From the Bar: Two distinctive sakes from Japan

We've debuted a new sake menu up here at Yamashiro and are proud to feature some of the finest sake from Japan right here in Hollywood. We're so excited about the new sake menu that we want to tell you all about it. So check back here at our blog to find out about these amazing sakes as we present you with tasting notes, a bit of history and food pairing recommendations. The next time you find yourself dining in our Japanese Garden or taking in the best view of Los Angeles, enjoy the taste of authentic Japanese sake as well.

Shichi Hon Yari, translated as “Seven Spearsmen,” is the most prominent sake brewed out of the Tomita Brewery located in the small town of Kinomoto in Japan’s Shiga Prefecture. The brewery is one of the oldest, founded in the 1540’s, and smallest in Japan. The name of the sake is a tribute to the seven Samurai who helped gain victory for the famous Japanese Warlord Hideyoshi in 1583. The sake is brewed using traditional methods in small batches, limited to 5,000 cases per year, by the brewery’s toji (brewmaster), Shizuo Naka, who is the youngest brewmaster to join the Noto Toji guild, using locally grown, ecologically safe Tamazakae sake rice.

The nose of this sake is earthy with mushroom and grass notes. After you get past the aroma the sake has a light, crisp mouth feel with flavors of grapefruit and melons. This complex but clean sake is a great introduction for those new to sake. The sake pairs beautifully with our American Wagyu Steak served on a hand-cut Himalayan salt plate. We’d also like to point out that the bottle features one of the most awesome labels we’ve seen. There’s nothing like a charging Samurai on the bottle to get you into the sake drinking mood.

Our next featured sake is Tozai’s Snow Maiden Junmai Nigori. Literally translated, Tozai means “East-West” which is fitting due to the company being the result of a collaboration between a couple of California wine lovers and dedicated Japanese sake brewers. Even more fitting that we serve his delightful sake up here at Yamashiro since we know a thing or two about merging the East and West. The sake is brewed out of the Kizakura Brewery, located in Kyoto Prefecture of Japan, which has been brewing sake for over 50 years. The two reasons for the breweries choice of location is due to Kyoto’s frigid waters that help keep ideal fermentation temperatures and also the Fushi-Mizu (crystal clear) water from the city of Fushimi is know for bringing out the full flavor of the sake. The koi featured on the label is homage to Hanako (flower maiden), a famous koi which reportedly lived for 226 years in the icy waters at the foot of Japan’s Mt. Ontake, hence the Snow Maiden title for this enchanting sake.

The sake has a creamy, porcelain look to it when poured. This is due to the process of making nigori sake, which is unfiltered as the rice remnants are left after the fermentation process giving it a cloudy look. The nose of this sake gives off aromas of earthy, floral scents and banana-coconut custard. You’ll taste apple and pear notes along with some sweet rice. There is a good weight to the sake in your mouth yet the finish is surprisingly dry. This sake pairs well with our Kurobuta Pork Asian-Style Carnitas. Enjoy this sake in our Japanese Garden dining area where you’ll find some koi like the one featured on the Tozai bottle.