Another great evening with sake was had recently at Shuraku Sake Bar & Bistro, featuring Fukumitsuya Brewery from Ishikawa.
Junichi Yageta of Fukumitsuya was in attendance, providing us with important sake insights and some never-been-had sake delights direct from Japan–always a treat. Fukumitsuya is a “junmai-gura” – meaning they only make junmai sake. Many breweries will have sake that are aruten, short for arukoru tenka.
This means a tiny bit of brewers alcohol or distilled alcohol has been added to the sake. Brewers will do this to attain a certain desired flavor profile. Aruten sake is generally lighter, smoother tasting. Junmai, or pure rice sake, will have a fuller flavor and oftentimes, you can taste the rice or riceyness (nouveau sake vocabulary) in the sake. It’s all about preference, and either is fine in my books, but there are some who are very particular and will only drink junmai sake. There are groups (importers) who promote junmai-only breweries, and one of them even has an office in Vancouver. Obviously there are breweries who heed the philosophy that enhancing a sake with alcohol no matter how little, is not pure sake–Fukumitsuya being one of them.
Junmai-ness aside, I’ve always loved this brewery’s design sense. They produce quite a few different lines–Kagatobi, Kuroobi, Fukumasamune, Kazeyo Mizuyo Hitoyo to name but a few. Each has their own distinct design aura about them and there is obviously great thought into not only the taste of the individual lines, but in their appearance also.
Yageta-san explained to me they have three designers who work on the sake marketing materials, along with bottle and label aesthetics. He claims no other brewery has three dedicated art directors, and judging from the care of the labels, the website and promo materials I’ve seen, I wholeheartedly believe him.
Classy inside and out, I’m a big fan of this brewery. Check out the great pairings of sake with food created by Shuraku’s awesome chefs, here.
The highlight of the night was the house made tofu with x.o. sauce. The tofu was pillowy delicate, like chawan mushi. The x.o. sauce gave it that needed umph–a nice contrast of texture and flavour. Paired with the Kagatobi Ai Junmai Daiginjo, the softness of the tofu went in tandem with the elegance of the sake. This junmai daiginjo has a mild sweetness, lending a subtle counterpoint to the tofu’s x.o. sauce.
Shuraku’s presentation of dishes was phenomenal. We were also treated to a too brief sake 101 with Shuraku’s owner, Iori Kataoka, who provided guests with a great overview of sake from photos of her sake trips to Japan.
Lots of great sake events of late. I am well sated, but eager for the next sake excursion.