Yoshi no Gawa Sake Dinner at Minami


There’s lots happening sake-wise at the end of this month, so please get out there and taste some of the great sakes that are available in town!

One event of note is a sake dinner at Yaletown’s Minami Restaurant which features the President of Yoshi no Gawa Sake Brewery, Koji Kawakami. He along with Minami’s sake specialist, Miki Ellis, will guide you through some sake basics, whilst tasting a variety of this Niigata brewery’s elegant lineup of sake. With your sakes, Minami is planning fabulous and delicious food pairings, specially designed for this tasting–yet another highlight to the already delicious evening.

Founded in 1548, Yoshi no Gawa is the oldest brewery in Niigata prefecture and Kawakami-san is the 19th generation president. With such a long and storied history, I’m certain you’ll be able to taste the precision and pageantry of Yoshi no Gawa’s sake brewing with each sip.

Sounds like fun! If you’re interested, please make sure you call Minami at 604.685.8080 to reserve a spot. The cost is $125 per person plus tax and gratuity.

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!



Fukumitsuya Sake Dinner At Shuraku – Oct. 17th

wind water man by tangerinee
wind water man, a photo by tangerinee on Flickr.

The multitude of sake events going on this October is unprecedented in my entire sake-loving life here in Vancouver! Not that I’m complaining.

To me, this means a turning point in sake awareness in the city, perhaps the country. Japanese food has come to the forefront internationally and globally, chefs are utilizing Japanese techniques, foods and incorporating them into their local cuisines.

It’s exciting times indeed and certainly sake should have its time to shine, at the zenith of Japanese cuisine worldwide.

Sake has been popular in the U.S. for some time, and we are finally ‘getting it’ here in Canada. I’m ecstatic to see the change and willingness of people to give sake a try—to find out they love it!

The upcoming dinner at Shuraku Sake Bar & Bistro should be another stellar evening. Fukumitsuya Brewery, makers of Fukumitsuya and Kagatobi lines, will be in Vancouver for the first time. Shuraku will be hosting a dinner with the sake maker, pairing five of Fukumitsuya’s sake with exceptional izakaya fare.

The price is a reasonable, $75, which includes tip and taxes. So be sure to check out what is sure to be a highly enjoyable event.

I have always loved Fukumitsuya’s sake. Above is a photo of their Fukumitsuya junmai called ‘Kazeyo Mizuyo Hotoyo’ or ‘Wind Water Man’. It is a great beginner’s sake: light, refreshing, lower in alcohol and acidity, quite smooth for a junmai.

Located in Kanazawa in Ishikawa Prefecture, which is NW of Tokyo, bordering the Sea of Japan. I have always been impressed by not only their lines of sake, but with their marketing savvy as well. There is a distinct emphasis on design that is evident in Fukumitsuya’s bottles and labelling. In Tokyo, the brewery has two mini-shops and a tasting bar that look like high-end fashion boutiques–homages to their dedication for producing elegant sake, inside and out.

Click here for details on the event.
Hope to see you there!

Pressing Matters: Kozaemon Sake & Kasu Dinner

pressing matters by tangerinee
pressing matters, a photo by tangerinee on Flickr. Explanation of the photo is below.

Hello Sake Fans,

A note on something coming up very soon, in fact it’s this Thursday.

Minami Restaurant in Yaletown is having another sake dinner featuring Nakashima Shuzo, makers of Kozaemon brand sake. Nakashima Shuzo is based in Mizunami, (Gifu Prefecture) in the Chubu region of Japan.Established over 300 years ago, this small family-run sake brewery has a deeply reverential reputation amongst sake lovers.

Here’s your chance to try what’s available in BC, paired with Minami’s exceptional food. The twist is Nakashima Shuzo will be providing Minami with their sake kasu which will be incorporated into each dish.

What is sake kasu? It is the lees that remain after a sake has been pressed–the solids that did not break down during fermentation. Kasu contains an abundance of amino acids, proteins, minerals, and B vitamins. It is even reputed to help lower cholesterol. The fermented aspect of the rice solids is highly effective for using as a fish/meat marinade as it softens protein extremely well. In Japan, kasu is mainly used as a fish marinade, in soups (kasu jiru) and as a pickling agent for vegetables, but the permutations are endless and kasu is getting more recognition for its versatility in the culinary world. And I have to add, some women even use kasu in their beauty regimen as a masque to soften and whiten the skin.

Doesn’t this make you curious to find out what Minami’s chefs will do with Kozaemon’s kasu? I sure am! And paired with Kozaemon sake too? It’s going to be a treat.

Kozaemon Nakashima, 14th Generation President of Nakashima Shuzo, will be in attendance.

Price is $145 (tax and tip included). Reception at 6:45pm and dinner starts at 7:00pm. You must call Minami directly to reserve a spot or go to this link if you would like to register online:


Hope to see you there!


My photo above illustrates how sake mash is separated using an assakuki, a mechanical press with hydraulic bladders that expand and push the moromi (mash) into the stainless steel plates. The solids form on the sides of the plates which are then easily removed from the assakuki (or more famously referred to as the Yabuba, which is a well-known brand of mechanical sake press). You can see the kasu is being extracted from the assakuki by the kurabito (brewery worker) and some of the not-so-perfect remains in the nearby container. This was taken at one of the very first breweries I had ever visited: Tama no Hikari Sake Brewery, located in Fushimi, Kyoto. Fushimi is a historically renowned district for sake making due to its pristine, soft water. Today, it is still the second largest producer of sake in the country.

Yoshi no Gawa Sake Dinner at Ki Modern Japanese & Bar

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

October 1st is almost upon us–well, what’s the significance of that date, you ask?! It’s International Sake Day! October 1st was designated Sake Day in Japan back in the 70’s. Officially it’s the first day of sake brewing season, as our favourite rice based tipple is traditionally brewed from Fall to late Winter/early Spring–when conditions are optimal and controlled for making sake.

We have a lot of events coming up in the city, sake-wise. This is great and I’m so glad we are finally seeing more interest in sake, as it is deserves more attention!

Join me Thursday, October 11th at Ki for a very cool sake dinner featuring Koji Kawakami, 19th Generation President of Yoshi no Gawa Sake Brewery, Niigata Prefecture. Yoshi no Gawa is Niigata’s oldest brewery–this prefecture has 97 breweries, so they are serious about their sake. This pride comes from their reputation for ‘like-water sake’, as I like to call it. Very dangerous as it is so smooth, it tastes like water. Given that, there can be lots of depth in Niigata sake as well. Yoshi no gawa has some incredible selections that I’m excited to try again, paired with Niigata-inspired food from Ki’s Chef Yoshi Tabo.

I took the attached photo in Niigata City where Sake no Jin takes places every year. It is probably the largest sake tasting I have ever been to in terms of sheer size and attendees. Over 80,000 people come through the Toki Messe convention centre over a weekend in March. Every single sake brewery–97 of them–in Niigata participates. It’s a sake spectacle and it’s a primo event for a sake lover. But I am digressing, I just wanted to illustrate that Niigata has a great reputation for sake and the event at Ki this month with Yoshi no Gawa is not to be missed!

Price is $150 which includes tax and tip. There will be a reception at 6:30pm and dinner begins at 7:00pm.

If you are interested in joining or have any queries, please contact Ki directly: Chris Irwin – 604.609.0600 or vancouver@kijapanese.com .

I hope to see you there!

Kanpai and Happy Sake Day!