at Kirakuya. It was a lot of fun!

On this night, for anyone who ordered a bottle of sake, he had a box where you could draw a ticket for a chance to win one of three prizes like a shichida t-shirt or a shichida sake cup. Unfortunately, I drew the “sorry, better luck next time” ticket… twice! But, even though I didn’t win, I felt like a winner just drinking the sake. If you haven’t yet, give some Shichida Sake a try, and I know you’ll feel like a winner, too.

Another Night, Another Kagatobi! The good folks from Fukumitsuya Brewery have been in town and hosting events all over the city. Last Thursday was a special night with Kagatobi sake flowing freely, all poured by Mr. Yageta vising all the way from the brewery! They were offering a special price on the bottle of Kagatobi Junmai Ginjo with appetizers included. Who could resist?

I enjoyed myself a lot on this trip to Shinbashi. Chef Nakajima commands the sushi bar and is the very image of what you expect in a sushi chef. White coat and hat? Check. Deadly serious knife skills? Check. Encyclopedic knowledge of fish? Check. Funny wit and unexpected joke to keep you laughing? Check!!

The fish I enjoyed this night at Shinbashi was delicious! Kagatobi Junmai Ginjo is a wonderful sake for pairing with the best fish. It’s clean, smooth and round with a whisper of rice essence on the palate. You should also know that Fukumitsuya Brewery is located in kanazawa City, Ishikawa Japan. Kanazawa is world famous for it’s high quality fish… so these brewers know good fish and good sake. IN addtion to the Junmai Ginjo, We also enjoyed the refreshing and creamy Kagatobi Junmai Nigori Sparkling.

As Yageta-san continued to pour delicious Kagatobi, Chef Nakajima also wowed our palates with delicious fiddlehead fern tempura and clam miso soup – just yum! If you missed Kagatobi Night at Shinbashi – check out these pics to see what went down. Hope to see you at the next sake event! Kanpai!

Shoji-san with Naraman Sake

Nishimoto Sake Importers hosted it’s annual big sake blowout on June 3rd at the Astor Center in NYC. The tasting this year was a big deal because the event marked the 100th anniversary of Nishimoto in the U.S.

This Nishimoto event was open to businesses only, but I was able to get inside to take some photos to share with you!

First, if you’re interested in learning about these breweries, check out this list below. You can get an overview of their companies and see the sakes they are importing now:

Learn more about Select Breweries at this event:

The Nishimoto Event was packed and popular with folks from many restaurants, bars and lounges tasting all kinds of sake. But it wasn’t just drinks – There were three great chefs doing live cooking demos as well: Greg McCarty from Tribeca Grill, Christopher Lee from Huntington Social and Katsutaka Iimori from Blue Ribbon Sushi.

Sawanotsuru Sake

The sake being served was in a wide range of styles and I can honestly say there was something for everyone. In addition, some new and interesting brews were on the scene! I enjoyed a new Shirataki Jozen Mizunogotoshi Junmai sake which was sturdy and quite dry, a delicious new direction from the clean and light Niigata style they are known for. I also had fun tasting a very unique sake, the new low alcohol Homare Strawberry Nigori… a smoothie-like confection that will convince you Jamba Juice has gotten into the sake game. Another sake I went back to again and again to sample was the Kagatobi Ai Junmai Daiginjo Shiboritate Nama – rich and smooth with a fresh edge that woke up my palate and always left me wanting one more sip!

Exploring the well-edited selection of breweries represented at this event was such a great way to spend the afternoon. So be sure to ask for sakes from all these breweries at your local bar or restaurant. There is truly something for everyone. Congratulations Nishimoto on the first 100 years in the U.S. – here’s a toast to the next 100! Kanpai!

This past Saturday, the Brooklyn Kitchen hosted a sake tasting. The 3 hour tasting cost a mere $25 and was sincerely an amazing opportunity to meet some sake brewers live and in person and immerse yourself the intoxicating world of Nihonshu. So, as you can well imagine, this Manhattanite I got out his passport and headed across the river to Williamsburg.

Brooklyn Kitchen is an amazing place – consider it a grocery store/artisanal butcher/cooking school/event space. When I arrived, the space was packed to the rafters with Brewers… and hipsters! But all joking aside, it was wonderful to see so many younger folks literally lining up to try sake. The brewers pouring on this day came from all over Japan and there were a lot of diverse styles to taste.

I enjoyed all the sakes I got to try, but it was a special treat to re-visit some of my tried and true favorites! Of course, just the day before this event in Brooklyn, I had a blast at Sakagura’s Kagatobi Night, and lo and behold, they were here again serving their delicious Kagatobi Ai Junmai Daiginjo. I also always enjoy seeing Mr. Shoji from Yumegokoro Brewery, makers of Naraman, serving his delicious Naraman Bin Hiire Muroka Junmai.

Other treats included meeting the Toji (Master Brewer) of Echigo Denemon Brewery Mr. Ozaki. He was very keen on practicing his English and I asked him about the long hours a Toji puts in on the job – It’s hard work, but – in any language – you can’t argue with the results!

I also enjoyed catching up with Ms. Funyu from Urakasumi Brewery. I had the pleasure of meeting her last year during our 2011 sake volunteer trip to support Tohoku. Urakasumi is always a wonderful treat… a delicious brew from Miyagi! Funyu-san updated me on the progress of reconstruction at the Brewery – the news was good and all construction and repairs are almost completely done! Great!

Before too long, it was time to head back into Manhattan after this fun afternoon of sake sipping, Billyburg-style. I hope Brooklyn Kitchen plans many more sake events in the future. Can’t wait to try more sake across the River!

Tasting Set

I recently attended a fun evening at Sakagura Restaurant featuring Kagatobi sakes. Kagatobi is one of the flagship brands of the Fukumitsuya Sake Brewery.

Visiting all the way from the Fukumitsuya Brewery were Mr. Fukumitsu and Mr. Yageta to introduce their sakes to Sakagura’s guests. This night there was a special sake tasting set featuring three unique and different kagatobi sakes, namely, Kagatobi Junmai Ginjo, Kagatobi Sparkling Junmai Nigori and Kagatobi Sennichi Kakoi Junmai Daiginjo Koshu.

Special Water

The tasting set was a lot of fun and the unique range of sakes (koshu, nigori, junmai ginjo…) served at once, allowed for a big range of pairing options – and I took full advantage! I tried some grilled squid, yellowtail sashimi, shrimp balls, white asparagus, tsukune grilled chicken… Oh, my, I was a little bit in hog heaven with these sakes to taste alongside the yummy food from Sakagura.

Fukumitsu-san and Yageta-san stopped by each table that ordered the tasting set and gave a wonderful thank you gift of a bottle of “shikomi mizu” or brewing water from the brewery along with a cute kagatobi ochoko sake cup. Neat – and I can tell you from having visited the Brewery in 2008, that the brewing water is off the hook fantastic. What a treat! I don’t think I’ve gotten this excited about bottled water in a while. Watch your back Perrier!

What a fun evening – Please check out the event the UrbanSake.com Events Calendar to keep an eye out for future events at Sakagura and around the City.

You can learn more about Kagatobi and Fukumitsuya here:

Fukumitsuya Sake Brewery
Kagatobi Sakes