Archive for February, 2008

Shizuoka Sake Tasting 24-3: Yamanaka Brewery-Yokosuka

February 28, 2008


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I’ve started a little love affair with this particular brewery (mind you, I’m turning in the most unashamed polygamist when it comes to sake brewed in Shizuoka!), but, as I said before, as Yamanaka Brewery (Aoitenka) is lost near the sea off Kakegawa City, it is not easy to obtain their brews. But they are certainly worth the search!

Yamanaka Brewery/Yokosuka/Junmai Ginjo
Rice: Yamada Nishiki (Hyogo Prefecture)
Rice milled down to 55%
Alcohol: 15~16 degrees
Dryness: +5
Acidity: 1.4
Bottled in July 2007

Clarity: very clear

Colour: almost transparent

Aroma: Fruits and flowers/banana

Taste: Very fruity at first: banana, almonds, gardenias
Welcome acidity revealed by second sip. Junmai tingle.
More almonds and bitter chocolate revealed with food. Drinks well with food which tends to bring some more sweetness about in spite of thedryness parameter.

Overall: Typical Shizuoka-type sake. Lots of fruits. Pleasant at all seasons on its own or with food, slightly chilled, room temperature or slightly warm, Equally popular with ladies and gents.

Shizuoka Sake Tasting 6/7: Oumuraya Brewery

February 26, 2008


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The Shizuoka Geeks tasted (I would say guzzled down) this extravagant sake (ishobin/1.8 l.) concocted by Oumuraya Brewery in Shimada City as we had a few reasons to celebrate. It is a “limited edition”, so I am religiously (I’m an agnostic hedonist) keeping the labels safe.
Its name is “Hanya”. People interested in Japanese culture will be interested, I’m sure!
It is also a “tobinkoi”, meaning it was filtered into one of those big glass vats for maturing.

Oomuraya Brewery/Hanya Junmai Daiginjo
Rice: Yamada Nishiki from Hyogo Prefecture
Rice milled down to 50%
Yeast: Shizuoka HD-1
Alcohol: 17~18 degrees (high)

Clarity: very clear

Colour: almost transparent

Aroma: fruity and light, almost discreet. Elegant. Pineapple.

Body: velvety

Taste: sweetish at first. Junmai tingle. Fruity: pineapple.
Elegant with short tail. Calling for the next sip. So easy to drink. Coffee beans revealed later. Goes surprisingly well with food, keeping it character all along.

Overall: Definitely a bit too extravagant for our rough lot, but who complains? Some people are going to kill me for coming with so few notes for such a beauty!
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What I found extraordinary is that such a high-class sake held its own so well, even as we were eating cheese and real curry cooked by our English Host, Mark (Talk about a rough lot! LOL)

Tasting by the Shizuoka Geeks (5)

February 24, 2008


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(Eriko, Mark, Seiko, Jasmine, “L’Amant”)

As this might have been the last time that Mark, our host, would be able to attend our session (he is moving to Kyoto) and also because it was Seiko’s birthday, we shared an impossibly extravagant sake brewed by Oomuraya Brewery (known for Oni Goroshi, Onna Nakase and Wakatake):

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It is a Junmai Daiginjo called “Hanya” and made with Yamada Nishiki Rice from Hyogo Prefecture and Shizuoka Yeast.
I can assure it disappeared very quickly as the ladies could not keep their hands off it!
Separate tasting posting coming soon!

Shizuoka Sake Tasting 26-2: Eikun Brewery-Kohaku

February 20, 2008


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Not many breweries in Shizuoka Prefecture are venturing into manufacturing koshu/old sake, and it is a pity. But things are fortunately slowly changing. Eikun Brewery in Yui has come up for some time with quite an extraordinary brew matured for 10 full years from a batch originally conceived in 1963! It certainly does not look like a sake!

Kohaku/”Ten Maturity”
Alcohol: 26 degrees (!!!!)
Bottled in December 2006

Clarity: Very clear

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Colour: Rich dark amber (name of the sake!)

Aroma: Pleasant. A bit pungent. Similar to a Chinese old chum. Almonds

Body: Full, easy on the palate.

