Sake Samurai Ceremony 2012

This month, I had the wonderful the opportunity to travel to Kyoto, Japan to celebrate with three friends who were each awarded the title of Sake Samurai 2012!

I had the good fortune to be awarded Sake Samurai in 2007, and I’m over the moon to relive these good memories with good friends!

Meet the new Sake Samurai for 2012!

First up is Ayuchi Momose. I first met Momose-san when she was a sake sommelier at Sakagura restaurant. I always had lovely memories of Momose so kindly introducing me to new sakes and so many good nights at Sakagura. Momose has gone on to become the owner of a hot new sake bar in Hong Hong called Sake Bar Ginn. Check it out if you’re ever in Hong Kong!

Next is Sylvain Huet, who runs the popular La Passion du Saké Sake Blog in Paris. Sylvain is the premier sake authority in France and a wonderful guy to boot! We first met in NYC several years ago and connected as fellow sake bloggers. He’s spreading the good word of sake in the capitol of wine. Salut!

Chizuko being awarded Sake Samurai at Shimogamo Jinja in Kyoto Japan. Together with Sekiya-san of Horaisen Sake Brewery.

Last but not least is our dear friend Chizuko Niikawa Helton. Chiz also started her sake career at Sakagura Restaurant and went on to found her own sake PR and promotion company called Sake Discoveries, LLC. Chiz is well known in NYC for organinzing all kinds of sake event, tastings, fundraisers and, well, you name it! Anything related to sake, and Chiz is most likely a part of the action. I’ve had the good fortune to work closely with Chiz for several years. Congratulations!!

The Ceremony itself was little changed since 2007. I’ve found more than anything, I’ve changed! Since I became Sake Samurai 5 years ago, I’ve left my day job and devoted my work full time to the sake industry. It’s been quite the evolution! I still remember how nervous I was in 2007, but I hope I’ve grown a lot since then.

Sake Samurai Ceremony 2012 at Shimogamo Jinja in Kyoto Japan.

I want to extend my sincere congratulations to Momose, Sylvain and Chizuko. Three fantastic Sake Samurai doing good sake work around the globe! Here’s a Kanpai for lots of good sake events ahead!

Our First Urban Sake Tasting Club!

Urban Sake Tasting Club

One of my big sake goals for this year was to start a tasting club in New York City. My idea was to create a monthly meeting where folks can come together and learn a little something about sake, taste something delicious and, of course, have some fun!

Well, as of Oct 8th, we’re wheels up on Urban Sake Tasting Club!

Tenzan, Narutotai, Born: All Genshu!

The Genshus for our tasting set were Jizake Tenzan Junmai Genshu, Narutotai Nama Genshu Ginjo and Born Muroka Nama Genshu Junmai Daiginjo.

Sakagura also provided us with a wonderful appetizer to enjoy with our Sake. This time it will be a delicious “Kinoko no Ohitashi” (Seasonal Mushroom seasoned with Bonito Infused Soy). This was a great mix of several fall mushrooms! yummy!

Check out our Urban Sake Tasting Club page for updates and info about our next meetings! Hope to see you there!

NY Mutual Trading Show 2012

Mutual Trading Company has a wonderful trade show each year showcasing their food and sake products. It’s not open to the general public, but for industry folks, it’s something to look forward to each year.

Somehow, this year again, I managed to finagle my way in and enjoyed a lot of good sake. Check out the gallery below for snapshots and comments on the different sakes to discover at Mutual Trading! Kanpai for lots of good sake!

Sake Day Adventure at Sakagura

Sake Day!

Santa Claus has Christmas, Leprechauns have St. Patrick’s Day and I’ve got Sake Day. Designated as the official start day each year to the fall sake brewing season, it’s also a darn good reason to get out there and taste some sake.

Sakagura had an offer I couldn’t refuse. We’re talking about 7 Daiginjo sakes by the glass for a special price of $10.01 each (regular price $50 -23 per glass each). Mama mia, that’s the way to celebrate Sake day!

I started with Tedorigawa Mangekyo Daiginjo. This sake has the transcendent taste of a perfect daiginjo. Smooth, soft and silky, this beautiful sake is aged at a low temperature for two years for added depth. Production of this sake is limited to only 400 bottles per year. Clean, light, bright and seductive, drinking this sake at $10.01 a glass was virtual highway robbery, but I enjoyed very sip.

