Category Archives: sake

Shizuoka Sake Tasting: Shidaizumi Brewery/Organic Sake-Junmai Ginjo

Shidaizumi Brewery in Fujieda City has been conducting some very interesting experiments with organic ake rice for some time.
With Aoshima Brewery in the same city, a new movement has been started for a new and growing trend: Organic sake.

Shidaizumi Brewery hence received the Ecofarmer License from the Shizuoka Prefectureas a member of the JA Oigawa Yaizu Sake Rice Research Committee.

The Brewery used organic rice of the Yamada Nishiki strain cultivated by 11 farmers in Yaizu City:
Kohji Ohata, Toshiyuki Umehara, Masamitsu Masuda, Tatsuo Muramatsu, Teruo Matsumura, Toshiyuki Sone, Hirao Noda, Masashi Suzuki, Naomi Yamamoto, Riji Yagi and Kazuyuki Ishikawa.

Rice: Organic Yamada Nishiki all grown in Shizuoka Prefecture
Rice milled to: 55%
Yeast: NEW-5 (Shizuoka)
Dryness: +5.0
Acidity: 1.2
Alcohol: 15~16 degrees
Bottled in December 2010

Clarity: Very clear
Color: Transparent
Aroma: Bananas
Body: Fluid
Taste: Dry attack with junmai petillant.
Soft but complex.
Warms up back of the palate and ends on a dry note.
Banana, almond, apricot, memories of coffee beans and dark chocolate.
Dry melon appears with food with more nuts and dark chocolate.
Elegant, easy to drink.

Overall: Ever talked of a “feminine drink”?
A sake not easy to discern.
Ladies would be screaming for it?

Must-see tasting websites:
-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery
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Shizuoka Izakaya: Taisaku

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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

Soba/Buckwheat Restaurant: Yoshino

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I love soba, and many Japanese and expats do too!
It is not only great for health (vegetarians, listen carefully), it is tasty and satisfying!
Unfortunately there is soba and soba. Meaning: a lot of places do have to be avoided…
What makes Yoshino special is that they are very exactting about their quality and serve only soba on the day. If they run out, they simply close the place!
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For the connoisseurs hey serve both ni-hachi (80%) and ju-wari (100% which tend to run out quickly!)
Although Mr. Hiromichi Yoshino opened his restaurant only in 1999 after serving his time in another famous soba restaurant, Kuromugi in Shizuoka, the place has become so popular you do have to choose your time of the day to enjoy the food. Actually, you ought to take your time as this is a real “slow-food” soba restaurant. As it sits only 22 plus a few at the counter, you will understand it could become a scramble sometimes.
The more for its side dishes (“tsumami”):
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The “tamagoyaki” (fine, some vegetarians might not agree!) and the:
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“yakimiso” (soba/buckwheat powder mixed with miso and cooked under the grill), a must in any good soba restaurant.
But people who really know me would not be convinced if I fail to mention that also serve Shizuoka sake!
They serve no less than 8 kinds!:
Fujinishiki/Arabashiri (Shibakawa Cho)
Hatsukame/junmai + Kame dai ginjo 3 year-old koshu (Okabe cho)
Isojiman/ dai ginjo + junmai ginjo (Yaizu City)
Kikuyoi/daiginjo (Fujieda City)
Onnanakase/Oomuraya-Wakatake daiginjo (Shimada City)
Kokkou/junmai ginjo (Fukuroi City)
Now, a little secret for the sake lovers, these high-quality sake certainly come cheaper than anywhere else!

Apart of the whole gamut of cold and hot soba, they serve exquisite tempura, satsumaage, oniage, yakimiso,and so on.

Last but not least it becomes a no-moking place at lunch!

Yoshino
420-0839 Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Takajo Machi, 1-7-10 (just behind Shin Shizuoka Center)
Tel.: 054-2553277
Business hours: 11:00~22:00 (or until run out soba)
“Kaiseki course” on reservations