Taste: Solid. Tastes like an old sherry. Welcome alcohol.
Persimmon, caramel.
Acidity revealed later on the palate as the dry impresion gains emphasis.

Overall: maybe an acquired taste for some, but very pleasant. Should be drunk like an old sherry or even like a good port.
Goes down well with food.
Heated to about 40 degrees celsius, it becomes very pleasant with hot dishes, especillay “nabe”. Do not forget the high alcohol content. Drink sparingly, or it will hit you!

Shizuoka Izakaya: Taisaku

February 19, 2008


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It certainly took me a long time, but I finally paid a visit to Taisaku, the third oldest Izakaya in Shizuoka City! It has entered it sixty-ninth year of existence and is still going solid thanks to a strong sense of tradition nurtured by the family down to the present 3rd and 4th generations.
It has alway enjoyed a great reputation and certainly deserves it!
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Taisaku prides itself in serving, whenever possible, products from the local seas and lands. The sashimi are true delicacies, especially raw sakura shrimp (large pic above), not easy to serve so fresh unless you have a direct contact in Yui City, or katsuo/bonito thanks to Yaizu City fishermen. The aji/horsemackerel was a beauty, too. I had to limit myself to those three raw servings this time and will have to come regularly to sample the whole menu changing every day (impossible!). I had time and stomach space left to sample their “kisu to anago no satsumaage”, a fish paste made from two fish caught in Suruga Bay and cooked to perfection.

Now, if you know me well, there need be another reason for my introducing an Izakaya: the local sake!
I gave up on posting the labels for the simple reason that the list is too long! Here you are:
Garyubai Dai Ginjo (Sanwa Brewery, Shimizu Ku)
Isojiman Junmai Ginjo + Hionjozo (Yaizu City)
Hatsukame (Shida Gun)
Kaiun (Doi Brewery, Kakegawa City)
Matsu Ichi, including Taruzake/sake from the cask and “kan”/warm (Shizuoka City)
Shosetsu Junmai (Yui City)
Kokkou (Fukuroi City)
Karakkaze (Hana no Mai Brewery, Hamamatsu City)
8 Breweries for 11 types of sake, all from Shizuoka Prefecture!

As Taisaku is located in Central Shizuoka just behind Shin Shizuoka Center, expect it to be full with patrons of all ages, genders and status!
If you wish to talk about local history, you will find the master of the house quite amenable indeed. Not only did he took out old books for me, but he also gave me the name of another Brewery that existed before WWII!

Taisaku
420-0858 Shizuoka City, Aoi-Ku, Tenmacho, 1-10 (entry on 1F, restaurant on 2F)
Tel.: 054-2531639
Business hours: 17:30~?
Closed on Sundays
Parties up to 20 possible on 3F

Shizuoka Sake Tasting 10-4: Takashima-Hakuin Masamune Brewery

February 14, 2008


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I must confess I have not been able to survey Takashima Brewery’s sake as much as other breweries as it is located far in the east in Numazu City, but it never fails to surprise me. Every year seems to witness further progress in qulaity and originality!

The latest is quite a nectar:
Hakuin Masamune Dai Ginjo
Rice: Yamada Nishiki from Hyogo Prefecture
Rice milled down to 40%
Yeast: Shizuoka NEW-5
Alcohol: 16~17 degrees (pretty high)
Bottled in September 2007

Clarity: Very clear

Colour: light golden tinge

Aroma: Elegant. Fruity/Flowers: bananas, vanilla, pineapple, gardenias

Body: velvety

Taste: Elegant, refined. Fruity: vanilla, bananas, pineapple. Nice alcohol tingle revealed from second sip. Bananas lingering on palate.
Bitter chocolate and almonds appearing with food.

Overall: Eminently drinkable with food. Elegant, feminine. Calling for another sip. Almost tastes like a liqueur. A memorable discovery!