Tedorigawa Mangekyo Daiginjo

Next I tried the iconic Daishichi Horeki Junmai Daiginjo Kimoto. This is a pristine, perfect Kimoto Junmai Daiginjo as only Daishichi can do it. If you think Kimoto type sake is rough and tumble, you haven’t lived until you’ve tasted Daishichi. Elegant, effusive, beautiful and pure, this sake is a masterpiece!

Finally I ponied up for a fantastical Junmai daiginjo from Fukui. We’re talking of course about Born’s Yume Wa Masayume Junmai Daiginjo aka “Dreams Come True”. This aged sake is beautiful and rich with a clean palate that leaves you wanting more. It’s said that if you drink this sake, then you have dreams of our future that night. I think I clearly had dreams of drinking more Yume wa Masayume.

Grilled Ika

To wash down all this sake, I ordered a simple Sakagura appetizer of grilled squid. This was perfect to balance out all the fine flavors of sake with some clean grilled ika. delicious!!

Here’s hoping you had a wonderful, sake filled “Nihonshu no hi” or “Sake Day”! Sake production has stared in Japan and we’ve only got more and more wonderful sakes to look forward to in this brewing year! And here’s a big Kanpai to that! Thanks to Sakagura for the wonderful Sake Day celebration! Here’s to next year! Kanpai!!

Joy to the World: The 2012 New York Joy of Sake Tasting

That’s a lot of sake

The Annual Joy of Sake Event is the largest sake tasting outside of Japan, featuring over 350 sakes to taste, study and enjoy in an action packed 3 hours. This year’s Joy of Sake was a fun whirlwind as usual with table, upon table, upon table of delicious sakes to explore and lots of great sake friends, old and new, to catch up with.

Separated over two levels, sake and food from several top restaurants, are well placed and easy to navigate. The sake was judged back in July at the U.S. National Sake Appraisal held in Honolulu.

The results of that blind tasting are discernible on the tables – The entries that receive the highest scores at the Appraisal are marked with gold and silver stars accordingly. These stars let you know what the team of 10 judges liked, but the true test for anyone is to sample for yourself!

Yoshida Family Pouring Tedorigawa

Going up against this many sakes is certainly overwhelming to mind, body and palate, so I try to keep it fun and enjoy myself along the way.

This event also gives you the chance to talk to Sake Brewers who fly in just for this tasting. If you didn’t make it this year, don’t miss your chance next September!

One thing is for sure, by attending this mega-tasting, you’re certain to befriend a new sake… and find a new sake friend! Here’s to both! Looking forward to seeing you next year, Joy!

JFC Sake Expo 2012

Akiko Ohashi with Akira Sake

JFC is one of the premier importing companies that bring sakes into the U.S. and as such they have a yearly trade show which I was lucky enough to attend this year.

JFC has some wonderful sake brands in their portfolio and this year, I got to do one of my favorite things – to meet sake brewers from Japan and talk to them about their sakes. I got in a few questions in my broken Japanese, but in the end we all spoke the language of Nihonshu!

Let’s start with some of the brands that were new to me this time!

Takenosuke Yasufuku with Fukuju Sake

I really enjoyed trying this sake from Kobe – we’re talking about Fukuju sake from Kobe Shinshukan Brewery. This sake in the beautiful blue bottle was extremely balanced and elegant. Refined and pure – Loved it! Brewery President Takenosuke Yasufuku introduced me to this gem. Delicious!

Next I enjoyed a brew from Yamagata Prefecture. I’m talking about a delicious sake from Hatsumomidi Brewery: Harada Muroka Nama Junmai Ginjo. I enjoyed speaking with Brewery President Mr. Yasuhiro Harada. I think I surprised him when I mentioned I’ve been to Yamaguchi several times. This sake was rich and delicious. It’s a satisfying, full bodied, undiluted Muroka style sake.

Later, I got a chance to try some brands that I knew already and really enjoyed trying again, looking under the hood and kicking the tires.

Takakasu Nate with Kurosushi Sake

One recent favorite was Kuroushi Black Bull Junmai Ginjo from Nate Shuzoten Sake Brewery in Wakayama. This Junmai Ginjo is milled to 50% and is a fresh, smooth and citrus-y brew with a touch of richness. It’s instantly like-able and so easy to enjoy.

