Archive for May, 2007

Shochu & Sushi 1: Sushi Ko

May 19, 2007

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sake, shochu and sushi


Last Thursday (May 17th), my better (worse?) half and I thought it was about hight time to pay a visit to our favourite Sushi Restauarant In Shizuoka City, namely Sushi Ko (not to be confused with its parent establishment in Tamachi).
The main reasons why it is our favourite is because:
1) the fish and all food are of superior quality
2) the prices are clearly posted up
3) it has sake and shochu from Shizuoka Prefecture.

Now for sake lovers, Sushi Ko has the following Shizuoka Jizake among its list:
Kan (hot): Fujinishiki Honjoozo (extravagant for a hot sake!)
By the glass: Isojiman Honjozo, Shosetsu Tokubetsu Honjozo, Kikuyoi Junmai, & Kokkou Ginjo
300 ml bottles: Fujinishiki Junmai Ginjo, Masuichi Ginjo

And one superlative kome/rice shochu, Fuji no Shizuku by Fujinisiki!

As for the sushi just judge from what we sampled:
sushiko01.jpg sushiko02.jpg sushiko05.gif sushiko06.jpg sushiko07.gif sushiko08.jpg

Sushi Ko
Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Ryogae Cho, 2-3-1 (Aoba Koen)
Tel.: 054-2512898
Business hours: 17:00~25:00. 17:00~23:00 on Sundays
Closed on Wednesdays
Reservations advised
Credit Cards OK

Homepage (Japanese)


Shochu & Soba 1: Mumaro

May 16, 2007

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sake, shochu and sushi



In not so long past ages, the Japanese used to drink their sake and shochu, depending on the area they dwelt, at soba shops.
Slowly but surely better quality soba shops are making an effort to serve comparatively good sake and shochu.
Such an establishment can be found in Miyakochi, Hamamatsu City (formerly Hamakita City, a ten-minute car trip from Komatsu Station along the Entetsu private railway.
The fact that it opened its doors just beside Hana No mai Brwery/Distillery in 2004 is no coincidence!
It serves sake and shochu from the same Brewery, garanteeing fresh products of the highest quality.
The shochu offered on the menu are a standard 25 degrees kome/rice shochu called Acha no Tsubone:
I had the pleasure to taste it recently and described in a precedent posting
and a strong 48 degrees kome/rice brew called Aratama n Sato, commemorating the name of the area.
As for the soba, they are excellent and of the extravagant “ju-wari” kind, all made on the premises, with an interesting “yaki soba miso” on the spoon (see above picture). They also offer for sale a great array of local honeys not to be missed.
The perfect place to eat soba after or before visiting their grat neighour brewers!
The place is full most of the time and will sometimes close early as only soba made on the day are served.

Hamamatsu City, Hamakita, Miyakuchi, 619
Tel.: 053-5822212
Opening hours: 11:00~14:00, 17:00~20:00
Closed on Monday nights, and Tuesdays

Hana No Mai Brewery/Distillery

May 14, 2007

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sake, shochu and sushi



On May 14th, I finally managed to find the time to go to Hamamatsu and visit the largest Brewery/Distillery in the Prefecture, namely Hana No Mai Brewery located in Miyakuchi, formerly part of Hamakita City, now merged into the new cosmopolitan City of Hamamatsu.
To reach the place you have to board the train to Komatsu on the Entetsu private railway line just outside Entetsu Department Store and then take a taxi or walk for a good hour like I did.

The brewery/distillery seems small at first glance., but the facade is cleverly designed to hide the vast complex behind. Mr. Kazuhito Tsuchida, the young (48) Toji/Master Brewer was expecting me and I must say that for the whole time I spent in his company, I felt extremely welcome. Mr. Tsuchida was born but followed his father to Hamamatsu when he was still at Primary School. We almost spent the same time in Shizuoka Prefecture, and although he does visit his homeplace from time to time, I felt he was truly a man of Shizuoka. Actually, the only thing not from our Prefecture in the whole Brewery is the cedar ball “imported” from Gifu Prefecture!
Hana No Mai was founded in 1864 and was called Inasa Brewery until December 1949.
The Sales Department is under the responsibility of the last generation of owners’ son, Kazuo Takada. Mr. Tsuchida, who became the resident Toji at the age of 32 is now in charge of the whole brewing.
This is a Large brewery/distillery by Shizuoka standards as it numbers 65 employees with 10, including 2 ladies!, in charge of the brewing solely. Employees are of all ages, a sure sign of an assured future.
All ingredients used for the of shochu and liqueurs are from the Prefecture.
They have the license to distill kome/rice shochu of extravagant quality as well as umeshu from junmai sake.
Hana No Mai Brewery is not only very open about their business but also generous in allowing everyone to take water from their well!
Mr. Tsuchida then took me to an extensive tour of the facilities where I could see the modern equipment inside buildings completely renovated and computerized,
hana3.jpg hana5.jpg hana12.jpg
all under the benevolent protection of a small shinto altar
It was a long tour indeed, and all the time it was made all the more pleasurable by a truly enthusiastic master Brewer who made a point to present me with plenty of o-miyage/souvenirs to take home.