Shizuoka Izakaya: Odakui

February 13, 2008


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When I entered Odakui on February 8th, I must confess it was already the second establishment I visited that particular night. I had only intended to stay there long enough to give myself a good idea of this establishment introduced to me by its “sister” izakaya, Yasatei.
Well, well,…
Lucky I was on my own. I can’t imagine what would have happened if a certain Gaijiin Tonic and Foodhoe had been with me! I very much doubt I would have been able to teach from 09:00 the next morning!
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The owner, Naofumi Ohshiro, who opened Odakui 8 years ago before helping open Yassaitei 5 years later, did not know who I was (he could not believe I’m a lecturer!). The gentleman seems to decide on the spur of the moment who he likes or not, unless it was because he is an unconditional fan of the famed Japanese manga artist Ose Akira who wrote the series “Kurabito Claude”, the story of a third-generation Japanese-American who visits Japan to explore his roots and to subsequently become a sake brewer.
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Nevertheless, when I ordered sake, he told me to bear with him and accept a cup of an absolutely extravagant Junmai Daiginjo (one of the most expensive sake I ever saw in Shizuoka Prefecture!) brewed by Oomurya Brewery in Shimada City as a welcome greeting! Look at the “Oni’s” face on the label and compare it with Mr. Ohshiro’s on the picture at the top of this posting, holding the famous “Dobu” nigori sake from Nara Prefecture. Can you see a resemblance?
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I ordered a Shosetsu brew by Kanasawagawa Brewery in Yui ( Isojiman and Chumasa are also on his list) which came with a great-looking snack. The very friendly staff jhelped me choose an assortment of sashimi:
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Top: Kanpachi/Amberjack
Middle: Saba/Mackerel & Akami/lean tuna
Bottom: Hirame/sole
All great quality, tasty and cut in the traditional way that Lojol would expect!
As Mr. Ohshiro had realized he had found a soulbrother, he came back whenever he could get a minute or two in his busy izakaya, which sits half a dozen at the counter and a good dozen more at two tables set as “horikotatsu”, to engage in this unending conversation on sake and Shizuoka Brewers.
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As the conversation was just too great to go back home early, I ordered the grilled “kuro hampen”/dark sardine paste, a specialty only made in our Prefecture, served with grated ginger and chopped leeks. Mr. Ohshiro then insisted I sampled the “Dobu” nigori sake introduced in Akira Ose’s first book. Great sake which completely caught me off guard.
But I wanted to drink a full glass of that “Oni” above-mentioned, or I knew it would stayed on my mind fordays ahead. My host kindly pointed out it was pretty expensive (it was), but I waved his reservations away. I’m sure that Melinda, Etsuko and Tim would have approved! The brew was simply extraordinary, and for all its delicay went down so well with food! I know I’m going to do something really silly soon!

Blimey, I had to leave knowing we had not talked about half of what we ought have to, but I knew we had parted at the right time as I had some difficulty riding back home in a straight line on my bicycle!

Why do I have the impression that Odakui will become my “next door” (Japanese expression for the second place of the night)? Who am I to complain anyway?
Kanpai & Banzai!

ODAKUI
420-0034, Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Tokiwa-cho, 1-8-1, Aoba Yokocho, 2F
Tel. & Fax: 054-2536900
Business hours: !7:00~24:00

