Tonari Gumi Sake Tasting Fundraiser

daiginjo sakes by tangerinee
daiginjo sakes, a photo by tangerinee on Flickr.

The 12th edition of Tonari Gumi’s annual sake tasting event will take place on Saturday, October 12th at The Coast Coal Harbour Hotel. It’s the largest sake tasting held in BC and not to be missed if you are interested in the good stuff.

All the local importers will be in attendance, so it’s a great opportunity to see what is available in BC and get a taste of some harder to find sakes–those which are not available at our local LDB government stores (and believe me, there are many as we sake lovers can attest and lament).

Tickets are still available. Please come and support a great cause. All proceeds go directly to funding the volunteer association’s many invaluable seniors programs.

I hope to see you there!

Seafood & Sake Pairing at Kingyo Izakaya on Monday, July 29th

glass o-chokko by tangerinee
glass o-chokko, a photo by tangerinee on Flickr.

I wanted to pass along a quick email to inform you of a great event coming up early next week.

Unfortunately, I can’t make it, but I’m hoping some of you can.
Kingyo is featuring some new cool sakes with some seafood pairing fun!
Join, Mariko Tajiri, Sake Specialist for That’s Life Gourmet, purveyors of fine wine and sake, at Kingyo for an educational and tasty evening.

Here’s a list of what’s in store:
Hakkaisan Sake (Niigata Prefecture) / 3 kinds of Carpaccio
Kuheji Sake (Aichi Prefecture) / Deep fried squid
Snow crab sushi
Beisuika Sake (Gunma Prefecture)/ Negitoro sushi

Price is $50 (not including tax and gratuities)
There will be lots of sake to taste!

Kingyo Izakaya
871 Denman Street, Vancouver
Call to reserve a spot: 604.608.1677
There’s a maximum of 8 for this event, so call ASAP for a seat.


Sake Pairing Dinner with Yamatogawa Shuzo

ImageHello Sake Friends!

Let’s start the summer right with a sake dinner at Shuraku Sake Bar & Bistro, the city’s preeminent sake destination.

The focus will be from Northern Japan where Yamatogawa Sake Brewery produces their excellent, well-structured sakes, known for their brands: Rashiku and Yaemon.

Yamatogawa Shuzo is from Kitakata City in Fukushima. The town is famous for their high quality sake and exceptional ramen shops. Established in 1790 during the Edo Period, Yamatogawa Shuzo continues it’s dedication to using only the best organic rice to make their sakes.

Shuraku is offering what is sure to be a delectable 5-course dinner paired with Yamatogawa Shuzo’s awesome sakes to match. The event is priced well at $55 for all food, sake, taxes and gratuity included and will sell out quickly. Here’s a chance to check out a great brewery–with representatives from Yamatogawa in attendance who will share their vast knowledge of sake with you.

Please make sure you call Shuraku directly to book a seat for the dinner at 604.687.6622.

Wishing you all a happy summer and I hope to see you there!



Hakkaisan Tasting

sake bottles by tangerinee
sake bottles, a photo by tangerinee on Flickr.

A terrific event is coming up in a couple of days that I highly recommend you attend.

Timothy Sullivan of will be in Vancouver at Minami co-hosting a Hakkaisan sake tasting with Miki Ellis, the restaurant’s resident sake expert.

Sullivan is based in New York and is one of a few that have been deemed ‘Sake Samurais’ in Japan for their tireless efforts to promote and educate the public about nihonshu. He is also brand ambassador for Hakkaisan and this will be his first visit to our fine city.

Hakkaisan, from Niigata Prefecture, is an extremely popular premium sake brewery in Japan. Their sake is smooth like water. It’s dangerous sake because it’s so darn easy to drink! You’ll get to taste their entire lineup of sakes–a first in BC.

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013, 5pm-7pm
Minami Japanese Restaurant
1118 Mainland St (Yaletown)

$39 includes sake, delicious accompaniments from Minami’s award-winning chefs, tax and gratuity.

More info can be found here:

Hope to see you there!

Sake Social 2013

A long standing summer event in Vancouver is the Powell Street Festival–a Japanese Canadian cultural celebration. This popular event, in its 37th incarnation, will take place August 3rd & 4th at Oppenheimer Park, which was once the hub of Vancouver’s Japantown.