Hana No Mai Distillery brews the following shochu all made from rice (“kome”):
acha-no-tsubone.jpg hananomai-shizu.jpg hananomai-aratamanosato.jpg haanomai-kasutori.jpg
Acha No Tsubone, Shizu, Aratama No Sato (48 degrees), and Kasutori.

Hana No Mai Brewery
434-0004 Hamamatsu City, Miyakuchi, 632
Tel.: 053-5822121
Hamamatsu City JR Station, Costa East Aisle
Te.: 053-5474855
420-0923 Shizuoka City, Kawai, 100-7
Te.: 054-2657210
140-0011 Tokyo, Shinagawa Ku, Todai, 6-4-3, Estomer Todai, 502
Tel.: 03-37657391

Takashima Brewery/Distillery: EN

May 7, 2007

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sake, shochu and sushi


On Monday, May 7th, suddenly finding myself with some time to spare, I agreed to travel all the way to Numazu City with my sake friends, Messrs. Nagashima and Yokoyama, to visit a Kura I had wanted to visit for some time: Takashima Brewery whose sake are known under the name of Hakuin Masamune. But another reason was the shochun “En” I introduced in former posting.
The last generation who took over to let his father enjoy a well-earned retirement, came in the person of Kazukata Takashima, a burly judoka of nearly 29 years. For all his apparent youth, he showed us quickly he was already an accomplished “kurabito” keen to share his knowledge and experience. He came back to his father’s kura 5 years ago to help him improve his family’s business before he completely takes over all aspects of brewing/distilling with his staff of 4.

Sitting in the middle of an bric-a-brac of antiques oand curios f all sorts, we briskly asked our questions Mr. Takashima seemed only to happy to answer and build on.

We tasted the water from his well as he explained it came from a depth of 50 metres where the waters originated from nearby Mount Fuji’s snow and took 350 years (yes 350!) to slowly sip through rocks to finally reach this location! He showed the “Torii” and shine the family built for the well which has served his kura so well since 1804.

We were then taken on the traditional tour of the kura where modern equipment equally shared space with traditional facities and tools. We tasted the water, a pure nectar with its distinct characteristics.
Mr. Takashima does not only brew sake but also shochu distilled from his sake kasu (white lees) before being let to rest and mature in Spanish sherry oaken casks!

We were offered a great lecture on his distilling and also even had the rare opportunity to savour the taste of his research on loquat and plum liqueurs! He is busy, now that the sake is taken care of, researching on new possibilities , including what food could be best appreciated with his brews.

I can assure you this will not be my first interview!

Shizuoka Shochu Tasting 4/2: Kasutorishochu by Fujinishiki Brewery

May 6, 2007

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I introduced this other kome (rice) shochu to my good friend, Mr. Kazua Tomii, “oyakata” at Tomii and surprised him again!
Fujinishiki Brewery do not have to go too far for their rice as they just scoop their best sakekasu (sake white lees), distill them and voila!
Another extravagant kome/rice shochu with the consequent price.
Standard 25 degress of alcohol. Discreet taste of chestnuts, light but virile.
Best savoure on lots of ice.

Shizuoka Shochu Tasting 5: Achanotsubone by Hana No Mai Brewery

May 1, 2007

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sake, shochu and sushi



Over recent years Hana No Mai Brewery has acquired a welcome expertise in creating not only top-class sake and umeshu, but also some great shochu!
“Achanotsubone” (roughly translated as “Dear Chinese friend’s secret room”!) is a kome (rice) shochu distilled from junmai sake, an extravagant choice.
At a standard 25 degress alcohol, it is surprisingly tasty.
Aroma: light fruit
Taste: vanilla/banana/liquorice
Another shochu that ladies will not be able to resist!
Make the perfect “high ball” with ice and Schweppes Tonic Water!