And just like that we arrived in 2023 and what an amazing way to celebrate the New Year at one of the important sake shrines in Kyoto (find out more by checking out December here).
And just as busy as December was, January also had much of sake in store, with another little "Sake Tour de Japan" that brought me down all the way to Saga, but all about it a little later, this is how the year started in part one!
Kion - Sake Pairing Dinner in Tokyo
I love when restaurants do sake-pairing menus and Kion in Ginza was a great recommendation by a friend. 6 seats only and a seasonal 10-course menu with sake to match, this is definitely a place I will be revisiting.
Some of the pairings I loved were the Soy milk / white azuki bean / pearl barley / dried persimmon / dark rum / banana chips with Hanatomoe Tarumaru Yamahai or chicken/basil / preserved lemon Monaka paired with Koueigiku Gekko sake from Saga.
Of course, seeing one of my favorite Doburoku (Nondo, Tono) on the menu was another treat. Also loved the combination of Puku Puku Brewewing's hop sake (the hop is added during the fermentation) which paired great with the spicy south East Asian sauce on the dish. And the twist of adding Mikan (a Japanese citrus) to the sake turning it into a cocktail made it phenomenal.
Highly recommend for anyone in Tokyo to visit, they also speak English so really no excuse 😉
Hello, Nami Sake from Mexico!
As some people know I am obsessed with Tacos and Mexican food as a whole and therefore have been extremely intrigued by the Mexican local sake brewery "Nami". Everything they put out on SNS looks extremely beautiful and their slick design is something I have been really impressed with.
So when a friend let me know he would be traveling from Mexico to Tokyo I saw a chance to finally get my hands on a bottle of their sake (also with a little help from the brewery themself letting us know where it can be bought in Mexico), so I was extremely excited to receive it!
Was it what I expected: no!
A Revisit to Eureka
To be honest, I am in love with this place, there is really something magical about it! So when I heard that Melissa Mills from Sake Connect was in town there was really no other place to catch up, as she had not been to Eureka by Marie Chiba yet.
And it did not disappoint. I finally got to eat the squid-ink-mayo egg and of course, Nondo Doburoku with the ham and blue cheese katsu had to be on the list of what we ordered. But I also discovered their squid-ink arancini (fried rice balls with cheese inside) and the highlight of this visit (aside from meeting Melissa) was that I got to try the Fukushima Sake Project sake: CHIBA x YAMAGUCHI!
I, by chance, got the bottle made by Miyaizumi, which was even more exciting as we visited the brewery and drank quite a bit of sake with the staff one evening... Just another amazing late lunch at Eureka!
A Visit to Tonoike Sake Brewery in Mashiko
It is always a pleasure to visit Tonoike Brewery in Mashiko, so whenever I can I try to bring guests or friends up here to experience the outstanding hospitality.
And the best part, I also always discover something new, this time Tonoike Shuzoten prepared a very special sake pairing, their “AUTHENTIC” Junmai Daiginjo paired with local strawberries! 🍓
If you do want to visit the brewery you can do so on your own, but if you prefer a unique experience such as a pairing dinner or tasting get in touch here.
A Visit to Shimazaki Brewery
Another place I love heading out to is Nasukarasuyama, of course, because of Shimazaki Brewery store and its sake storing cave. Also here, I seem to discover something new every time I visit - which is amazing!
This time Shimazaki-san showed us some very VERY old competition sake, that, as he explained, used to be bottled in beer bottles. These are usually not for show or sale, but my lucky guest was able to purchase one of them...
I also discovered they make Doburoku, which is now resting in my fridge until I get back to Tochigi.
Sake Pairing Dinner with Aoki Sake Brewery - Ibaraki (Monitor Tour)
This time I headed over to Ibaraki prefecture for a special 3-part Monitor tour including a sake-pairing dinner at Sansui Hotel in Koga.
The highlight was of course, meeting Chisa Aoki who so wonderfully hosted us through the evening and put up with all our questions and of course, the Japanese food paired with Aoki Shuzo's Gokeiji brand, and that they especially adjusted the menu to not be as fish-heavy (I do not eat a lot of seafood), which I really appreciated 🙏
Dishes ranged from sweet potato with glazed red bean, over roasted duck to braised pork
and we even got to open the last bottle of their "Chisamblage" and oh what a treat! Everything looked and tasted amazing and I do hope this is going to make it into a product that people can book and enjoy...
Part 2 coming soon.
With January again, being such a huge month I decided to split it into two parts. Part 2 will continue with more from Aoki Shuzo, a trip to Izumi, and some exciting news from the Toki Association on aged sake...