Aug 21, 2009

Bring-your-favorite-bottle Party

It is nice to hold a party in an izakaya where you can bring your favorite bottles.

On August 11, we again held a party at Han-nari in Kichijoji Musashino city, Tokyo. Each of sake friends brought their one or two favorite bottles.

We drank Kozutsumi Natsu-nigori, Soku, Hatsuhi-Masamune, Kamoshibito Kuheiji, Koro, Kameman.

When sake lovers bring their sake, they always come with good bottles. I am happy that I can enjoy different nice sakes at a time.

Hatsuhi-Masamune Showa Hizo Label (Treasured Label of Showa Period) is a brew from Hasegawa Shuzo in Nagaoka city, Niigata prefecture and its shipment was limited to 200 bottles. I happened to find six of the 200 bottles in a nearby grocery store. Such rare and limited products induce me to buy them and I bought two bottle of this Hatsuhi-Masamune. I brought one bottle to the party.

Today's Drunkard

Aug 12, 2009

Ozeki Was Unexpectedly Nice!

Among the participants in the Christmas party held for a group of kimono lovers last December, there was a sales person from Ozeki Co., Ltd. He kindly brought a big sake cask to the party. A sake cask of this kind is made of wood, often prepared for a party, and intended to be cracked open before people ladle the sake out of it to box-shaped wooden receptacles called masu and make a toast. And so did we.

Ozeki is a big sake brewery in Hyogo prefecture and is known as being producing and selling a large amount of inexpensive futsushu, or regular sake, down-market. Sake connoisseurs, who prefer sake from microbreweries, may not readily want to drink sake of Ozeki. However, the Ozeki sake I drank in this party was very nice. Other people also happily drank this sake saying, "This is wonderful!" I wondered what kind of sake this was and asked the sales person, who told the sake is nothing special but just regular sake.

I think why this regular sake was so nice is of course because we could enjoy the sake with good friends, which, however, is one reason, and I think there is also another reason. Most importantly, the sales person of the brewery was involved in the serving of the sake this time. He could use delivery service to transport the sake cask to the venue, but he drove a car to bring it. (Of course, he had to sacrifice his chance of drinking the sake with friends.)

This sales person must have been taking great care for serving the sake of his company in the best conditions. He may have wanted to do his best for all the handling of the sake, including filling of sake in the cask, shipment, temperature control, period of storing the sake in the cask, and cask delivery to the venue.

I realized that sake that is offered cordially so that drinkers can enjoy it to the full extent is the best sake. I appreciate such sake more than any other premium sake. The Ozeki futsushu sake I was served in that Christmas party was certainly great sake.

Aug 10, 2009

Izakaya "Mamiama" in Tachikawa

We visited Izakaya "Mamiama" in Tachikawa city, which has opened recently.

As to foods, they chiefly serve sashimi and other seafood menus. With the sophisticated interior, the restaurant looks more like a sake bar than izakaya.

Last Friday, my friend Hide and I drank in this restaurant. I tried Bakuren and Ugo-no-Tsuki.

Suddenly, I noticed a woman was drinking alone at a nearby table. Unlike a conventional izakaya, women can probably feel at ease in this restaurant. (Izakayas are often considered to be places for men who want to get drunk.)

"Excuse me, Lady, but do you mind if I ask you to join us and enjoy sake together?"
"Oh, how come you're here, Ichibay?"
"Ah! I can't believe this! Is that you Kisa?!"
"Yes, it's me. Let's drink and get drunk together!"

The woman tuned out to be our drinking friend Kisa. We, naturally, started drinking together.

By the way, what was Hide drinking?

Thus, we three a good drinking time on that day, too.

Aug 8, 2009

Sake Made from Ipponjime Sake Rice

With its increased resistance to wind and coldness, and being hard to crack or crush during milling process at a low rice milling rate, the sake rice variety Ipponjime was designated as a recommended variety of Niigata prefecture in 1993. However, I hear fewer farmers are growing this variety in late years.

In March, I visited Niigata city to attend "Niigata Sake no Jin," a big sake festa, where almost all the sake breweries in the prefecture exhibited their products and you could sample any sake free of charge with only paying the admittance fee. There, I talked with a person from a brewery about this sake rice. According to him, since Ipponjime is an early season variety, it has ripe grains earlier than other varieties, and ripe grains attract many sparrows that of course want to eat the rice. This is a big problem for rice growers.

Honjozo Ipponjime Koshino-Hakugan from Nakagawa Shuzo is a brew made from Ipponjime sake rice. When I visited Nagaoka city in Niigata prefecture last December, I bought a bottle of this sake, which I found very nice. So, when I went there again July of this year, I purchased another bottle of the same sake.

Before, I wrote about this sake in the past titled "Complicated Sake Name." In the post, I wrote "The sake exhibits elegant balance between various sensations of flavors while possessing keen dryness." Last time I found grace and elegance in this sake, but this time, I felt rather boldness. Even the same sake has different impressions according to the brewery years.

Today's Sake
Honjozo Ipponjime Koshinohakugan (Nakagawa Shuzo)
Rice used: Ipponjime
Seimaibuai: 57%
Alcohol: 15 - 16%

Aug 2, 2009

Drinking at Harmonica Off-street Izakaya

In the Hamonika-Yokocho (Harmonica Off-street) area in Kichijoji, Tokyo, people almost brush against each other in narrow alleys. There, restaurants and izakayas, where you can have tasty foods and drinks at reasonable prices, jostle each other. Among such izakayas is "Han-nari," where we had a little drinking party on Sunday, July 26.

Lovers of sake, especially Tokyo sake, gathered. Each member brought one or two bottles of favorite brews. We had reserved the whole upstairs space for this party.

Entering from the backdoor of the restaurant, soon we found a flight of stairs leading upstairs. The tiny second floor space, apparently having the utmost capacity of 10 people, exposed to the afternoon sunlight penetrating through the windows on the west, did not seem to be a relaxing place for drinking sake. But once we started drinking, we could quite be relaxed founding this place comfortable. (I don't know why, but, apart from those having claustrophobia, people seem to find it comfortable to be in a confined small space, such as a tea-ceremony room, bathroom, closet, and probably coffin. I have never tried the last one, though.)

Sake brought this day:
Marushinmasamune Ginkara (Koyama Brewery)
Tsukimaru Junmaiginjo (Nishioka-Kawamura Shuzou Co., Ltd.) *
Kisho Ginjo Shiroyamazakura Namazake (Nozakishuzo Co., Ltd.)
Kasen Junmaiginjo Namachozoshu (Tamura Shuzoujou)
Sawanoi Junmaidaiginjo Mizunokioku (Ozawa Syuzou Co., Ltd.)
Kinkonmasamune Daiginjo Nigorizake (Toshimaya Syuzou Co., Ltd.)
Sawanoi Okunote Junmai Muroka Nama Genshu (Ozawa Syuzou Co., Ltd.)
Unlabeled sake (?)

* Tsukimaru is from Fukui Prefecture, but it was formerly being made by Nishioka Brewery, a now defunct brewery in Hachioji City, Tokyo. So, we regard this sake as honorary Tokyo sake.