Upcoming: Vancouver’s Largest Sake Tasting Event – October 10th!

Sake Night Thumb 3

Happy Belated Sake Day!  October 1st is Nihonshu no Hi — the official start to the sake brewing season in Japan. There are many events going on this month and we are fortunate to have Western Canada’s largest sake tasting event to coincide with October’s global sake celebrations.

Tonari Gumi’s 14th Sake Tasting Event will be held on October 10th, 2015 from 7:00-9:30pm at the Coast Coal Harbour Hotel. More info can be found on the event’s Facebook page. This fundraising event to help support Tonari Gumi’s social programs for seniors and new immigrants is vital to the organization.

Tickets are $75 per person, in advance until October 9th, and there’s also VIP tickets you can purchase which are $95. VIP’s get a special seminar and exclusive tasting prior to the event start. Go to their FB page for more details.

Along with a huge selection of sakes — 13 importers from the SABC, the Sake Association of BC, will be on-hand to pour and share great stories about their sakes — there will be a ton of nibbles to accompany the array of nihonshu you’ll be able to taste. Well-known local restaurants such as Forage, Octopus’ Garden, Minami and Hapa Izakaya will be preparing delicious appetizers for the event. A silent auction with lots of goodies will be available as well.

Sounds like a fun night and all the money goes to helping a worthy cause. Hope to see you there!

To find more about Tonari Gumi and their programs, please check out their website. They have many events going on year-round, including special food and sake events. I did a great seminar at their new facility back in March and it was a lot of fun. So please go check out their website for other upcoming events.



Ming Pao Feature on Sake


I was fortunate to be featured in last Sunday’s Ming Pao Newspaper in Vancouver. The Ming Pao is one of the largest Chinese daily newspaper chains based in Hong Kong, with overseas outposts at several major Canadian cities.

I recently received my Level 3 Award in Sake by the WSET, one of the world’s largest wine/spirits educators based in London, England, with schools that offer certifications across the globe. Being the first female in Canada to pass the examinations, the newspaper wanted to ask me some key questions about sake. I will be teaching the course as well, and hope to set something up in Vancouver.

I was happy they focused on how sake can be paired with food outside the realm of Japanese. Chinese food, in particular, goes wonderfully with sake. Because sake has so much umami–the 5th flavour/sense–and Chinese food has great amounts of umami–natural or sometimes added (msg)–the two elements match exquisitely.

Ah, Dim sum with a nice junmai ginjo or a sturdy junmai!

Steamed Chicken’s feet, a dim sum standard which I love, pairs nicely with Shichihonyari Gin Fubuki Junmai, a new offering in the BC market. Instead of warm tea, try a warm version of Fuji Takasago Yamahai Junmai Ginjo with dumplings like har gow or sui mai and don’t forget the cheung fun–a steamed rice noodle wrapped in shrimp, beef, or mushroom variations, topped with a light kiss of oil and soy sauce.

The article also talks about how sake goes well with pizza–yes that’s right, pizza!

Sake is extremely versatile and with less than a third of the acidity of wine (some experts say lesser), the ability to match all manner of international foods with sake is endless.

All this talk of sake and food is making me hungry!



Yoshi no Gawa Sake Tasting in Richmond


This Friday, October 17th, you can meet in person, Koji Kawakami, president of Yoshi no Gawa Sake Brewery from Niigata, Japan. He will be making a special appearance at Toku Restaurant in Richmond, BC, pouring some special sakes for customers. The restaurant, located at Lansdowne Mall, will be offering specials upon purchase of a bottle of Yoshi no Gawa to celebrate Kawakami-san’s visit. Above, is a photo of me with Kawakami-san (L) and Patrick Ellis (R), president of Blue Note Wines & Spirits, Canadian importer of Yoshi no Gawa.

