Ever wonder how the overwhelming choices of sake wind up at your favorite restaurant or liquor store? One way is through organized sake tastings that target restaurant managers and retailers.
Ishikawa Prefecture is located along the Sea of Japan in the central part of Japan’s main island. The area boasts high-quality seafood as well as vegetables from its mountains. These mountains, namely Mt. Hakusan in the south, also provide the water used in brewing Ishikawa’s sake.
That sake was in abundance at the tasting at Sakagura, as six different Ishikawa-based breweries provided samples of their brands, all of which are available in New York City through distribution companies such as NY Mutual Trading. These brewery representatives had the chance to impress one-on-one those in the restaurant and alcohol retail businesses.
For Atsushi Kono, manager of the East Side yakitori establishment Tori Shin, the tasting provided him with the opportunity to find quality sake to pair with the organic grilled chicken skewers he serves each night. “I can come here and taste different sake to buy for my restaurant,” says Kono.
In addition to introducing Ishikawa sake, the event was a platform to promote the food and other products produced in Ishikawa Prefecture. Unique prefectural specialties such as yubeshi, a Japanese sweet made from a blend of yuzu (citrus) and mochi (glutinous rice); baby cucumbers topped with Kaga miso, a salty and richly textured organic soybean paste from the prefecture’s southwestern corner; sweet shrimp marinated in a sardine sauce; crab kamaboko (fish cake); and duck with vegetables and raw fu, a type of Japanese crouton made from wheat gluten.
Lacquerware and Kutaniyaki pottery were on display, giving attendees a glimpse into Ishikawa’s four hundred years of traditional craftsmanship. We also received boldly colorful sake cups and beautifully dyed handkerchiefs as omiyage (souvenirs).
While tastings such as this at Sakagura open doors to commerce between those who make sake and those who serve it, it is also one of the ways in which the Gohan Society provides outreach to culinary professionals interested in Japan and Japanese food culture. For more information on the Gohan Society, visit www.gohansociety.org. To learn more about Ishikawa Prefecture, go to www.hot-ishikawa.jp.