Sake Book Review


Please check out my short review of John Gauntner‘s long-titled new book, “Sake Confidential: a beyond-the-basics guide to understanding, tasting, selection & enjoyment” at Eat North.

I also include a recipe for a sake hot toddy, which is the perfect warmer for this chilly fall weather we’re having of late.



Tonari Gumi Sake Tasting Event – October 4th, 2014

TG Sake Night 2014 Poster_Rev 3

As the sake brewing season begins, we, as consumers, can celebrate the new sake year by imbibing in our favourite drink, for a very good cause.

Tonari Gumi is a Vancouver volunteer-run non-profit that assists Japanese immigrants and their families, Japanese-Canadian seniors and others, in a variety of ways to provide mobility and support for community services in Japanese and English. Tonari Gumi’s sake tasting fundraising event is in its 13th year–it was the first large-scale sake event of its kind in Canada, and continues to be the largest sake event in Western Canada.

This year’s tasting, sponsored in conjunction with the Sake Association of BC, will be on Saturday, October 4th, will be its biggest yet–you will not want to miss this! There will be a depth of not only sake, but food as well, with popular Japanese restaurants: Miku, Minami, Shuraku, Guu and Hapa Izakaya – just some of the stellar participants providing small bites to enjoy with the plethora of sake available to taste.

Held at the Coast Coal Harbour Hotel, the event will have an auction component as well with tons of great items to bid on. The tasting will run from 7pm – 9:30pm.

There’s still time to pick up an early bird ticket at $75. After Sept. 19th, the tickets will be $80. You must purchase a ticket prior to the event as there will not be tickets available at the door. VIP tickets are $115 and include a special sake tasting seminar prior to the big event.

Contact Tonari Gumi to purchase tickets.

Hope to see you there!


Upcoming Sake Seminars at Nikkei Matsuri


I hope you’re all enjoying the nice summer we’re having! I wanted to send you a note about some upcoming sake seminars happening at the Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre in Burnaby for their Nikkei Matsuri event. The festival will have lots of things to see, eat, taste and learn about–in particular for us, sake geeks–there will be sake!
The Sake Association of BC (SABC) is sponsoring four seminars during the weekend festival for a mere $20 per session. The hour-long seminar will feature five sakes to taste and discuss, as well as a great introduction to a bit of sake history and the grades/styles of sake available. By the end of the tasting, you will have no problem ordering sake from a restaurant or purchasing sake at your local liquor store.

Here’s a link to the details and for ordering ahead of time via the SABC’s website. Tickets are also available at Shuraku Sake Bar & Bistro, Viti Wine and Lager, and Artisan SakeMaker. You can buy tickets on the day of the seminar, but the last seminars sponsored by the sake association during the Cherry Blossom Festival were sold out, so best to get them early.

I hope to see you at the tastings!

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 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.

Shio Koji – Day 3: Break it down

A definite change in the shio koji mixture today. Fermentation is starting to occur, and the breaking down of rice is evident.

It has become a mash, definitely more watery than yesterday. Still it is pretty eye-poppingly salty.

I’m happy to see something is happening. I suspect with the warmer weather, the shio koji will be done in less than a week.

The smell is changing a bit, less chestnuts and more bananas.

Hello world!

This blog is going to be about sake or sake-related items/events. I hope you will come visit and share in my love for Japanese sake, food and just general grazing.