Kawakami-san tells me that his brewery was established in 1548, and is the 5th oldest continuously operating sake brewery in Japan. They have never stopped producing in over 460 years! That’s pretty amazing–and something tells me they have a pretty good handle on making sake because of it. Because of its long-standing history, Yoshi no Gawa is also Niigata prefecture’s oldest brewery, so in fact, they are pioneers in this famous sake-producing region.

Kawakami-san will be in attendance starting at 6pm. Please say hello to him and taste some of his lovely sake.



October 1st is Nihonshu no Hi – World Sake Day!


Hello Fellow Sake Fans,
Just a brief note about October 1st, which is World Sake Day. It marks the start of the brewing season and is a great reason to get together with friends to share in a boisterous KANPAI!!

Please get out there and enjoy some sake on October 1st! If you are indeed free, there is a tasting in Richmond tomorrow with Masumi Sake. Miyasaka Shuzo is an amazing brewery from Suwa, Nagano and their well-known brand is called Masumi, which is now available in BC.

Keith Norum, the Overseas Operations Director at Miyasaka Shuzo will be on-hand to pour samples of Masumi Junmai Ginjo “Karakuchi Kiippon” and chat about sake. He is a Canadian who has lived in Japan  for over 20 years and has some great stories to tell. Special food offers will be available with purchase of Masumi sake at the event.
The event will be at Toku Restaurant inside the Lansdowne Mall in Richmond. It is located on the Alderbridge Way side of the mall near the Toys R Us.

If you can’t make it, try to have some sake tomorrow! Also, this week in sake, you can check out the Tonari Gumi Sake Tasting Event. Tonari Gumi is the Japanese volunteer association in Vancouver, which assists Japanese seniors and new immigrants with their outreach programs. Their fundraising event boasts the largest sake tasting in Western Canada and it’s happening this Saturday, October 4th! Hope to see you with sake in hand this week!

Happy Nihonshu no Hi! Happy Sake Day!


Sake Seminar and Tasting at Sakura Days Japan Fair


cherry blossoms at the van dusen botanical gardens


Happy Spring Sake Friends!
The nearly month-long Cherry Blossom Festival is about to kick off this week in Vancouver and one of the premier events is the Sakura Days Japan Fair at the beautiful Van Dusen Botanical Gardens. This year, there will be 4 sake seminars (2 each on Saturday and Sunday) sponsored by the newly formed, Sake Association of BC.

Dates and Times:
Saturday, April 5: 2pm & 3:30pm (seminar/tasting is an hour)
Sunday, April 6: 2pm & 3:30pm (seminar/tasting is an hour)
Price: $10  (this is on top of the Japan Fair entrance fee)

Learn about sake from 3 certified Advanced Sake Professionals (ASP) and taste 5 unique varieties. Your sake guides will be myself, Miki Ellis from Miku/Minami Restaurants, and Iori Kataoka from Shuraku/Zest Japanese Restaurants. There will be much fun and discussion! Tickets for the tasting are a mere $10 on top of entrance fee to the Fair. You need to pre-register for the event on the same day you are attending. Come by to the entrance area of Visitor Centre Classroom where the seminar will take place, and book a spot. Registration opens at 10am, both days. Only 20 attendees per class, please bring a government-issued photo id. You must be 19 yrs of age or older to attend. Here’s a link for more info.

Hope to see you there!

Sake Column in Eat North

Please check out my sake stories in new Canadian food-centric website, Eat North. The intention of the site is to focus and celebrate food and drink with a Canadian twist. My hope is to highlight what’s going on in the Canadian sake scene as much as possible.

If you have a story idea or have an upcoming sake related event in Canada, I’d love to hear from you.

In the meantime, I’ve written a three-part series on the burgeoning sake brewing scene in Canada. I speak with ArtisanSakeMaker in Granville Island, Vancouver; Ontario Spring Water Sake Company in Toronto and YK3 Sake Producer in Richmond, BC. Let me know what you think. I’d appreciate the feedback and any suggestions you might have!