Tanuki No Ana

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Tanuki No Ana (“The Racoon’s Lair”) is a must if you wish to tell later that you have tasted Shizuoka Prefecture’s best sake wherever you might want to boast about it!
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Mr. Makoto Naruoka and his wife Chieko moved to the present address in 1997, but have been serving Shizuoka Sake since 1980!
Actually, if you check the labels posted on their window, you will find out that some breweries have gone out of existence!
A regular customer there, I hallenged the following brews on that day:
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Denichiro by Kokkou Brewery (Fukuroi City), Hakuin Masamune by Takashima Brewery (Numazu City) and Fuji-Takasago Brewery.
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Served with some hearty food perfect with sake, I had a hard time to limit myself once again.
I will spare you from viewing all thos labels again but just know that Tanuki No Hana has no less than 20 breweries fro the following 18 breweries:
Oomuraya (wakatake-Shimada City), Kokkou (Fukuroi City), Isojiman (Yaizu City), Syosetsu, Haginishiki, Yoshiya-Chummasa, Sanwa-Garyubai, Kumpai (Shizuoka City), Kikuyoi, Shidaizumi, Sugii-Suginishiki (Fujieda City), Fuji-Takasago (Fujinomiya City), Takashima-Hakuin Masamune (Numazu City), Fujinishiki (Fuji Gun), Moriomoto (Kikugawa City), Hatsukame (Okabe Cho), Doi-Kaiun (Kakegawa City).
Sake-lover, what are you waiting for?

Tanuki No Ana
Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Ryogae-Cho, 2-2-5
Tel.: 054-2556704
Business hours: 17:00~23:00
Closed on Sundays
Credit cards OK

Izakaya: Yukichi

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The city of Fujieda have seen a lot of changes these past years with more people coming to live there due to the crowding of nearby Shizuoka City. The old JR Station has disappeared to be replaced by a whole urban complex around both exits. It means that the city has more or less become the “bedtown” of Shizuoka City. It is not all negative as it has encouraged businesses, especially in the restaurateur’ field, to set shop for the benefit of returning workers and company employees.
And some of them are definitely worth visiting.

So, Patrick of Think Twice met me last Friday at Fujieda Station and we went to Yukichi I had a checked an hour before.

Yukichi is an izakaya of a better standard opened in 2005 and it is extremely popular. We were very lucky to get our seats as most were already reserved! Most customers are in their early 30’s.
Now as a general rule, one should patronize only izakaya who serve local sake/jizake. We were not disappointed: Yukichi has some great ones on hand from Aoshima Brewery/Kikuyoi (Fujieda City) and Hatsukame (Okabe Cho)!
I also always make a point to order a chef’s sashimi set recommendation.
The one we were served (see pic above) included not only great fish but succulent chicken sashimi. An acquired taste for some I must agree, but such an unusual combination.

Now, the fact that especially makes you want to come back to Yukichi is that the Lady in charge, Ms. Yoko Naruoka will come to show you a tray with the fresh fish of the day for you to choose from before the “banchyo/chef”, Mr. Masaki Kobayashi prepares your choice either as sashimi or cooked fish as you wish. We opted for “kisu tempura” and “maguro no kama yaki”!

As we had planned to visit another place later, we limited ourselves to a glass of each sake cited above with an extra serving of “tamago yaki” and took our leave with the promise to come back very soon!

Yukichi
Fujieda City, Ekimae, 1-7-21, taiko Bldg. 1F
Tel.: 054-6469494
Business hours: 17:00~24:00
Closed on Sundays and every second Monday

Hana No Mai Brewery

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On May 14th, I finally managed to find the time to go to Hamamatsu and visit the largest Brewery 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.
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The brewery 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!
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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, while the brewing of sake is being delegated in great part to Mr. Jun Aoki (32).
This is a Large brewery 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 brewing of sake and distilling of shochu and liqueurs are from the Prefecture:
Rice strains are Shizuoka Yamada Nishiki, Homare Fuji, Shizuoka Goyakumangoku and Shizuoka Natsushizuka.
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Mr. Tsuchida develops his own HD-1 NEW 5 and K901 (Shizuoka) yeasts.
Alcohol is also made in our Prefecture.
Hana No Mai has been brewing premium sake only since 1995.
Thay have the license to distill kome/rice shochu of extravagant quality as well as umeshu from junmai sake.
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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,
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including hangars for the rice,
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enormous vats for all the sake where sake was brewing,
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the room where rice was fermenting (see above picture), the bottling system for a new product,
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all under the benevolent protection of a small shinto altar
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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 Brewery presently exports to the U.S., Canada and Hong Kong.

Another piece of good news, for collectors, as Hana No Mai Brewery brews more than 200 private brands for local businesses!
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Last, but not least, two sake brewed by Hana No Mai will feature in an international virtual tasting in New York, Tokyo and Shizuoka whose results will be silmutaneously published on the 21st of May by Melinda, Etsuko, Valerie, Timothy, Hiroko & Eric and your servant!

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
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