Happy Sakagu-Year

logo.jpgSpending New Year’s eve at Sakagura is a tradition Scott and I started last year. It’s a new tradition that’s hard to argue against. What better way to ring in the new year? Drinking some of the best sake to be found in New York!

Sakagura Manager, Mr. Kadoi, greeted us warmly at the door and made us feel very welcome. I could just tell there was a festive feeling in the air. Once we were seated, I was quickly reminded how overwhelming the Sakagura sake menu can be. Page after page of choices! Since it was a celebration, I decided to focus my selections on the “Daiginjo” portion of the menu. um… even then, I was still a little overwhelmed. Mr. Kadoi introduced us to our waiter Yuki who advised us well on our first choices.

Tokugetsu.jpgMy first delicious sake of the evening was Tokugetsu Junmai Daiginjo (Asahi Brewery, ALC 15.5%, SMV +2, Acidity 1.3, Seimaibuai 28%). This velvety gem was a real find. With a Seimaibuai of 28%, Tokugetsu is made with only a tiny portion of the rice grain as they grind away 72% of the outer hull and only the purest starches remain for sake making.

The color was crystal clear and I only got slight hints of citrus in the nose. This sake really shines on the palate… it felt like a yummy steamroller over my tongue. There was a hint of velvety consistency there that rolled delightfully around my mouth. The finish was quick and left you contemplating the steamroller that just bowled you over. This is really one of the great sakes I’ve had and it was a real treat to get to try it. I enjoyed every sip!

hyousho_nigori.jpgMr. Scott ordered a sake from his favorite section of the menu – Nigori! He kindly let me drink one sip – er, a couple sips… um, I mean several sips of his Nigori. Scott chose the Amanoto Hyosho Usu-Nigori (”Diamond Dust”, Junmai Ginjo, SMV -2, ALC 15.3%, acidity 1.3, Seimaibuai 50%) This Nigori was a lacy white color in the glass. The nose was yeasty and not really for me.

I found The texture was very light and pleasant – I found that this mouth-feel was the best thing about this sake. The flavor had moments of less-than-perfectly balanced alcohol tones peeking through. This might be a good choice if you like your nigori texture light and breezy and your alcohol straight up.

kirinzan_daiginjo.jpgMy Second full glass of over the top luxury was the amazing Kirinzan Junmai Daiginjo (Niigata Prefecture, SMV +3, Acidity 1.3, Seimaibuai 45%, Alc 15.5%). Not only does this sake have one of the more beautiful sake bottles i’ve seen, but also had an amazing diamond clear color that was really stunning and literally sparkled. For me, the nose and palate of Kirinzan contained tiny hints of liquorice. nothing overbearing by any means, but an intriguing background note. This sake is also a super smooth operator. Imagine smooth and then take it up a notch. Unbelievable.

Last but not least, I asked Mr. Kadoi for a recommendation. After all those daigino high notes, I wanted to come back down to earth and requested ideas for a good junmai ginjo. Mr. Kadoi offered us a really special treat that capped of an amazing evening of tasting. He poured us a Special Reserve Sato no Homare (“Pride of the Village” Junmai Ginjo) especially bottled in a small sake cask. This treat I quickly dubbed the “Switzerland of Sakes”. It tasted clear as a bell with a pronounced neutrality in flavor coming across as crisp and clean as a newly pressed linen shirt. Also a very quick finish.sato_no_homare_junmai_ginjo.jpg This special reserve Junmai Ginjo was very delicious and a very, very wonderful indulgence! I loved it.

Before our night was over our waiter Yuki warned us the kitchen was running low on the homemade Toshikoshi soba noodles. As I understand it, eating ToshiKoshi soba noodles on New Year’s is a tradition as long noodles symbolize long life… at least I think that’s right.

Now I have never known much about soba per se, but this soba was a revelation! light delicious and perfectly textured and that lightness blended perfectly with the magnificent sakes we were enjoying. yum.

A little green tea ice cream and I was blissed out and ready to say goodbye to 2006. I wonder if it’s too early to book my reservation for New Year’s Sake-Eve 2007?