I got a chance to talk to Brewery President Takakazu Nate and he seemed quiet and reserved, but I think I know – he let’s his sake do the talking. Once sip and you’ll get it.

Next I enjoyed meeting Mareko Shinjo, Senior Managing Director at Suehiro Sake Brewery. This Fukushima brewery has a wide range of sakes being imported into the USA. The most well known may be the Suehiro Ken Daiginjo. It has a fruity aroma and a bit of a dry finish.

Kakutaro Kubo of Ippongi Sake Brewery with Yukie Hashimoto from Sakagura

Now JFC has lots of well known breweries, which made this event such a wonderful experience. In addition to the above, I also enjoyed talking to Akiko Ohashi representing Akira Organic Junmai Sake. I had the pleasure of visiting Kanazawa Daiichi and it was great to see Ohashi-san again! I also caught up with Kubo-san from Ippongi Kubo Honten Sake brewery and I got a taste of his secret Umeshu – Spicy! Plus they had their wonderful seasonal Nama selection on display – watch for it around town.

Shindo-san pouring Gasanryu Sake!

I also had the pleasure of seeing Mr. & Mrs. Murai from Asabiraki Sake Brewery. I’m still dreaming of my sip of Kyokusen Junmai Daiginjo. Last year I also visited Masunobu Shindo in Yamagata. He brews the outstanding Gasanryu Sakes. Always delicious!

Last but not least, I also tasted the wonderful sakes of Daishichi Sake Brewery in Fukushima. These sakes are wonderful and really transport you to another place and time. Really wonderful to enjoy these sakes and taste the full range again. They represent a true achievement in Kimoto sake brewing technique! give them a try!

The JFC event was so much fun, and I learned, and tasted a lot, too. It is always so eye opening to meet the brewers who make the sake happen. Always a thrill. Can’t wait to explore the JFC brews next year!!

Getting to Know Asabiraki at Sakagura

Mr & Mrs. Murai from Asabiraki Sake Brewery with Sakagura General Manager Yukie.

I didn’t know much about Asabiraki Sake Brewery in Iwate, but Sakagura gave me a chance to fix all that. They invited Brewery President Mr. Yoshitaka Murai to introduce his sakes at a special tasting event last week.

First things first. As soon as I got there I sat down and ordered the tasting set – it was an eclectic, engaging and ranged from Junmai Daiginjo to Honjozo to Umeshu. Here is a rundown of the Asabiraki tasting set I enjoyed at Sakagura:

Asabiraki Tasting Set:

The Kyokusen Junmai Daiginjo was dreamy and intricate. Hints of dark fruit on the palate with a light handed finish. This sake is expensive and extremely high quality. I chose to drink this sake first and as I was waiting for my food, I simply savored every sip. It’s wonderful as an aperitif.

Asabiraki Tasting Set

Next I tried the Honjozo Namachozo. Brewery President Mr. Murai told me that it’s been his longtime dream to bring this sake the the U.S. This sake is light and clean with a definite brightness. I really enjoyed this sake with my Sakagura tuskune Japanese chicken meatball. This Honjozo is almost tailor made for some yummy izakaya food. Another point is that this sake is delicious but made to be affordable. The bottle is also cool. Murai-san told me it was his custom design. It looks like a frozen ice, which reflects the recommendation to serve this sake a bit colder. delicious.

Asabiraki Honjozo Namachozo

Finally, I enjoyed the Ume Kanon Junmai Umeshu. This sake is made from pure junmai and has a nice balance between sweet and tart. I also enjoy plum sake like this that is lower in alcohol. the Ume Kanon clocking in at a light and breezy 12.5%. Enjoy this chilled, with dessert or even AS dessert!

Even though I didn’t know a lot about Asabiraki Brewery before, I’m sure glad I got a chance to acquaint myself with them last week. They import quite a few sakes, so I’m looking forward to learning even more. But the one thing I do know for sure – trying new sakes always leads to great, and delicious, discoveries!

Sake Night at Family Recipe

It’s always fun to try a new restaurant, but it’s especially fun to try a new restaurant when they are having a big sake party! This was my recent experience with Family Recipe, a Japanese home style cooking place open since 2011 down on Eldridge Street.

On August 29th, they held their first Family Recipe’s Sake Social Night! Sakes were provided by KuramotoUS with a wonderful food menu made by Family Recipe.

