Rousing shouts of 'kanpai!' reverberated throughout Kampachi during a recent sake dinner featuring master sake brewers: Toshio Taketsuru, Tomohito Ohata andNoriaki Harada, as well as sake sommelier Shigeyuki Masaki.
Our first taste of sake began with a welcome cocktail to stimulate the palate, building up our sense of anticipation.
Once the formalities were dispensed with, the sake masters proceeded to serve dainty cups of their treasured brews, sharing nuggets of informative facts and giving sake with food pairing suggestions throughout the dinner.
Taketsuru - the 14th generation owner whose family founded the famous Nikka distillery - proffered Taketsuru Junmai, Taketsuru Junmai Nigori and Taketsuru Omachi Junmai Sanmi Ittai on the evening.
It was fascinating to see the meticulous steps taken to ensure each sake was served at the correct temperature, to bring out the tipple's aroma and flavour. Complementary dishes were also placed on the side, to enable guests to savour the sakes with matching delicacies.
For instance, Taketsuru Junmai - a dry, creamy yellow sake with robust umami and nutty flavours goes best with marinated or simmered fish, sukiyaki and teppanyaki dishes. Creamier with a sharp acidity, try pairing the smooth Taketsuru Junmai Nigori with fatty fish while the distinctive appetite-whetting Taketsuru Omachi Junmai Sanmi Ittai can be enjoyed cold or hot, making it a great companion for deep-fried fish.
Tomohiko Ohata is the 4th generation owner of Fusozuru - his three sakes ranges from Fusozuru Junmai Nigori (creamy and complex with hint of dry sweetness from the sake lees) and the mellow Fusozuru Junmai (rich, tangy yet astringent) to Fusozuru Junmai Ginjo Sakanishiki (crisp and clean sweetness served cold; wheaty and elegant when warm).
Specialities to accompany Furozuru sakes include temaki and makimono (Junmai Nigori), chawan mushi (Junmai) and sashimi, carpaccio and salad (Junmai Ginjo Sakanishiki).
Noriaki Harada, President of Asahigiku also showcased three of his labels: Asahigiku Ayaka, Asahigiku Daichi and Asahigiku Junmai Ginjo Rei.
Unagi, white fish and tomato cream stew are some suggested dishes to go with the mild, fruity Ayaka while grilled fish and simmered fare will find affinity with Daichi since this sake evokes faint umami nuance. For the soft sophistication of Junmai Ginjo Rei, pair it with light appetisers and salads.