Sunday, January 03, 2010

11/28/09: Day 9 in Japan, Part II - Visiting Tenzan Brewery, Continued

What are these, you ask? They are pieces of tree that make up the sugidama (a.k.a., "sakabayashi"), those green or brown balls (depending on the season) you see decorated in front of breweries. It takes about 1 week between brewing to complete.

After the tour came tasting. I tried Tenzan line of saké... well as Shichida line, which reflects the family name of the proprieter.

Tenzan brand is made in the traditional style. From this group, I especially enjoyed their "Extra Dry" honjozo (SMV: +10, Acidity: 1.2, Rice: Saga grown Reihou, Seimaibuai: 65%) for their sweet flavors of grain and clean, sharp, and dry finish. Interestingly, it says "saké for the guys" on the label.

Shichida brand, on the other hand, was started by Kensuké Shichida, the current Managing Director. These sakés are made in the image of what Shichida-san sees as ideal saké, and are brewed unfiltered and pasteurized once, prior to shipping. I particularly enjoyed their Junmai Ginjo Muroka Nama (SMV: +4~5, Acidity: 1.5~1.6, Rice: Yamadanishiki, Reihou, Seimaibuai: 50%). The saké had a sweet aroma of a ginjo, followed by gentle yet firm flavor.

After the tasting, Shichida-san treated me to their local gourmet: koi. Koi, as you may know, is carp. Ogi City is famous for carp, and many restaurants shuttle in diners with buses.

Appetizer comprised of locally grown ingredients. I have never had the green leaf vegetable next to the cucumber. It was incredibly crunchy, and good.

Miso soup was next, containing koi meat. They used white miso, which is milder in flavor and imparts more sweetness than the red, making it an ideal pairing for fish.

Koi served on the rocks. Koi is said to be very gamey in flavor, but the clean water and restricted diet is said to remove the intenseness. The flavor was indeed mild with excellent texture.

Shichida-san in front of Ogi City train station.
Thank you very much for your hospitality!!!

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