Kyoto Honke Owariya Soba 京都本家尾張屋

Kyoto Owariya Tempura Soba

Kyoto Owariya Vegetable Tempura Soba

Owariya is a Kyoto soba shop with a rich history, that can be traced back hundreds of years. I love the branch in Takashimaya as it is near many popular sites such as Nishiki Market and Gion. As the shop is in a department store, it is also kid-friendly.

The vegetable tempura soba (1620 JPY) included sansai, spring vegetables, and the dark red Kyoto carrot. We ordered a kake soba (756 JPY), soba with hot broth, and topped it with fish cakes.

Kyoto Owariya Kake Soba

Kyoto Owariya Kake Soba

Owariya is on the 7th floor of Takashimaya.

Owariya’s website includes photos and an English menu:

http://honke-owariya.co.jp/en/menu/foods/

If you like shōchū, you should definitely try the soba shochu served with soba-yū, the hot water that the soba is cooked in.

Honke Owariya at Kyoto Takashimaya

Kyoto-shi, Shimogyō-ku, Teiammaenocho 52, Kyoto Takashimaya 7th Floor

京都市下京区貞安前之町52

Kyoto Takashimaya Access:

http://www.takashimaya.co.jp/kyoto/store_information/access.html

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Tokyo Food Guide

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photo by Olen Peterson

We can demystify Tsukiji Market, the world’s largest seafood market,

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and introduce you to a new sushi neta, like kinmedai (splendid alfonsino) that is pink, slightly sweet, and is succulent.

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Introduce you to a wide variety of Japanese pickles.

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Lead you to a special bar where cocktails are made with seasonal fruit and vegetables,

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or to a bar serving craft beer and sweet potato chips.

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Explore the unique izakaya culture from smoky grilled meat joints
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to saké specialty restaurants and discover the subtle nuances of saké through flights of saké,

shochu

or through the native distilled spirit, shōchū. Yukari was the first non-Japanese to pass the shōchū advisor exam.

DSCN5688Explore street food on the side streets of Tokyo,
depachika sugar grapesphoto by Nancy Matsumoto

or to my old stomping grounds, Takashimaya depachika, to discover sugar-coated muscat grapes and

depachika sashimi matsumoto

photo by Nancy Matsumoto

seasonal sashimi.

Food Sake Tokyo guides are a chef and Japanese fishmonger. We are Tokyo’s food guides. Please contact us here for more information on our market tours.

Bettako Shochu Izakaya in Ikebukuro

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When going out to izakaya I always take some ヘパリーゼ Hepalize to prevent a hangover the next morning. Usually in the tablet form. But, today I forgot to bring some Hepalize pills with me from home so stopped by a convenience store and picked up this liquid form. It worked like a charm. We had lots of shōchū, but feeling great the next morning.

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ポテトサラダ Potato salad is a very popular dish at izakaya. It is often made with copious amounts of mayonnaise, boiled carrots, and sliced ham. But this version was very different. I couldn’t sense any mayonnaise. Instead, it was loosened up with possibly some dash and mixed with some sautéed onions that gave it a bit of sweetness. And, there were crunchy pieces of fried onions, reminding me of the French’s fried onions found on top of the green beans and cream of mushroom dish we often see at Thanksgiving.

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Bettako is an izakaya that specializes in shōchū. Shōchū is the distilled spirit, native to Japan, that is made with a variety of base ingredients. The good stuff, honkaku shōchū, is only distilled once. As a result, it maintains the aroma and flavor of the base ingredient, like sweet potatoes or barley. It is also usually only about 25 degrees in alcohol, and is often watered down, bringing it down to about 15 degrees. So, it’s similar to what you’ll find in a glass of wine. Shōchū is very food friendly, and can be served hot or cold.

Bettako is unique that most of the shōchū here is served maewariMaewari is where the shochu is watered down ahead of time, usually 24 hours or so ahead of time. It’s a great method that allows for the shōchū to mellow out and makes it much softer on the palate. I trained as a “shōchū advisor” and have studied this in class, but rarely do you come across a restaurant that actually serves it like this in Tokyo. I am sure in the Kyushu region, where shochu is the prominent drink, that it is much more available. The maewari shōchū was a revelation. Much softer and gentle on the palate. I will start doing this at home. Simply add water to the shōchū to taste, usually about 6 parts water to 4 parts shōchū, but it’s up to you. