Tokyo Table Trip

Logo discover 8a060a5a25d78a2d81322b0a16884eb1c05869ebadb772a16350e198984e5cfb

大家好,我是 ChuToroZuke!在《ChuToroZuke 的清酒誌》第 1 卷,我想從比較概括的角度探討清酒,說一說清酒究竟是什麼,以及我們應該多多品嘗的理由!

關於日本清酒

日本清酒是日本代表性的酒精飲料,毋庸置疑。清酒歷史悠久,是日本飲食文化不可或缺的一部分,而且可以入菜,有許多料理會用上。
清酒在任何場合都值得暢飲、讚頌、品賞一番,搭配得宜的話,可以大大提升任何一餐的體驗。
清酒也是最適合搭配各種日式料理的飲料之一。只要是能搭配葡萄酒或香檳的餐點,清酒都可以發揮相同的效果,有時甚至更適合!

不過很遺憾,過去 10 年裡,清酒的消費量下降很多。這是因為年輕世代對清酒失去興趣,只喝啤酒或高球雞尾酒(在燒酎或威士忌中加入冰塊、水、汽水、水果味),加上大家消費能力提高、選擇增加,愈來愈傾向喝葡萄酒和香檳,甚至吃傳統日本菜的時候也當作佐餐酒。
因此,釀造廠必須改變思考、生產和行銷清酒的方式,還必須與葡萄酒、香檳……等酒精飲料競爭,才能奪回市場,並提高海外的市占率(例如亞洲 / 東南亞、台灣、中國、香港、美國、歐洲 / 英國 / 法國)。

話雖如此,你在日本還是可以找到各種現代或傳統調性 / 風格的清酒,出了日本也是。

我認為我們這些造訪日本的遊客應該幫幫清酒產業,把握任何機會探索清酒的奧妙。清酒原本就好喝,搭配食物更是美味,而且瓶裝清酒是絕佳的紀念品和送禮選擇!

清酒用什麼釀的?

總地來說,清酒的配方如下。

1) 釀酒水 - 日本各個都道府縣水質不同,礦物質含量和硬度也不同。純淨度和水源很重要。

2) 釀酒米 - 釀酒用的稻米品種很多,有一些是日本各地具有地方特色的釀酒米(酒造好適米),各有各的獨特風味,每一種風味中還可以有不同層次與質地的組合。一般來說,米粒的中心(心白)含有所有精華澱粉,碾米的時候把米心以外的部分去得愈乾淨,通常清酒質地就愈順口,而且會產生更多果味(價錢通常也比較高)。你在清酒瓶上看到的「精米步合」四個字,代表的是碾米的比例,如果比例是 80%,就表示一粒米去掉了 20% (以米粒的總重量計算)。以「獺祭二割三分」為例,這支清酒的精米比例是 23%,表示一粒米去掉了 77% 不用。

3) 麴菌(拉丁學名是 Aspergillus)。除了製作清酒之外,麴菌還可以用來製作味噌、醋、醬油和燒酎。

4) 酵母 - 是轉化的過程中不可或缺的一部分。酵母會消耗糖,產生酒精和二氧化碳。稻米中並沒有酵母可以消耗的糖,必須先用上面提到的麴菌將米粒中的澱粉糖化,再用酵母去消耗糖。

清酒不是葡萄酒,但是由於製酒米經過發酵,所以種類偏向釀造酒。

關於清酒的命名和定義

Data

關於清酒的命名和定義

如果你偶然遇上清酒,可能會發現有純米、吟釀、純米吟釀、大吟釀、純米大吟釀這些名稱。

純米級清酒 - 意思是純粹用精米(以及水、麴菌、酵母)釀造

吟釀級清酒 - 用釀酒精米、麴菌、酵母、釀造水釀造,並加入經過蒸餾的釀造酒精,以產生(並誘發)特殊的香氣和調性。

不過這些詞彙和術語有時候會混用:

其他實用術語

有時你會在酒標上看到其他規格說明,包括甘辛度、酸度和酒精濃度,以這些資訊為根據,你會比較清楚知道一支清酒的調性。

日本酒度 (SMV) – 如果級數為 0 級,就代表這支清酒是中性,不甜也不乾。不過也有些人說現在級數 3 才算中性。
一般來說,從中性點開始,數字愈高愈乾,0 以下則是比較甜。甜味指的是殘餘的糖分和清酒本身的酒精甜味。
有些清酒聞起來有果味,芳香濃郁,舌尖嘗得到一絲甘甜,但是入喉之後卻乾而不甜,SMV 級數比較高。

酸度 - 大多數清酒的酸度在 1.3 至 1.5 之間。傳統手工釀造法造出來的酒通常酸度比較高,可以達到 1.6 以上。
低溫長時間發酵和儲存也可以把酸度提高一點點,酒體會變得更加飽滿,酒質更均衡,更適合佐餐,頗接近一些紅葡萄酒的調性。

酒精濃度 - 清酒的酒精含量會在 12% 至 14% 之間,甚至 16% 以上。如果是原酒(釀造過程中不額外加水),會比較濃縮,通常酒精含量比較高;如果是夏季出廠的清酒和比較現代風格的清酒,酒精濃度往往比較低,更容易入口,通常也比較受歡迎。

品味清酒的要領,以及必須問自己的問題

好的,現在你有機會喝喝看你好奇的杯中物了!該怎麼喝才對?

以下是單喝和佐餐時需要思考和探索的重點:

入鼻的香氣 - 拿到一杯清酒,你要做的第一件事就是好好聞它的香氣。你聞到了什麼?
可能有一點發酵味,一點泥土味(草味、米味),一點果香(蘋果香、梨香、甜瓜香、荔枝香、香蕉香),或別的什麼味道,讓你想起其他食物或其他熟悉的香氣。我曾經聞過一支清酒,讓我想起午餐肉!答案沒有對或不對,什麼樣的聯想都好,你可能會想到曾經嘗過的食物!

質地 - 清酒的口感如何?是滑順、豐富、圓潤、溫醇、醇厚,或是有一種「咬口」或刺激的感覺?試試看先把舌頭轉一轉,稍微提高酒液的溫度,再吞下喉嚨。現在嘗起來怎麼樣?
舌上的香氣 - 從觸及舌尖,到中段(可以稱為中味),一直到最後,清酒滋味如何?有沒有感覺到任何差異?是不是因為經過的時間和吃下的食物而有所不同?

餘味 - 清酒入喉,是什麼樣的感覺或味道?有餘韻駐留,或是像喝水一樣快快結束?你感覺到舌頭上還包裹著一些酒液嗎?有沒有酒精的燒灼感,讓你覺得討厭或者喜歡?

溫度 - 現在再重新來過,嘗嘗看不同溫度的清酒:很冰(攝氏 5 度),有點冰(攝氏 10 至 15度),室溫(攝氏 15 至 25 度),然後再重複一次。你最喜歡哪一點或哪一個瞬間?

希望我的第一篇文章能幫得上忙!歡迎留言或提問 :-)

作者:ChuToroZuke

ChuToroZuke 熱愛日本料理和日本文化,至今記得 6 歲年幼時的壽喜燒初體驗,尤其是壽喜燒牛肉沾生雞蛋,配一碗日本米飯吃下肚,這樣神奇的組合讓他印象深刻。時間經過許多年,4 年前的一個晚上,已經成年的他在最愛的餐廳體驗到清酒配完美下酒菜和壽司的組合,大受感動,難以忘懷,因而引爆熱情,從此走上了清酒宅之路,著迷於發現清酒,以及重新發現食物與清酒的搭配。突然之間,去東京找各種餐廳(不分高低檔)嘗鮮這件事,在這幾年變得更刺激有趣了,清酒宅因此可以好好鑽研這種酒飲,還可以和同好一起享受美酒(當然還有佳餚)。
受邀為 TokyoTableTrip 寫文是一大樂趣與榮幸,他可以藉此回饋品酒圈,協助將清酒的資訊和對清酒的喜愛散播出去,以及在海外為日本國內的清酒推廣盡一份力。

Add a comment

  • Add photos

Comments Icon comments 20b52f1dd59ace07b92433da2a385e6f7392eb2937032eebc2a0bd0b67c69516 10


ChuToroZuke

I think with Uchida you need to go with seasoned locals. I was not aware Shinof customizations, although if you just stick with the more well known skewers you are already good with sampling. Even their shochu drinks look rather hardcore.

You can check out shinkame.co.jp and their authorized retail shop shinkame.jp (I believe outside the brewery) to see their crazy lineup. I think just start with a Shinkame Junmai and perhaps the Shinkame Hikomago Junmai and see how you like it...try both room temperature and heated to 50 C and if the shop is willing, past 50 C. Then explore the Hikomago Junmai Ginjo varietals, then the Hikomago Junmai Daiginjo

The maderia colored sake or true koshu you speak of, are aged differently under different conditions. If you go to Ginza Matsuya basement, they might have verticals of Daruma Masamune koshu spanning the last 30 years or so, and you'll see the gradation of the color shades for each vintage, as well as their higher prices. If you want to experience food pairing with koshu in a koshu specific bar/eatery, highly recommend a visit to Shu Sa Ron in Shinagawa, very close to the station. The cuisine is more western approach, although the servers will be more than glad to recommend. Koshu and braised Japanese beef cheeks with cabbage is quite fantastic with koshu. They will also give you the right glass to enjoy the various koshu with. It can get a bit overwhelming as koshu can sometimes have very high acidity.

I don't speak for OL's but my feeling is that they like to go to drinking establishments that cater more to females, and perhaps have food that is a bit lighter, less greasy, great service, yet fun but not salary man necktie around forehead boisterous. Basically ladies version of male bonding kind of joints but less subdued. But it is also a culture of going to multiple drink places. Maybe a few go in groups of both male and female...but the fun is later in the evening when you see them walking (and you can tell they are super tippsy as they can't walk in a straight line) and you'll know they are completely gone when coworkers have to help them into a taxi....

Kirakutei's owners are also good friends with the master brewer of Jikon (as well as a few of the other breweries) and they have a special relationship with the shop in Tokyo that provides it to them....the likelihood of general public going to the shop and find Jikon to purchase retail is next to zero.

4 天 ago

Icon thumbup c50a5e69a172939d8f181c07defd87a40f8b5ea08aa95e4f5248647e539d2f91 Like!
Icon rply g 931a7da4f2fb72f6c47b91ce1a6ff6f0d639792b78b042247406a09dbc121382 Reply 2
Mastermind noir eyes black eyeglasses 1

Menchikatsu

Now that we've discussed Uchida more, and I've done a little reading, I definitely think asking to go with a Japanese friend, with leadership qualities, is a good idea. I thought Shimizu was a bit intimidating. But this is really quite a bit moreso.

Thank you for the Shinkame links. The bottle nearby me is indeed a Hikomago junmai daiginjo. Think I'll stop by their shop, and see if they cellar it correctly. Bottle label looks a bit different though. Has a turtle illustration on it. If I can find any of the other varieties, I will try to heat it up myself at home. I have a yukihira pot in my kitchen, and thermometer, so this could be fun.

I think this 'true koshu' aged sake is very interesting, doesn't taste like normally conceived sake at all. I will check out the Ginza Matsuya depachika for it. Don't normally hear that name nowadays, since Mitsukoshi and Isetan kind of take up all the spotlight. Although sampling koshu with the beef cheeks and other dishes you're thinking of sounds good, I am afraid to be the bearer of potentially bad news, as Shu Sa Ron is listed as permanently closed. Perhaps they have moved elsewhere, or it's a mistake.

It's nice to hear that such a party culture exists in Tokyo still. I haven't gone out as much in recent years, late at night. But I would love to end up in a place, where salary workers go wild. Pretty people are always welcome in my vicinity ofcourse, haha. I do draw an obvious visual distinction between the trendy Azabu or Marunouchi crowd vs. Shimbashi workers.
Something that really peaks my curiosity, is when I was staying in Ginza, and latenight I would go for a walk. There are so many private drivers parked outside, of what I assume to be company bosses sneaking out to hostess bars, of which the women in kimono seemed a bit more 'mature'.

I think I'd definitely like to try Kirakutei, though I'm still a bit perplexed by its identity, in cooking both high end dishes and snacks. I wonder if they'd let me step inside for just a few dishes, and a lot of sake. I would also guess that a big component of going to places like this, is the conversation with the owner, and I would be somewhat limited in my ability to converse. And I am all about the exclusive impossible to find bottles, so if I could try some rare Jikon or anything else, that would really make my day.

2 天 ago
Mastermind noir eyes black eyeglasses 1

Menchikatsu

Adding a bit of follow up to the above,

I located the umeshu you mentioned, from Niwa No Guisu. It's a green bottle called Otoro. Indeed it's quite pulpy. Fairly nice, very forward on the plums. There is however a slight, almost cough syrup taste to it. I can't compare the bottle condition, since I haven't tried it in Japan. But I would assume it's still in good condition, considering Japanese families soak their ume plums in shochu jars under their house floorboards, and the weather conditions range wildly from cold to hot, plus humidity.
I've found that Umenoyado makes quite decent pulpy aragoshi style umeshu, at that price point. So does Kumejima no Kumesen (pardon if I messed up the name). And this one was my favorite recently, Manzairaku 萬歳楽5年.

I've also just purchased a bottle of the Shinkame Hikomago junmai. Going by your advice, I'm starting from here, before going up to the ginjo and daiginjo levels. The bottle actually suggests warming to 55-60 degrees. I think they ship internationally, as this bottle has english written over it, and is rather poorly stickered to the glass bottle, haha. I'm quite a fan of design, so not having the original label bothers be slightly, but I'm sure the inside should be ok.
I will have to find a place that gives me some leeway on what I'm allowed to do. You might be horrified to know, lots of restaurants in the west actually microwave sake to make it hot. So I will try and locate an izakaya or something that can do it in a hot water pot for me.

This is a side question. But what would you say is the most recently released batch of Jikon junmai daiginjo? The wine store I sometimes visit just received a shipment in a (assumedly) sealed box. It's a 2017 bottle. But we don't know if it came directly from Japan, or was relocated from a store that couldn't sell it. The box has no Japanese lettering on it, which is suspicious, compared to every other box they received. 2017 seems a bit old to me, being it's supposed to be nama? And it costs quite a bit, roughly 20000 yen. I passed on it, being too risky. Though I am considering getting one of their junmai ginjo's, fairly priced at under 5000 yen. However, the 2017 and 2018 dates on these are also a bit old.

大约 13 小时 ago

ChuToroZuke

I no longer have the URLs but if you type in the Japanese name of Uchida and then the Japanese characters for strategy and then motsuyaki into google search you will find maybe a few blogs that really detail the rules. I had them bookmarked on my phone ready to check them out, but was a bit worried about falling ill with food poisoning (you never know with these things) before a trip to Hyogo prefecture.

Shinkame is probably one of the most otaku level sake out there, but if you ever get the chance try their second label Hikomago (grandchild), aged an additional year (2 for Shinkame vs 3 for Hikomago) and the resulting smoothness and complexity is ridiculously good. Some of these really dedicated traditional old school non celebrity breweries make sake that are so good that I think some of their top of the line offerings could give celebrity sake a run for their money and even pair better with food (and also at a fraction of the cost). I'm dying to try Shinkame Junmai Daiginjo and some of their crazy 10+ year aged koshu lineup, but those you will have to trek to Saitama prefecture to get it.

I think your chances of hitting a pretty decent izakaya or drinking hole in Shinbashi are far better than if you were to go to places like Ebisu Yokocho which is more for youngsters grabbing quick bites and moving on. As my friend used to say, if in Shinbashi just follow the salarymen, unless you want to scout out the OL's for eye candy haha but the venues they go to may be a bit different in vibe.

Kirakutei is excellent. Subjective but if you liked Kurosaki you will enjoy Kirakutei (the owners are very good friends with each other). It's an upscale kappo izakaya, super chill vibe. Chef's English is very limited although okami san speaks a little more (she's awesome too). Their sake is a bit lighter bodied but there are some very fun surprises, and some cult sake as well. Some don't like the place because for the same money you could eat a mid tier kaiseki restaurant, but others love this more casual relaxing format.

There are other neighborhoods much further out that are a lot of fun. Sangenjaya in Setagaya ward is completely unexplored territory for a lot of great local fun, but it's not for those who are uncomfortable wandering into a place where servers don't speak English and no English menu at all.

7 天 ago

Icon thumbup c50a5e69a172939d8f181c07defd87a40f8b5ea08aa95e4f5248647e539d2f91 Like!
Icon rply g 931a7da4f2fb72f6c47b91ce1a6ff6f0d639792b78b042247406a09dbc121382 Reply 1
Mastermind noir eyes black eyeglasses 1

Menchikatsu

I took a look at it. I googled 宇ち多 戦略 and translated the page. I did not realize so many items can be customized, and that lots of it are raw, and off menu. Really feels like an intimidating place. But maybe I'll have a Japanese friend look over the 'strategy guide', and we can attempt to try it. There was no line last time I went. But the place is really busy, despite the rest of the hallway being fairly empty.

Are you talking about Shinkame 'Hikomago junmai daiginjo? Or is it just under the regular Shinkame name. If so, I might be within reach of a bottle, and maybe should take a look.
I do like 10+ year aged sake quite a bit, when it turns really brown. Really interesting earthy taste. Not every day, but it's nice occasionally. Reminds me of madeira.

Yea, I've walked through Ebisu yokocho, but never really stayed. The surrounding streets are more interesting to me. The main intersection reminded me of Takadanobaba (?), I think there's a drinking alley there? Tokyo is so huge, it's hard to remember some of the places I've been, and how to revisit places, when I forget where they are. But I would love to map out every yokocho in the city, as I've done so for mostly all the central ones.
I think my main issue walking around salaryman neighborhoods is, I don't want to make a mistake, in case it doesn't taste good. So I've sometimes not walked into any place, just wandering around Shimbashi. But I do like when it pays off. So much variety in that area. Japanese breakast, with pickles and fish... spaghetti napolitan. The gyoza shop on the second floor I wandered into was pretty rowdy and fun.
I would love to know where these OL go... haha. Probably not quite 'serious gourmet' spots I'd imagine.

Kirakutei does indeed look interesting, but like you said, some of the dishes remind me of a kaiseki restaurant, and the prices reflect that. Lots of Jikon I see. I notice it's the highest rated actual izakaya in the Tokyo area on Tabelog. Maybe if I really want to have that upscale sake and snacks night, I will do it. And Kurosaki seems to have quite good taste, so I'd imagine it's a good place. He seems to be friends with quite a few well known chefs?

Last time, we scoured Kita Senju and Sangenjaya, which is a place full of surprises. My friend took me into a place called Sai 采. Was really a blast. Their sake menu is so organized, into 4 types of tastes, and they serve you from giant bottles out of one of their fridges. We were standing at a small table, not at the main counter, but in some ways, was probably a better experience. Some of the little dishes were so unusual, I couldn't even figure out what it was.
And noted, a lot of these places are really a challenge for a non-local. Another place around the corner served us 5 types of raw chicken, and threw in horse for good measure. And then a whisky bar, called Pond, with a ridiculous selection of bottles. In the daytime, I even like the bakery Signifiant Signifie. Probably the best of this type of bread I've tried anywhere.