Sushi Tetsu Ohshio Restaurant

February 10, 2008


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Every sushi restaurant worthy of its name will come up with a specialty or two making it worth visiting and introducuing to friends.
Well, in the case of Sushi Tetsu Ohshio Restaurant in Shizuoka City, almost next to the large Sengen Shrine (you could combine the two, actually), I was lucky as it was not one but two morsels out of the ordinary which will entice me to come again.
I have in my mind that Chuck and Foodhoe would be definitely interested!
As the third generation, Kazuhiro Ohshio, is also a blog and fishing devotee, I went as far as ordering the following dish by e-mail!
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“Shirako Yuzu Kamayaki”/shirako/Cod Sperm Sacs cooked with Clams and mushrooms in a white miso-based bechamel inside a large yuzu/lime!
While I was waiying for it to be ready, I first oredered a plate of sashimi:
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Hirame/Sole, Maguro/Tuna, Kuro Ika, Kuro Squid, and Aji/Saurel. Fine little morsels, I can assure you!
I could not resist ordering the Ankimo/Frogfish Liver when I saw it under the show window glass!
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Simply served with ponzu, chopped leeks and momiji oroshi/grated daikon with chili pepper. Pefect!
I ordered the private brand sake, a junmai nama by Hana No Mai Brewery in Hamamatsu City, and exchanged a few words with Mr. Kazuhiko Ohshio, the second generation whose father first opened their restaurant about 56 years ago.
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I actually noticed later they were also serving a kome/rice shochu from Shizuoka Prefecture from the same Brewery. I have rarely seen any Sushi Restaurant both serving a sake and shochu made in our Prefecture!
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My “treat” finally came, and I slowly savoured it with the utmost concentration! What could I call it? A Japanese-style “vol-au-vent”? I simply will have to try and make it at home! Luckily the chef was kind enough to give me the recipe.
I did not have much time for that first visit, so I asked for my bill.
But I was asked to stay a few minutes to enjoy the “dessert” offered on the house to all customers at the end of their meal.
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Now, I’m sure that even Chuck will feel he has to sample it!
You will not find this “nothing to get excited about” morsel in the chef’s words outside Shizuoka Prefecture: a mousse (according to the chef, although I would call it a blanc-mange) made with sake-kasu/sake, white lees collected after the sake is pressed, topped with Shizuoka wasabi pickled in sake-kasu and a sweet sauce again made with sake-kasu!
Problem is, as it is a seasonal recipe, it will not be served very long and I might have to wait until next year to savour it again!

Sushui Tetsu Ohshio
420-0862 Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Sengen Cho, 1-36
Tel.: 054-245-1381
Credit Cards OK
Business hours: 11:00~22:00
Closed on Wednesdays

HOMEPAGE (Japanese)

Shizuoka Sake Tasting 12-3: Haginishiki Brewery

February 8, 2008


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This particular bottle from Haginishiki Brewery in Shizuoka City is a bit special. It was offered to me by my good friend, mr. Kawashima. It is a very limited edition sold only to personal clients. You will not find it in shops!

Haginishiki Junmai Ginjo Nama Genshu
Limited Edition
Rice: 100% Homare Fuji
Rice milled down to: 60%
Alcohol: 17=18 degrees
Bottled in December 2007

Clarity: very clear

Colour: light golden tinge

Aroma: Fruity, discreet. Bananas, pineapple.

Body: velvety

Taste: Fruity mixed with typical junmai tingle, emphasized by alcohol.
Bananas, almonds, pineapple.
Long tail with pineapple. Dryness revealed with next sip with more almonds and coffee beans.

Overall: A solid, very satisfying sake with a lot of character and body.
Drinks equally well on its own and with food.
Probably best appreciated slightly chilled.

Shizuoka Sake Tasting 8-4: Sogatsuru-Hagi no Kura Brewery

February 6, 2008


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I said the other day I had developped this special relation with Sogatsuru Hagi no Kura Brewery, but I have just finished the last bottle I had in stock! Will have to travel far to find the next one unless I can convince one of my liquor shop owners/friends to fetch me one!

Sogatsuru Hagi no Kura Brewery Junmai

Rice milled down to 55%
Bottled in August 2007

Clarity: very clear

Colour: Light Golden Tinge

Aroma: Fruits, bananas, mango, pineapple

Body: velvety

Taste: Sweet at first with a characteristic junmai tingle. Fruity: bananas, mango, bitter chocolate, almonds.
Turns quickly dry. Mango and bananas linger on the palate.

Overall: “Shizuoka Type” sake. Very pleasant. Reveals new facets with food.
On its own tastes like a dessert drink at times. Drinks so well with food. wouldn’t take anyone much time to guzzle down!
Can also be enjoyed as “nurukan”, I would say at a maximum of 40 degrees Celsius. Slightly chilled in summer could be a good idea, too.

