Aug 31, 2010

Drinking Kisho while eating sumibiyaki charcoal-grilled foods

Sake can be paired with various types of foods, but if you want to enjoy this beverage in quite a Japanese atmosphere, you can of course go to a Japanese restaurant.

In a walking distance from Nozaki Syuzou, the brewery that is making Kisho, in Akiruno City, Tokyo, there is a Japanese restaurant named "Kurochaya." This restaurant serves sumibiyaki charcoal-grilled foods. The over 250-year-old buildings of this restaurant were before owned by a big sericulturist who was a village headman in the vicinity, and the buildings have been brought over from the original place and reassembled here.

When you enter the front gate while seeing a big water mill wheel on your left, you get in the garden of the restaurant that looks like a grove where restaurant houses with thatched roofs and magnificent structure stand. The garden is interspersed with bamboo and other trees, resting arbors, souvenir shops, etc. This place is on a cliff from which you can look down on the Akigawa River. I could see from a resting bench children bathing in a clear stream and an angler fishing sweetfish.

Inside the restaurant, beams, columns, and floors were shining black, and tools for reeling silk off cocoons including spinning wheels, tools for making medicine, and other antiques were displayed. Baskets that had been used for sericultural work were hanging upside down from the ceiling. These baskets on which paper was pasted were now used as lamp shades.

Sake we enjoyed at this restaurant while waiting for fish, meat, and vegetables to be cooked on the grill was of course Kisho. Namazake served in bamboo tubes was of course very nice. However, I wanted to drink sake in a relaxing mood with the nice foods, and in that case, I prefer nurukan or lukewarm sake. Anyway, if you are Kisho fan, this is a perfect place for you.

Aug 26, 2010

Sake I drunk in Nasu

Lately, we have sizzling days in July and August here in Japan. It is too bad that some people died from the heat of summer.

To escape from the brazing inferno, I planned a short trip to the Nasu highlands. My friends and I gathered and left to the destination place in two cars last Saturday.

Nasu is a highland place in the north of Tochigi Prefecture. Naturally, it is cooler than our places. There, we had an overnight stay in a small rental cottage.

Beside the cottage, a small mountain stream was running, and the bathhouse that only the lodgers of our cottage can use stood on the river bank. In the bathhouse, a hot spring bath was provided. I first bathed in the stream to cool down myself then I warmed in the hot bath. It was a very relaxing experience.

Another amusement was barbecue. We had bought meet and vegetables to cook at a nearby grocery store before we got to the cottage.

And, as to beverages, beer, shochu, and whiskey were on the table, and of course sake.

One of our members was actually a sake master brewer from a brewery in Tokyo. He kindly brought to the cottage a premium daiginjo sake he made and another commercially available bottle of Yatsushika.

The daiginjo sake was nice but might be too nice for our wild BBQ food, while Yatsushika's bold impression and nice aroma of mellowness were well paired the BBQ foods. The master brewer (the guy behind the bottle in the photo above) was quite happy especially with this sake.

Another lady brought a 1800-ml bottle of Junmai Daiginjo Kinshi Masamune Matsuya Kyubei. She was bought this sake in Kyoto because she liked this bottle. Finally she brought this bottle in the bathhouse and later we joined her for enjoying mixed bathing with this expensive sake.

I myself brought a small bottle of Junmai Goyotei from Shiraso Co. Ltd. This sake tasted quite like a namazake. I liked this one but the master brewer didn't appear to.

Aug 16, 2010

Tofu restaurant "Ukai"

The garden was maintained quite well. Carp were seen in the pond in the center of the garden. I felt the space was a little small and the atmosphere was damp, but the setting here was relaxing and appeared suitable for killing time to wait for companions to have lunch with; stone-paved paths in the garden were wet with sprinkled water; a wind-bell under the eaves was swaying in the breeze and sounding clearly and brightly; thus, the entire stage scenery here seemed helpful in adding to the cool and refreshing taste of the garden. This place I was visited recently was the tofu food restaurant "Ukai" in Hachioji City.

In the garden, there was the spring water that was used to make tofu of this restaurant. I had a mouthful of the water, which tasted mild and permeated through my body.

On this day, this tasteful and elegant restaurant was used as the venue of a luncheon party of our kimono circle. Since most of members of the circle are women, it is virtually a must for me to attend this gathering (maybe, I'm a philogynist).

We had some sake in a friendly and relaxing mood while enjoying foods beautifully arranged on small plates and bowl saucers. This was a delight of the palate and sight.

Sake Note
Tokubetsu Junmai Ginrei Gassan Nama (特別純米 銀嶺月山 生)
"Gassan" is the name of a mountain in the Tohoku area. The mountain is know for its behind-the-season skiing (the skiing season is from late spring to early summer) and also known as an object of mountain worship. Having the same name, this name sounds conveying cool air from the mountain. Is this too easy of me to think in this way?
The impression of the sake was that of average namasake but it has rather a higher degree of boldness in various aspects: bouquet, taste, etc. The alcohol content is 16 to 17, also being higher than typical sake. However, it leaves a clean-cut aftertaste.