5 天 ago

Menchikatsu

Thanks for the notes on Uchida. I didn't know everyone including myself, would have such trouble ordering. I figured all the locals already know how. Place was really packed also. I walked over to Edokko, and had basically the same food. Their menu was also difficult to comprehend, things needing to be ordered in pairs and categorized. But the proprietress was kind enough to be patient with us, and guided us through it. I walked in when there were maybe 3 other people, when I left, every seat was filled. Interesting neighborhood.

Ah, I think I grasp 'geek' sake now. It's quite similar to American craft beer scene. Throwing in unusual and rare ingredients, or doing very particular things to achieve impressive flavors. And not necessarily making huge profit from it. Yea, I think I can go with it, and get into geek sake myself. Just wish there was a more easy way of learning about each brewer's story and methods. I like people such as the one you mentioned, who go to ridiculous lengths to research and extract new ideas out of their craft. I think I've had Shinkame a few times. The sake you mention, Tamagawa, that looks to ancient recipes, that's an idea that also interests me. I'm actually starting to faze out from that period in my life, where I seek out impossible to find rare 'celebrity' sakes, and want to try more under the radar stuff.

Yep, I've got quite a few of the izakayas highlighted on this site, and ones you've mentioned below, on my list. Like the seafood place you brought up in Ebisu, Akaoya. I will take your tips into consideration, if I go to Kotaro. Not a surprising story, as most restaurants I go with a 'greatest hits' menu, tend to be disappointing. I don't exactly know who choose these 'hits' haha. But in my experience, the best dishes are never included onto that selection. Probably what pleases the most people, but certainly not the best dishes.
I was eyeing Kirakutei. Though it comes across to me as something almost aiming towards a more refined Japanese traditional kappo/kaiseki counter. Although I noted some of the more fun casual offerings. I would certainly like to go, if I feel like spending.
Would love to try more casual atmosphere places this time, even smoky is fine. Things like Sutamina-En, Uosan Sakaba, Kishidaya, Yamariki Honkan. Also noticed recently, how saturated Ikebukuro is with izakayas, as I'm there somewhat alot. Sampuku, the Chidori tofu place...
I'll look into Kanade, as I'm always passing through Toranomon, or I can just walk over to Shimbashi. Surprised you found something really good in this area. I figured all the best izakayas for 'izakaya hunters' would be in outskirt and difficult to get to areas. I've been thinking lately, there must be really great stuff in Asagaya. I also had a fantastic time a few years back at Koenji's Awa Odori dance matsuri, and noted how many pubs were everywhere.

Actually, if you want to hear a problem I run into a lot. I often walk down Corridor Gai, and wander around the maze of Shimbashi. I think I'll just walk into a random place. But it's a bit difficult to choose and not worry about picking the wrong place. So I end up relying on advice from experts like you, or desperately try to scroll through Tabelog at the last minute, haha. And yes, I don't necessarily go by the score. I feel like 7 years ago, it was very reliable, with users who wanted to portray the most accurate scores. But nowadays, it's all members/regulars, who skew the numbers at places 4.5 and above. Personally, my favorite way to 'sort' is by sheer number of 'reviews', not 'overall ranking'.

8 天 ago

Icon thumbup c50a5e69a172939d8f181c07defd87a40f8b5ea08aa95e4f5248647e539d2f91 Like!
Icon rply g 931a7da4f2fb72f6c47b91ce1a6ff6f0d639792b78b042247406a09dbc121382 Reply 0

ChuToroZuke

Also I think at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter about a sake's perceived value or celebrity status. In the case of Nabeshima vs Isojiman, a lot of this is subjective. I have not tried many of both, but for the few that I have, I like some of the lower end Nabeshima, and Isojiman the Junmai Daiginjo Omachi is excellent, but it's the version that's either 43 or 48 (I forgot which). I did try Isojiman Nobilmente 28 Daiginjo which was a sake served during the G7 summit a few years back, and they poured this at Namba Hibiya....although I felt it did not pair with anything (but don't tell that to the unicorn lovers lol) and it was unusually dry for an Isojiman. Perhaps the value depends on if you are getting it as a gift and how the receiver perceives it, or you need something to show e.g. you bring it as a souvenir back to the States and take it to a top high end restaurant and need to impress say a client or a hot date in the know. In that case you should be getting the super nice ones with the killer boxes haha.

21 天 ago

Icon thumbup c50a5e69a172939d8f181c07defd87a40f8b5ea08aa95e4f5248647e539d2f91 Like!
Icon rply g 931a7da4f2fb72f6c47b91ce1a6ff6f0d639792b78b042247406a09dbc121382 Reply 3
Mastermind noir eyes black eyeglasses 1

Menchikatsu

Oh, I think in the States or Canada, names like these, most people wouldn't even know. Probably only Japanese chefs, or people who moved from Japan that used to dine out a lot. Actually, to my surprise, I met a caucasian woman who studied in Japan, and moved back to LA, to open a sake bar. Turns out she earned a sake sommelier's license. She introduced me to aged sake, with a bottle that was 8 years. But most people who bring up the subject of sake with me, at most, they might know Kubota Manju. Some are very excited to grab that purple Dassai from duty free... so I keep my mouth shut, haha.

So the lesson you're illustrating here is, I have to be discriminating in which bottle I get. I probably can't bring back the whole set... too bad. And yea, just because there's a prestigious name, I'm still a bit critical of whether it tastes good or not. Saito-san's story on the other thread, about diners basing their knowledge of good neta based on a chef telling them how high quality/expensive his fish is, still stands out in my head.
I opened a 100 point bottle of Chateau d'Yquem sauternes recently, and was horrified to find the cork was molding, and falling apart. The wine itself had taken on a rather fermented character, quite different than its normal sweet state. But those who I asked, said that's still fine. So to make myself feel better, I'm concluding it tastes excellent. :D

I probably wouldn't be using it to impress a hot date, but just drink it myself, haha. I usually try to share with people who I think would appreciate it most. Though recently, I did meet a woman who moved from Shirogane in LA. She knew just about everything there is to know about sushi, as a former regular at Saito, etc... That's probably the person this would do well with.
I brought back that blue bottle of Hakkaisan (kongoshin?) 'diamond heart' once, which I actually quite enjoyed. And everyone was amazed by the look and taste.

(I will continue to read your post below, and reply there.)