Shizuoka Izakaya: Nanasei

February 6, 2008


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It was the turn of Mr. Kawashima, a member of our “Monthly Monday Eatout Group” to choose our meting place, and he elected for our ever-grwoing group (we accounted for 7 participants this time!) an original izakaya called Nanasei.
The restaurant was created 7 years ago by Mrs. Junko Sunada on the first floor of the large house she lives in with her family.
Actually the first floor consists of a counter (see picture above, sitting 6) and a Japanese tatami room (sitting 6~7).
The place is very comfortable and easy-going but sophisticated at the same time, all that for comparatively reasonable price. You have more the impression to eat at home than in izakaya/restaurant. It makes the place all the more attractive for small groups searching relative peace and quiet in an intimate environment.
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Mrs. Sunada makes a great use of local products, especially vegetables, with an accent on lightness and familiar (as of family) tastes, all the while creating original cuisine for all to enjoy, whatever the age or gender. A vegetarian (that I am not) could very well order or reserve a full meal there!
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The more you eat, the more you feel like drinking, and I have a suspicion that Mrs. Sunada has mastered the art to iduce a customer into sampling her drinking menu!
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Now, the last is the real reason behind our friend’s choice!
As he is a fervent lover of sake, the menu gives him ample cause for rejoicing apart of the beer and wine:
I will cite only the truly local sake among the long list:
Kaiun (Doi Brewery, Kakegawa City)
Shosetsu (Kanzawagawa Brewery, Yui City)
Hatsukame (Okabe-cho, Sida Gun)
Karakkaze (Hana No Mai Brewery, Hamamatsu City)

I would recommend Nanasei both to couples and groups who wish to share a gastronomic adventure away from the tussle of the town.
Set menus and a la carte are available. I would suggets both for value and interest to choose the set menu of the day and eventually add one or two more dishes if you are still hungry!

Nanase
Address: 420-0833 Shizuoka City, Higashi Takajo 2-40 (Go up Kitakaido from Shin Shizuoka Center, turn right at Casino Pachinko, second corner)
Tel.: 054-249551
Fax: 054-2486644
Business hours: 17:30~22:30
Closed on Sundays and 2nd and 3rd Mondays
Reservations advised

Shizuoka Sake Tasting 8-3: Sogatsuru-Hagi No Kura Brewery

February 4, 2008


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In 2004, Sogatsuru Brewery in Kakegawa City was in a real danger to disappear as they were officially “on vacation”. luckily, they had not relinquished their license when one of the brothers owning Haginishiki Brewery in Shizuoka City decided to go on his own and acquired the precious license. I said “precious” because it is practically impossible to get a new one from the Japanese Tax Bureau. As I had tasted a bottle of the old Sogatsuru Brewery, thinking it was the last one, I have developed a special fondness for that brewery now called Sogatsuru-Hagi no Kura.
Not only have they revived the Brewery, but they have recently made an extensive use of the appellation “Sagatsuru”, too.

Sogatsuru-Hagi No Kura Brewery-Ginjo

Rice milled down to 55%
Alcohol: 15~16 degrees
Bottled in October 2007

Clarity: very clear

Colour: Light golden tinge

Aroma: Sharp and light at he same time. Fruity: Plum, grapes, kinkan oranges.

Body: Velvety

Taste: Welcome acidity due to alcohol.
Very feminine in character. Fruity, flowers, oranges

Overall: A sake fit for tasting sessions. Probably best appreciated as aperitif or on its own. Shizuoka type sake. Refined

Shizuoka Izakaya: Kobayashi

February 4, 2008


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If you are hungry and thirsty, on your way to the station after a long day’s work, but not in a hurry, Kobayashi is certainly one of the most natural places to visit.
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It stands at a corner just before the back entrance of parco Dept. Store, only a few minutes walk from your train (or your next destination?). The present (young) generation looking after the establishment is the third one following the steps of its founder in the 1950’s.
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Both officionados of “oden” (fish paste balls and others slowly cooked in Japanese broth) and “kushiyaki” (japanese brochettes) will findtheir favourite morsels there. Note that the “oden” are very much “Shizuoka-style”, that cooked a long time and comparatively of daek colour, although the broth was lighter than in some other typical “odenya”
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As for drinks, local patrons enjoy the usual fare, but I had the pleasure to discover a local sake on sale, Sugunishiki Honjozo (Sugii Brewery, Fujieda City). If you on your way back to another Prefecture, make sure to taste it!

Kobayashi
Shizuoka City, Aoi-Ku, Koya Machi, 5-1
Tel.: 054-2524932
Business hours: 17:00~22:00
Closed on Sundays


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