One of my favorite dishes of the night was the delicious Heritage Pork Belly Buns. I wish I had a picture to show you, but I was so focused on actually eating them, there was absolutely no time for snapshots. There was time however for pairing with sake – and speaking of sake, here is an overview of the evening’s sakes:

Sake Selection at Family Recipe’s Sake Event!

As for pairing, The Chiyomusubi Ryo Junmai Ginjo was an excellent match for the pork bun – it had a great dry backbone that worked exceedingly well with the juicy heritage pork.

As for dessert, they served super cute mini ice cream cones with either sake kasu or green tea icecream. Again, I was eating too fast to take any pictures, but trust me – super cute and yummy. For the dessert-y beverages, I really enjoyed both the plum-y acidity of the Ippongi Ginkobai Umeshu and the refreshing bit of the Yuzu Omoi Junmai, which one guest described as “Sake Limoncello” – yup, that pretty well sums it up!

Thanks to Family Recipe for the great event – Can’t wait to try this place again for dinner. And I promise I’ll eat slowly enough to get pictures next time.

Joy of Sake Kick Off Party at Blue Ribbon Izakaya

Tasting at the Joy of Sake Kick Off Party

Sake Season is upon us! Things seemed to really get cooking with a recent event at Blue Ribbon izakaya. It was a lovely evening at the event was hosted out on the “kanpai garden” terrace – a really beautiful setting… with the backdrop of the setting sun!

Chris Pearce got things rolling with an introduction to the event, how we would be tasting and of course a mention for the main Joy of Sake event happening on September 20th. But, this event was like an appetizer… a sake amuse bouche, if you will, to get our palates in shape for the main event.

This was my first time to Blue Ribbon Izakaya and I have to say the space impressed. The Joy of Sake kickoff party was in the “kanpai garden” space – a beautiful outdoor terrace… and it was a perfect night to be outside – not to hot, not too humid – just perfect!

The sake selection was perfect, too! There were over 40 sakes in all to try and about 18 of those were not for sale in the U.S. Of the 40 sakes on offer tonight, a full 50% were Daiginjo grade – not bad! One of my favorites was a non-imported “shizuku” or drip sake from Tochigi prefecture called Saran Daiginjo Shizukuzake. It was light, delicate with the slightest hint of minerality on the palate. Imminently drinkable and a smooth operator.

On the Ginjo table, I loved a favorite of mine, the Dewazakura “Omachi” Junmai Ginjo. Wonderful Omachi Rice flavor with that signature Dewazakura fruity-melon component. Like all their sakes this one is an absolute pleasure.

This event left me wanting more and excited for the main Joy of Sake event on Sept 20th. Get your tickets now, if you haven’t already. The Joy of Sake is the big event of the year and you DON’T want to miss it! See you there and check the Urban Sake Events Calendar for all upcoming sake events. Here is to the utter joy of the Joy of Sake! See you in September! Kanpai!

Tatenokawa Times Two!

Kurosu-san with Tatenokawa

Who doesn’t love a twofer?! You know, a good old fashioned two-for-one deal? I recently enjoyed two times the fun in one night exploring consecutive sake events both dedicated to Yamagata’s fantastic Tatenokawa Brewery.

The evening started at a free tasting of Tatenokawa 33 Junmai Daiginjo at Sakaya. Doling out the goods was Brewery Rep Kurosu-san. It was great to taste this elegant sake again. With an insane milling rate of 33%, this luxurious treatment of the rice ensures a smooth as silk and easy drinking sake experience. Well priced and well received, this is a sake to savor.

Grilled white asparagus

The next stop was just down the block from Sakaya – we’re talking Robataya. Oh, ya ya ya! Robataya was offering a special tasting set on this night – a tasting of Tatenokawa 33 Junmai Daiginjo and Tatenokawa 50 Junmai Daiginjo. Priced at only $10, this tasting set was the steal of the century – incredible sake quality for a song.

At Robataya, I paired my sake with some grilled dishes. The summer white asparagus and purple Japanese imo potato caught my attention and we really enjoyed them with the delicate sake. This left me as one happy sake camper. Made me wish once again, every night could be a sake twofer.

Holy Cow: Tedorigawa Sake at Takashi Yakiniku

As a frequent traveler to Japan, when it comes to “challenging” food items I’ve come across (think fish eye collagen, fermented squid intestine, slimy natto soybeans) I own up to my limits and know when to wave the white flag and admit defeat. Raised on the standard American diet, sometimes my palate just goes on strike when faced with an exotic Japanese delicacy worthy of Fear Factor.