21 天 ago
User default d6f8776075bbcbf91b3886fd7b0aeb86c94956e290bd9b9223466618a8cd47a2

ChuToroZuke

@Menchikatsu, good plan. That might work for overseas but the sake buyer at the wine shop wouldn't know the distributor side much unless they visit their warehouse. Shipment date only gives a certain clue. To be more well versed you would have to be able to discern the change in quality based on taste, and better if you've had the original bottle in Japan (or if you purchased/hand carried it yourself back home to taste). It's quite sad when you notice a dramatic difference in quality but that's how it is.

In general yes most lighter / medium bodied sake depending on how they are built and stored, within one year of bottling date is good idea. Exceptions would be for sake that is aged before release, and if aged at the brewery at room temperature. e.g. some geek level Junmai like Kikuhime and Shinkame, or even Tatsuriki Tokubetsu Junmai Kimoto (available at Natural Lawson's too in Tokyo) have various amounts of aging prior to release, so even if you stored in a cool dry place at room temperature probably would give the sake more character. If you want to age sake, it's best to keep it at a very low temperature, so you slow down and keep a consistent level of change/age/. If your refrigerator is very cold and you don't suffer a power outage, you should be ok.

I am not a huge fan of Sawaya Matsumoto. Some of the sake might be fun to enjoy as apertif but they have very limited food pairing capabilities. The baseline Sawaya Junmai is not bad but not so good for sushi. It's too light bodied and loses complexity if kept open for too long (in the case of the higher end Shuhari series Junmai Daiginjo, if not consumed within a specific period of time it becomes more sweet and you lose any effervescence). Aramasa is kind of like that as well, but I think Aramasa is a bit more versatile (personally I prefer them over Sawaya).

Honda Shoten/Tatsuriki started re marketing some of their lineup using the concept of terroir, (different rice plots) although the label showing the rice fields doesn't seem as attractive. I think this is their way (and others like Sawaya) to do what White Burgundy does for naming vineyards and cru levels, but doesn't seem to have the same impact overseas for sake.

I think the mushroom effect was due to uneven further fermentation in bottle and whatever chemical reactions occurred in combination. Plus some of these single pasteurized namas and Junmai Daiginjo's weren't meant to be kept in these various strange conditions. I'd imagine if you find wine at certain supermarkets where the turnover is low, the bottles are kept upright all the time so the cork dries out, and the temperature changes a lot, or you go to some big name wine superstore where the handling could be a bit suspect as well, the chances are you could end up with a dud. I remember buying a 2015 Pouilly Fuisse that was fantastic at a restaurant where my friend took it to, but when I bought it from the wine superstore and opened that one, it tasted quite terrible in comparison.

12 天 ago
Mastermind noir eyes black eyeglasses 1

Menchikatsu

Guess I'd just have to get lucky receiving shipments from this end. Or actually bring the bottle back myself. Still, one of the joys I get from bringing a rare bottle of sake back, is the ability to share with friends who don't know. So if I can get it pretty close to its original state, I'm pleased, especially if they think it's really good. And I can look forward to drinking sake at optimal quality on trips to Japan.

Yes, I learned my lesson in waiting too long to drink a sake I brought back. But if it's a tokubetsu honjozo and has alcohol added, I thought it shouldn't spoil as quickly as junmai ginjo. And I am really starting to like aged sake. So maybe I will starting seeking those out more, which sounds like the safer way to go. Or invest in a dedicated sake fridge.
Do you categorize "geek level" sake as sort of below 'holy grail' sort of sake, like those in your other list?

Silly me for not noticing, but the bottle I got from Matsumoto is in the very first photo on this page, the colorful ones in the center. Yea, being that I've seen the label so often all over the place, I suppose it's not as beautifully made as smaller production stuff. And the buyer who sold it to me also warned of how sweet it can be.
But the idea of studying terroir is interesting I think. I'm guessing the idea already affects a lot of young inexperienced sake buyers, in the same way people automatically assume Bordeaux is the best Cabernet grape, and gives way towards a certain feeling of prestige. I would think a lot of people automatically assume that Niigata Koshihikari makes the best sake... end of conversation. But I would think that is too much a generalization.

I've had the same problem, of trying a wonderful wine in a restaurant, but when I bought the bottle from a store, it wasn't even close. And a couple times I've run into this issue, where it's the brewer's fault, in improperly fermenting the wine, or some kind of strain of yeast or whatever infected the whole batch. And ofcourse... they don't refund you. I assume this does not happen in sake as much though.

All this sake talk has gotten me very excited. I'm putting more emphasis on trying to hit a variety of trendy sake standup bars. Also upscale izakaya this time, places like Kotaro, Kandakouju, Sasagin...
I'm not sure if it's seen the same way from your experienced view point, but for a person from outside Japan, it is very difficult to research and compare izakayas, map them out, and have the confidence to walk in and order sake effectively! Back to this website's theme of helping people on trips out. It is much easier to narrow down the top restaurants of other categories, like sushi, kaiseki, ramen, tonkatsu, etc... But izakayas and standup bars feel more like uncharted territory, intimidating for sure. I once attempted to walk into Uchida in Tateishi. I loved the editorial in Dancyu magazine. But after taking the train all the way there, and getting lost in the process, finally walking in the door, I was turned away. Though it was busy, and that could be a contributing factor, the owner felt we would not know how to order efficiently. Too bad, as I like motsu and nikomi. So this made me think, I should really come more prepared from now on! Haha. Luckily for me last time, I had a very neighborhood versed, local sake nerd take me around. Perhaps this time, I will try to be more adventurous, and just venture solo with the bit of experience I've gained.

10 天 ago

ChuToroZuke

@Guest/Menchikatsu

Not entirely...while there are some unicorn and harder to find sake, some of them (like Tatsuriki) are relatively easier to find. The idea is that if you come across any of the 16 at a restaurant (not Tatsuriki though), order a glass and give it a try. Especially true if it is a unicorn sake and you're willing to splurge 3000+ yen on a glass of Juyondai, and is probably a unique bottling you cannot get anywhere else.

Also no restaurant will carry all of the 16. The big problem is that there are so many sake out there and no shop tends to carry a brewery's complete portfolio (just like in the wine world). There are some breweries in the suburbs where the everyday kind of sake (honjozo, futsushu) are not sent out to Tokyo shops...in a way they are very local sake but absolutely spendid and dirt dirt cheap, like less than 1800 yen for a 720 mL bottle if a honjozo that's only available in the area where the brewery is, or a one cup sake version of it. Then some sake breweries do limited production of certain bottles because they want to play around with a different sake rice, or a different recipe altogether....then another variation, and sometimes it isn't archived and you don't see pictures of it on the internet. Think of it like table wine. Some are just absolutely splendid and pair spectacularly with local food. Hence "what grows together goes together" holds true especially in rural Japan. Although the term "terroir" is a bit debatable with wine folks in the sake world...but the concept is there.

