Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Sake with Friends

The evenings throughout the week in Tokyo were reserved for delving into the multitudinous opportunities to indulge in drinking sake and eating some of the best food made to accompany it. Fortunately (and not coincidentally), my Tokyo-based friends share this passion (three of them being bloggers on the subject, and one a world-renowned sake guru) so choosing places to go to partake were not an issue. On separate evenings, Melinda and her husband J.P., Etsuko-san and her husband Ted, Hitomi-chan and sister Hanayo-chan, and John all led me to extraordinarily fine sake and drink. The photos will attest to it!

Etsuko-san and Ted took Hitomi-chan and me to Yoshimoto in Shinjuku where we ordered flight after flight of jizake to drink with Chef Ohara-san's exquisitely prepared sashimi and his own sake-friendly creations. The Kishi sisters and I discovered Ishii, a restaurant specializing in the cuisine of Yamagata prefecture where we ate the tenderest, most flavorful, crispy, and light tonkatsu (pork cutlets) imaginable.

My final day with John Gauntner was a tour of sake "through the drinking glass" (as our friend Melinda has perfectly named her blog about eating and imbibing in Tokyo). After attending a tasting of the sake of about twenty breweries from Shimane prefecture, John and I made a brief stop at the Hasegawa Saketen in Tokyo Station to pick up a bottle of Izumo Fuji Ginjo, an artisanal sake discovered at the tasting, then hopped back on the train and set out for my sake purchasing Mecca, Ajino Machidaya. Two trains and a zig-zagging twenty minute hike later, we reached our destination. It was all that I had hoped it to be and more with all sorts of small production premium sake to bring back to enjoy with our nihonshu-loving friends in NYC. Kimura-san, the owner and shacho, introduced us to two of his recent koshu finds and generously offered a package of wonderful organic mugi (barley) miso.

After an hour of fascinating conversation and drink, he drove us to the railroad station and sent us on our way back to Shibuya for an izakaya dinner by Chef Kawanairi at Nakamura that put the perfect cap on the perfect day.

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