As I learned on a recent visit to Takashi Yakiniku Restaurant for an outstanding Tedorigawa Sake event, I don’t have to travel all the way to Japan to have my gastronomical limits tested. The event was hosted by World Sake Imports and featured special guest Yasuyuki Yoshida, the 6th Genergation Kuramoto from Yoshida Sake Brewery, makers of Tedorigawa brand sake.

The Sake

Sakes served at this event:

Yasuyuki Yoshida

The event description for this evening promised “four fantastic sakes plus a special surprise sake”. Now, when a sake brewer says he’s bringing a “special surprise sake”, you pretty much have to go. (Spoiler Alert: I kinda fell in love with the special surprise sake.)

Yoshida-san did a sake brewing internship at Dewazakura Sake Brewery, so he included the delicious Dewazakura Tobiroku Sparkling Gingo in his sake selection. It was a genius choice – the clean and dry sparkle and bubble tasted great with the steak!

The highlight of this group of really, really good sake was the surprise Tedorigawa “Kokoshu” Daiginjo. Aged for 3 years at very cold temperatures, this Koshu/aged sake was a dream. The body of this sake was ultra smooth and the palate had a ‘loft’ to it that was truly remarkable… it was akin to drinking clouds, if they were made of sake, of course. Needless to day, I heart Tedorigawa “Kokoshu” Daiginjo! From start to finish, all the sake was flawless and flowed generously!

Shock and Eeeew

I give you Testicargot with a side of lemon

On to the food. I stumbled a bit with a few of the “Horumon” dishes served at Takashi. Horumon literally means “discarded goods” and refers to serving organs, guts and offal. (I PROMISE no offal/awful jokes!!!).

The first dish that caused me pause was Nama-Senmai: Flash boiled cow third stomach with spciy miso sauce. This didn’t get better when I was presented Takashi’s Testicargot: Cow testicles served escargot style. The final stumbling block was the Horumon Moriawase: Chef’s selection of offal including cow first stomach, cow fourth stomach, heart, sweetbreads (thymus gland), and liver, all to be grilled at the table yakiniku style. I didn’t touch any of the above with a ten foot pole. But did I go hungry? Not on your life!

Other Meats
Where Takashi really shines for me is in the standard cuts of beef, dressed in delicious marinades and grilled right in front of you at the table. These cuts included beef belly, kobe short rib, harami skirt steak and thinly sliced beef tongue. Followed by a nori wrapped rice ball and some fantastic salty caramel soft serve, I was set!

Hands Across the River

Hands Across the River

As the event was winding down, Yoshida-san thanked all the guests for coming and said a few parting remarks. He explained the meaning of his brand name “Te-Dori-Gawa” which roughly translates to “Hands bridging across the river”. This is a reference to they way people used to cross the river before a bridge was there – people would join hands and form a human chain to span the water.

Then suddenly, without prompting, all the guests at Takashi spontaneously clasped hands down the length of the restaurant and cheered for Te-dori-gawa! Ladies and Gentlemen, that is sake magic at work!

This was a delightful, really fun and gastronomically adventurous event, even if I skipped the really scary stuff. And, seriously, you can’t beat that delicious Tedorigawa Sake. I’d stare down a whole corral of Testicargot for just one more sip of Kokoshu!

Ten-Qoo Tuna and Sawanotsuru at Inakaya

FIsh heads, Fish heads…

Thanks to my friend Chiz over at Sake Discoveries, I was recently able to get a front row seat to something unusual – a bluefin tuna butchering at Inakaya Restaurant. Now, I know the mere mention of bluefin tuna sets off all kinds of eco alarm bells for those of us rightly worried about overfishing and depleted oceans, but this was tuna with a twist. A product of Ten-Qoo Maguro, this tuna was billed as the first farm raised, environmentally friendly and sustainable bluefin tuna production in the world.

When I arrived, we were greeted with a wooden masu full of Sawanotsuru Junmai Genshu as a welcome sake. The 70 lb tuna was laid out on the table and I snagged a front row seat to catch all the Kill Bill action close up. If you’ve ever filleted a whole fish at home, it’s just like that, but just a whole lot bigger.