Zaku has maybe three bottles through Mutual Trading (you mentioned New York) but they are the lower end. I have not tried them yet.

Ichita is where I tasted Denshu Junmai Daiginjo 45. Tabelog listings have beverage pictures uploaded by users, and you can always inquire about the availability of a bottle with the restaurant. Otherwise if you just ask them for sake they will pour at random. Ichita has Juyondai as well, but I find that Juyondai has a very limited and specific pairing range.... pretty much appetizer/apertif level, and if there are sweet and sour components (like a sunomono) with some texture or crunch from say, something like tobiko. Otherwise it's a waste at most sushi restaurants and quite a few izakaya. I've had the 2nd or 3rd from the top of the line (Shichitare Nijyukan) from a 1.8L bottle at Namba Hibiya, and I have to give them credit for using a Burgundy glass which allowed the sake to breathe quicker. Fantastic sipper/apertif, and perhaps it's like having a Domaine Leflaive Grand Cru with a lot of age (or Coche Dury)....but I think the money or black market pricing on Juyondai is better spent on a white Burgundy cellar selection. All Juyondai are nama or single pasteurized, but many wine collectors don't realize this and just keep it at cellar temperature. At the same time the sourcing/handling is unknown on the black market so they could be experiencing a much lower percentage of what it has been originally.

Cult sake is great, but many cult sake have limited pairings. Kind of like in the wine world to an extent. Junmai and Junmai Ginjo are fuller bodied and have a much wider pairing range than Junmai Ginjo, but if one knows what they are doing, they could pair Junmai Daiginjo with the right food, but it has to be more exacting. Or the sake has to be built in a certain way that works beyond sashimi and light clean fare.

Nothing wrong with Junmai Ginjo also, some are polished to Daiginjo levels but are still humbly called Junmai Ginjo (to keep the price down). Some JG are a bit pricier than they should be, but they're kind of like the in between....smooth enough to sip but structurally sound enough to pair with food. Think of Junmai Ginjo and Junmai Daiginjo akin to Premier Cru vs Grand Cru.

There are some Tokyo restaurants that allow corkage, most of the time not advertised, but if you politely ask they will inform you. I know L'Effervescence allows it (forgot the fee but much lower than New York) and I did it back in February (and also got an almost full sake pairing). Other restaurants won't allow corkage until you become a regular (and you also pour the master some out of courtesy). which makes sense...especially when you go the first time and you don't know what the profile of the food is like. You can also ask concierge to ask for you when you book restaurants as well. Or you bring a bottle as a gift to a friend who owns a restaurant and maybe they'll feel like drinking and sharing...but that's rare.

It is actually very sad that a lot of higher end restaurants (Japanese and non Japanese) don't take food pairing and sake into consideration. But then again traditionally, pairing with food is never thought about like wine, and some frown on that. It is the sake bars run by sake geeks that are pushing this and some of them actually do love wine as well, but they take a more specific attack and do a bang up great job with it.

Glad to have you as a reader... I was a bit worried at the lack of audience and interest in my chronicles LOL.

21 天 ago

Icon thumbup c50a5e69a172939d8f181c07defd87a40f8b5ea08aa95e4f5248647e539d2f91 Like!
Icon rply g 931a7da4f2fb72f6c47b91ce1a6ff6f0d639792b78b042247406a09dbc121382 Reply 4
Mastermind noir eyes black eyeglasses 1

Menchikatsu

Once again, I apologize I messed up my login, and then typed in the wrong box. Hope the duplicate wasn't confusing. But yes, I am both Guest and Menchikatsu, my real name, haha.

I like your use of the term 'unicorn' here and above. I too am a white whale hunter! Make fun of me, haha. We should keep with using mythical beasts to refer to wine, sake...

Ok, I understand now. I will keep my eyes peeled for the labels you listed. Actually, I remember quite a few, from the bottle design and logo, coming across them at different sake stores. Especially the ones with kanji names you pasted in the comment box. So now that I have your stamp of approval, I can perhaps buy them now. Personally, if I saw something as rare as a Juyondai or whatnot in a restaurant, I would be perfectly fine paying $30 for a glass. Quite frankly, that is the price of a cocktail in Ginza anyways, with the cover charge included.
In fact, because I was so inspired by your post earlier today, on my way home, I stopped by a rather ambitious wine shop I know, and acquired one of the only bottles of Hiroki junmai daiginjo there. They also have many different types of Jikon, which threw me off, when you revealed how hard it is to find retail.

You make a good reference, that I have never come across a Japanese restaurant, that has a vast cellar of sakes, like those of French restaurants that carry every vintage.
And yes, it frustrates me at times, when I hear of a limited release that you can only get if you go directly to the brewer's location. I've heard some people being nuts enough to drive across the country to secure a rare beer in Vermont, fly just to pickup the bottle they won in a raffle, or wait 8 hours for a pint of draft Pliny in California. But I am not that nuts. I hear Hitachino does the same thing, that their best beer is only at the hq in Japan.
Also, I too believe not always does price = greatness. I happen to have often found great red wine for less than $40. And sh***y stuff above several hundred dollars, that's 10 years too early to drink yet. I recently dined at Eleven Madison Park in NYC, and they were pairing an Australian white burgundy, that when purchased, must have been dirt cheap. But they cellared it 20 years, and it turned out extraordinary.
I think the concept of terroir is important. I like the idea that a certain rice dish pairs with the sake that it's made with. Or something like an animal, is cooked with the very hay/straw or vegetables it feeds on. I've even had local shellfish, cooked in its own ocean water and kelp. But keeping within the idea of things belonging to a certain place and identity, is certainly worth more of a look. Something that really fascinates me in Japan, is how 'ice farmers' actually send their naturally frozen lake ice to kakigori shops, and that hardcore shave ice nerds will go to try that region's water. They even eat it without any toppings, which amazes me.

Sorry if my replying is getting a bit long. It's a bit late, but this is really interesting stuff you're writing!