To raise funds for the festival, a special sake tasting will be held at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden on Saturday, June 1st, 2013 from 7-10pm. More info can be found here.

If you purchase tickets before May 11th, you’ll be given an early bird discount–$35 for 4 sakes and nibbles. A small fee will be charged for additional tastes beyond the initial 4 sakes. After the 11th, the price goes up to $45.

Sounds like a pretty skookum deal and all the large sake distributors in town will be present, promoting their wares. Not a bad opportunity to check out what’s new and exciting in the local sake market, and heck, for a great cause too!

Hope to see you there!


Tengumai Now Available in Canada

Sought-after among sake geeks, Tengumai, the revered brand by Shata Shuzo from Ishikawa prefecture, is finally available in Canada.

Tengumai is famous because the majority of this line’s sake utilizes the Yamahai method of yeast starter (or moto/shubo, as it’s called in Japan).

The Yamahai method (discovered in 1909) is based on the original principles of creating a moto–yeasts and lactic acid are formed naturally in a starter batch. The modern day, Sokujo method, does away with the guesswork of rogue yeasts. Nowadays these are added along with a small amount of lactic acid to allow said yeasts to happily do their work without other microbes getting in the way.

The Tengumai line follows tradition, which produces a full bodied, nicely rounded sake with umami umph! Yamahai sake generally has an interesting depth, good acidity and pairs nicely with heavier foods such as meats and even cheese.

To commemorate the launch of Tengumai in Vancouver, there will be a dinner with 6 courses each paired with Tengumai sakes at Zest Restaurant on April 24th. Kazunari Shata, Director of Operations at Shata Shuzo, will be in attendance.

Exciting times here in Canada as we’re seeing more interesting sake come into our market.


Sake Vaccine? Never Say Never.

 sake rice from tsuki no katsura brewery

Note: I’ve been transferring some stories from my old Blogger site. This is something from a few years ago.


Recent articles in health sciences revealing the multi-faceted usage of rice as a drug have piqued my sake interest. The origins of rice date back well over 5000 years in Asia and today is considered a staple for nearly half of the world’s population.


Rice with its high starch, but low protein content has already been viewed with massive potential as a construction material in parts of Asia, in its powder form as a polishing agent, its general lack of allergenic properties for baby food and skin creams, and it’s various food permutations as a gluten-free alternative. With such diversity of usage, rice can be considered a superfood—adaptable, easily digested, and healthy.


Scientists in Japan have taken rice to a new sphere of superdom in utilizing it for medicinal purposes. According to a recent article in the Financial Times, MucoRice, is being developed as an edible vaccine more efficient than immunization. When the vaccine rice is consumed, the body produces antibodies, which will combat the viral properties of the pathogen.


The University of Tokyo study, led by researcher, Hiroshi Kiyono, attempts to inoculate small amounts of a cholera toxin (which in such minute form is non-toxic for humans) on an intracellular level into the rice. The ability for the rice drug to digest and spread its antibodies beyond what a regular shot could defend against is proving to be far superior in cell uptake.


Tests on mice revealed the rice drug inoculated the rodents for over six months and an additional four with a single dose booster. Furthermore, the rice vaccine does not have to be refrigerated with a longer shelf life compared to a regular vaccine. The efficacy of such an oral vaccine would benefit developing countries where refrigeration is difficult to maintain and viral outbreak is high. It also does away with requiring needles or syringes.


Altering rice to build allergy tolerance is also being studied. Kameda Seika, one of Japan’s largest rice snack manufacturers, is researching the concept of germinating rice with lactic acid to produce better intestinal health and anti-allergenic properties upon consumption.


This lactic acid rice had me thinking about sake and how this new science may affect how sake will be made in the near future. If a rice laced with lactic acid can be produced, how about a rice with aspergillus oryzae already embedded within?  Perhaps once day omitting the need for the painstaking 48-hour koji process? This could be an extremely huge breakthrough in sake-making. Or maybe a sake that had greater measurable health benefits beyond its pleasant buzz. Of course there are many factors requiring ample questioning and reflection before we go too crazy with such assumptions, but the possibility is there with this new research. 


As sake lovers, we know the benefits of the drink as it stands, but with the advent of such medical rices, sake’s future could diverge into the realm of a new biotechnological niche.