Sawanotsuru Genshu Junmai

The first step was to remove the head, which was held aloft triumphantly, once it was finally separated from the body. Next the fins and then the top flank were removed to essentially cut the fish horizontally in half and expose the backbone. Next, the other flank was removed and the tail and backbone finally removed.

The big hunks of tuna were then quickly processed down into smaller uniform slabs and removed to the kitchen. Before I knew it, there was very fresh o-toro sushi in front of me ready to eat! Now I know why sushi is considered the original fast food! The taste? it was delicious. And great to enjoy with the Junmai Genshu from Sawanotsuru Brewery.

If you want to see the spectacle of a huge tuna fillet for yourself, Inakaya is offering two more shows on August 17 and 24th, 2012. Check the Urban Sake Event Calendar for details.

Ice, Ice Baby: Enjoying Shichihonyari On the Rocks

Yasunobu Tomita

The good folks at Sakagura have put on another fun and exciting sake brewer event! This time it was Mr. Yasunobu Tomita, executive director of Tomita Shuzo from Shiga. I visited this brewery waaaay back in 2008.

Tomita-san arrived with a trick up his sleeve… he brought with him a new kid on the block: Shichihonyari Junmai Ginjo Nigori sake. I asked him about the profile for this new sake and he told me his goal was to create a nigori with a thick body that was not sweet but more dry and clean. Next, Tomita-san kinda shocked me. He recommended I try his nigori Junmai Ginjo on the rocks. I’d had Nama Genshu sake on the rocks, but not really a nigori.

Chillax! Shichihonyari Nigori on the rocks.

Well, I gave it a try and wowza, was it good. I actually tried on the rocks side by side with the identical nigori with no ice. There really was a difference. I think it effected the temperature, chilling the nigori a bit more and also bringing down the alcohol just a touch with the melting of the ice. Whatever it was, it works! I might have ordered a second carafe of Tomita’s nigori to experiment more with temperature – all in the name of sake science mind you.

Shichihonyari Tasting Set

The Shichihonyari tasting set was rounded out with their elegant but strapping Shichihonyari Shizuku Junmai Daiginjo and the classic, robust and beloved junmai for serving warm, the Shichihonyari Junmai. Everything was delicious and truly indicative of their artisanal nature – hand crafted, solid and elegant.

As a young sake brewer, Tomita-san is part of the new generation of Kuramoto leading us to find unique and fresh ways to enjoy their sake. On the rocks, gently warmed, room temp, chilled in a wine glass – sake can do it all. Now let’s get out there and start experimenting with temperature! I’ll bring the ice.

Tenryo Night at Sakagura

Yummy Tenryo Sakes

Last night was another fun sake tasting event at Sakagura! This time, we were enjoying the sakes from Tenryo Sake Brewery. On hand to introduce the sakes was Mr. Matasuke Uenoda, marketing director of Tenryo Brewery. Tenryo is in Gifu Prefecture – a place I’ve never been and honestly don’t know much about. Uenoda-san brought some brochures showing the beauty of Gifu Prefecture – beautiful landscapes, Japanese hot springs and cultural heritage sites… it all looked very intriguing. I think I have to make a plan to visit Gifu soon!

The Tenryo tasting consisted of 3 sakes:

Tenryo Tasting Set:

Sakagura’s GM Yukie-san with Uenoda-san from Tenryo

Each sake had it’s own unique character. The Tenryo Tobikiri Tokubetsu Junmai doesn’t appear to be sold in the U.S. and uses the special Hidahomare sake rice from Gifu. The second sake, the Tenryo Hidahomare Junmai Ginjo is a beautiful sake that goes well with izakaya food. this sake was so good, I ordered a carafe for myself after my tasting set was long gone. Last but not least I enjoyed the Tenryo Junmai Daiginjo Koshu. This smooth operator of a sake uses pink nadeshiko flower sake yeast and a three year aging process in the bottle in cold temperatures to deepen and round out the flavors. It’s very easy drinking and just plain delicious.

Well, the Olympics may be going on in London right now, but I feel like I won a gold medal in sake appreciation right here in New York City. All those years of training paid off! Thanks to Tenryo and Sakagura for making my Olympic dream come true!

New Video Series: Sake Q&A Tuesday!

Do you have questions about Japanese Sake?! Well I’m serving up sake answers! Today we’re launching a new sake web video series called “Sake Q&A Tuesday!” You can send me your sake questions and each Tuesday I’ll answer one reader’s question in a web video. To submit your question, you can email me at or visit and fill out the form to submit your question!