I always sort of ignored Tabelog's drink photo gallery before. But now I finally understand the importance. Used to just wing it drink wise. But going to a restaurant specifically to try a certain bottle is a very interesting approach.
I must say, your attention to detail... to even be able to notice the difference between a Burgundy glass and any other type, in altering how the sake tastes. I am usually too focused on not embarrassing myself when asking for a glass of something else, that all my concentration is put to being polite. Usually, the drink turns out to be pretty good.
I don't know much about the sake black market, for I've never bought anything at over inflated prices. But I do know, at a reputable wine store in Beverly Hills, I once asked the buyer, long before Juyondai became known internationally, about what was good. And he recommended it, as a special order. The tokubetsu honjozo was priced, after import and middleman fees, at $700+.

Although I am not the most experienced on the topic, I can see how just throwing a rare cult sake out there could be exciting to a collector geek, but makes no sense to a real gourmet. I too have experienced having had so called 'inferior' wines, which paired better with whatever food I was eating. So I leave it to the chef to recommend me what they think is a good idea, and sometimes they actually say "better not to drink that one now", no matter how good it is.

Aside from your perspective on junmai, ginjo, and daiginjo. I would love to hear what you think of nigori, umeshu, or even hot sake.
On my last trip, a friend took me to a place I couldn't even find online. Kurakawa くら川 in Urawa, Saitama. I found out, they (only?) serve sake hot, and specialize in hot sake. I mentioned it to chef Kurosaki at his sushi counter, when he asked me where else I went that week, and to my surprise, all I said was "a hot sake place in Saitama", and he named it. There are truly some under the radar places out there, that only insiders or super locals know.

Ah that makes sense, that regulars would have that privilege of byob. Actually, I have never not gone to a restaurant anywhere, and done corkage without offering it to the chef/manager/waiter/and other staff. Sometimes, they've even waived the fee for me, for bringing something so hard to find. I think I will try that next time... bring something cool to amuse the chef. I also sometimes wonder, is it appropriate to ask the chef to drink with you, while they're on the job. I've occasionally seen an over excited tourist insist on buying a drink for the chef. But they've got a whole night to get through, and probably can't take too much, especially holding a knife in their hand.

Thank you for reading my long reply. When I'm more awake tomorrow, I will recheck and hope it's not that I wrote too much.

Yes, I think you should continues to write your thoughts and publish them. More people need to be educated in the knowledge of pairing sake with food at Japanese restaurants. But because the topic is so daunting and huge in its scale, I think many foreigners especially get intimidated. Just looking at all those bottles with kanji/hiragana they can't read, is scary to choose the wrong bottle. And at a restaurant in Tokyo, I don't think they even know what 'nihonshu' is. They just divert to nama-biru. Maybe I will buy your book at Tsutaya one day? :)

21 天 ago
User default d6f8776075bbcbf91b3886fd7b0aeb86c94956e290bd9b9223466618a8cd47a2

ChuToroZuke

@Menchikatsu

The person you met in LA who introduced you to aged sake, is it Courtney Kaplan of Tsubaki/Ototo? ;-). Never met her but I know who she is.

I'm still learning and have much to learn about wine, but you're right...there's always a risk of opening up an old bottle...be it the cork or in the case of some white burgundies with premature oxidation (and you can't tell until you open it).

If you don't pack too much in the way of clothes, but have enough to use as wrapping protection for bottles, you could in theory pack 13 (at least) across two suitcases, if not more.

Some sake are not meant to age that long like wine. Certain types are built for aging post bottling and once available retail, and of course some geeks will try to push the boundary but those are less known. Then there's aged sake which is another animal altogether, and even if you let those sit at room temperature in cool dry place they will last quite some time as well.

I enjoy umeshu, the best ones are made in house each year by izakaya and some do lots of weird eclectic combinations. Typically the base is shochu, although there are some that introduce sake inside. I also enjoy versions that are pulpy, but those typically do not get exported (in the West and East Coast, there is a Daiginjo Nigori umeshu that's quite good, by Takenokawa). Some sake breweries make umeshu, but their base is kome (rice) shochu. Niwa No Guisu (Fukuoka Prefecture, green bottle) makes an excellent rendition that is super pulpy.

I'm not a fan of traditional creamy nigori, but have been rather surprised by its versatility in the form of nama nigori in Japan...particularly when it's very savory, high acidity which adds additional texture/mouthfeel and can actually pair strangely with say, shirako risotto with shaved truffles on top. There is also a form that's easier to tolerate if you don't like that creaminess, which is usu nigori, where the sendiment is nowhere near as thick, but the liquid is a touch cloudy...those you don't feel like you're drinking salty liquid yogurt.

Hot sake... it depends on what the sake is. Cheap mass produced sake hot and improperly warmed can be off putting. I think the really really old style junmai and honjozo (made during the era of Samurai or before) like Kenbishi can be really good if warmed up properly. Tatsuriki makes a non exported Junmai that is polished to 80% that is quite good hot as well, and same goes for Shinkame which is aged 2 years (they also have a lineup aged 3 years that's smoother and far more complex). Older Japanese folks love hot sake, and some like it as hot as 80 C where you can experience a ton of acidity and some aroma. Most sake purists I talk to think the sweet spot is between 40 to 50 C, where you get the most at around 45 C. Beyond that, additional heat will kill all the umami. Kokuryu has a sub label called Kuzuryu (nine headed dragon) that are built for warming, and their Daiginjo is fantastic warmed to about 45 C and is quite perfect with Japanese crab, plus the bottle is damn cool black with red kanji. At some random 7-Eleven's in Tokyo (or other convenience stores) there is a sake by Kikuhime that is a Yamahai Junmai. Quite excellent already at room temperature but withstands heat very well (Kikuhime is an excellent producer as well), and is one of the best sake to go with oden.

Kurosaki san is originally from Saitama prefecture. He's a chef who eats around a lot and has an incredible and talented sense of taste. He also enjoys wine so I think he understands pairing from that side of things, and carries a wide selection of celebrity and geek level sake. If you go next, ask for his Junmai pairing and get ready to have your mind blown. I think he's the only one that I know of that does this in Tokyo and takes all that into consideration.

Congratulations on finding Hiroki and Jikon at your wine shop! I think I found some also at a wine shop online somewhere in Canada, but always wondered if they refrigerated them properly. Hiroki Junmai Daiginjo is single pasteurized but still needs to be always kept in cold storage. Most Jikon are nama (especially the seasonal spring, fall, and winter releases) and there are single pasteurized versions, some typically make it onto the black market.....depending on the sourcing I'd be a bit careful as you might not get the full 100% capability of the bottle.

21 天 ago
Mastermind noir eyes black eyeglasses 1

Menchikatsu

Yes! You know so many people. How interesting. I’m curious now, if there are other overseas Japanese restaurants or drink establishments you have stories about.

And to rephrase what you were saying, can’t trust any bottle just because the label is prestigious. Even the most famous companies can make mistakes in brewing. Also that restaurants might not have properly stored the bottle.

Packing wise, I tend to use my clothing as padding. At most, I’m comfortable with one large sake bottle, or several smaller ones. I started bringing back sake, because I gave up on figuring out how to write the proper travel documents for wagyu a long time ago, haha.

The shelf life of sake seems to be a challenge. I wish some would last a long time, so I can collect a few good bottles, and admire it on my shelf, before drinking. Someone in the hobby of finding great sake often, must end up drinking a lot on a frequent basis!

I really like the idea of bottling fresh ume plums, and soaking them in shochu, then keeping it under the floor boards for a year. I’ve wondered whether the sake version is more or less a gimmick, since most households use shochu. I too like the pulpy stuff. Niwa no Guisu has the little bird on the label. I saw it recently. Perhaps I will go back and take a look. The one I really liked this past year, is the 5 year aged Manzairaku.

I know very little about nigori, aside from that girls seem to love it. It certainly is pleasant. And it gives me that grown up version of the satisfaction like I’m drinking Calpico. If you know Korean food, they have that drink called makgeoli (makkoli) which in some ways resembles what you’re describing.
Not sure if it’s as close to it, but I’ve really started getting into amazake recently. You mainly drink it on the first day of the year hot, at temples and shrines, before sunrise correct? But I’ve never had the privilege of being there at that time. I like it all year round.

Wow, these notes on hot sake is so informative. I will have to memorize it. I’m glad you told me, because too often, when I ask people in America who drink hot sake, they tend to buy the cheap stuff because they think it loses its flavor anyways when heated up, so why pay more? So now, I’m starting to know better. I never thought about heating the sake to a precise 45c degrees. I very much like how sake is heated up in those oden box bath things. I think I saw one at Kimura when I went. And ofcourse, quite often at casual neighborhood izakaya. I think going by what you’re saying, I could do the same in a sous vide machine at home.

That’s right! He did say he was from Saitama. And I recall my meal as being thrilling. A lot of sensitivity in all the dishes and sushi, with very balanced flavors. I remember his room and customers as having a more inviting feeling, and sense of comradery, than other counter restaurants I’ve been. Can’t wait to go back. I will definitely do the junmai pairing you’ve recommended.

Thank you, I will drink the Hiroki soon, somewhere with people who appreciate sake. There’s an import company that brings Jikon across the ocean, called ‘That’s Life’. I think the store you’re thinking of is called Legacy. For the wine shop I went to, I think all the bottle types were in the fridge.I can’t say how long it might have sat in shipping boxes before being moved. That’s always a mystery, and a big reason why I never liked buying resell wine on the aftermarket. No idea how much heat damage it’s taken during shipment.

Looking to hear more about your sake knowledge in the next article.

20 天 ago
User default d6f8776075bbcbf91b3886fd7b0aeb86c94956e290bd9b9223466618a8cd47a2

ChuToroZuke

@Menchikatsu, Uchida has very specific set of rules to abide by for ordering. It was like cramming for an exam trying to study it using google translate (several bloggers have put the rules up to make it easier for locals). Never made it though...And of course you have to order an alcoholic beverage. There is also a specific entrance where you wait. You might be better off going to Torishige where it's easier (and you get high quality motsuyaki) but you have to sit by the counter with the owner I think on the upper floor.

Geek level sake is more about the producer itself, the brewmaster doing crazy things, their philosophy and resulting brews, their either traditionalist or non conforming approach (usually more traditionalist), and perhaps the additional steps they take to do something out of bounds from the brewing process or the sourcing materials, yet achieving some sort of cult status from the really serious drinkers (and not in a celebrity kind of way). Could also be small producer/regional. Honda Shoten/Tatsuriki is one (but they also have a premium luxurious lineup)...the late Honda Takeyoshi san got his PhD in argiculture past age 70 and was researching Yamadanishiki into his 80s, and thought about ways to draw out maximum nutrients and umami from the best rice, and he was the chairman of the low temperature aging sake association. If you visit their brewery you may get to taste a 1983 aged Junmai Ginjo (not for sale) that's amazing. Shinkame is another (and they do aged sake very well, they even age it at room temperature yet the color is not amber). Geek level sake can be warmed and it will taste very complex at different temperatures, and have some of the best killer pairings with food. I guess you can also say geek sake is also basically sake that appeals to the purists who love Junmai/Junmai Ginjo, and the producers put a lot of effort (and high cost) to make them, yet the results are fabulous even at the entry point. Tamagawa is another one, especially their Muroka Nama Genshu Yamahai sake, and their amberish sweet sake that was based on a recipe dating back to the Samurai period (and pairs brilliantly with fatty liver like foie gras as well as desserts). Some geek level sake are groundbreaking in their own ways, although not necessarily celebrity status like popular, but highly respected nonetheless with certain groups of drinkers.

Yeah please check out those izakaya. You don't necessarily have to hit up the best of tabelog. I did Kotaro once, and while I only did omakase (the sampler tasting greatest hits) it was just ok for me. Looking back, the sake selections were small at least from the menu. The food was delicious, but I wasn't wow'd even just from the small sampling. It is very popular with the jetsetters and some of the more famous and higher visibility sake people in Tokyo. I just find it wrong that if you want the best you have to sit at the counter and order from the Japanese menu, but the omakase which are greatest hits from the menu, are not as good....

Personally I prefer Kirakutei, although they tend to focus more on medium / lighter bodied sake....although if you hit the right pairings it can be very awesome too.

I would recommend Kanade in Toranomon (probably a bit closer to Shinbashi)

https://tabelog.com/tokyo/A1301/A130103/13172751/dtlrvwlst/B111198436/

and you can easily disregard the 3.27 tabelog score. Watanabe san is the owner, and her oden and fresh shellfish sashimi are so good, as are some of her other dishes like shinjo. She has Taka, Jikon, Masumi, Kid and various other muroka nama genshu you can pair to your heart's content. Loved the raw oysters too. Her English is minimal but if you speak nihonshu and Japanese food you could get by. I went with two friends after a sake event, started off with Spanish bubbly then progressed to sake. A very locals kind of place, modernistic vibe and very fun but tight spaced place. I would go back if I had time.

10 天 ago

Read more