Here is our first question and video, a great question about how to store sake. You can see all videos in the series here. Thanks for watching!

Tedorigawa Glitters at Sakagura

Tedorigawa Tasting set

The event packed schedule at Sakagura rolls on! Last night’s event centered around a beautiful Tedorigawa sake tasting set featuring three standout Tedorigawa Sakes. Each set was presented by Yasuyuki Yoshida, the 6th Genergation Kuramoto from Ishikawa Prefecture’s Yoshida Sake Brewery, makers of Tedorigawa brand sake. Yoshida-san visited every table that ordered the tasting set and introduced his sake and his brewery to the guests. Here is the skinny on the tasting set:

Tedorigawa Tasting Set:

Yukie-san and Yoshida-san

The three Tedorigawa sakes were standouts. The Tedorigawa Kinka Daiginjo Nama is a wonderful summer unpasteurized sake, fresh and juicy. Next, the Tedorigawa Yamahai Junmai was a classic yamahai style sake that is a real winner for the lovers of dry sake. Last but not least is the super luxurious Tedorigawa Mangekyo Daiginjo. Yoshida-san told me that they only produce a mere 400 bottles of the beautiful sake every year, making it exceedingly rare. It’s an ephemeral daiginjo with a smooth, silky and elegant body. It’s expensive and worth it.

Gold leaf on Kinka Daiginjo

Yoshida-san treated me to a Ishikawa specialty. Ishikawa prefecture is world famous for it’s production of gold leaf. The Japanese believe that consuming gold leaf is good for your health. I received a sprinkling of gold leaf to top off my cup of Tedorigawa Kinka Daiginjo Nama. You can’t taste the gold when you drink it down, but I couldn’t help feeling like a million bucks on the inside.

As Yoshida-san explained to me, creating the Tedorigawa Kinka Daiginjo Nama was a way to try to express the beauty of Ishikawa Prefecture in a sake. “Kinka” means golden blossom and represents two things Ishikawa is famous for, the plum blossom and gold leaf. The taste is fresh, elegant and evocative, just like beautiful Ishikawa Prefecture. This sense of place and depth of meaning in their sake is one thing that makes Tedorigawa so special. Remember, all that glitters is not gold – it may be your sake! In The Press

Click on a year below to view our Press


April 20, 2017 | LA Weekly Online
Saké Is Beer, Not Wine — and This Documentary About It Is Beautiful

Quoted Tedorigawa Daiginjo Koshu Tasting note:
“As with Jiro Dreams of Sushi, viewers will have an urge after seeing the film to head to the nearest izakaya or sushi bar. In Los Angeles, Sushi Go-55, Mori Sushi and n/naka often carry the Tedorigawa daiginjo made by the Yoshida brewery. Timothy Sullivan of describes it as so light on the palate that it tastes like ”drinking clouds made of saké.” Insight into the traditional beverage-making process will add a new layer to any future saké drinking. “


Press listings from 2016 to be posted soon.


April 2015

NHK World
Our Spring 2015 tour was featured on Japanese TV on the NHK world channel.
Watch the Video


January 1 2014 | Japan Airlines AGORA Magazine (Japanese)


Nov 18, 2013 | Asahi Shinbun, Tokyo
My Point of View (Japanese) [PDF]

July 2, 2013 |

May 23, 2013 |
GOODS: Yaletown’s Minami To Host Event With “Sake Samurai” & Hakkaisan Brewery

April 26, 2013 | Daily Sun New York
大七酒造 (Japanese)

April 2, 2013 |
Hot or Cold Sake?” on


March 12, 2013 |
New York’s Sake Culture Is the Best Outside of Japan

Feb 27, 2013 |
How to Understand a Sake Menu” on


Jan 23, 2013 | NBC 4 New York News


March 2012 | Chopsticks NY
Sneak Peek into Tatenokawa 18 and 50 [PDF]


September 30, 2011 | The Japan Times
Foreign volunteer group helps brewers to rebuild [PDF]


October 2010 | Chopsticks NY
Special Sake Talk


October 1, 2009 | The Japan Times
Sake Day Special: ‘Sake Samurai’ spreads the ‘nihonshu’ word [PDF]



December 2007 | Chopsticks NY
Voice from Dassai 23 Enthusiast [PDF]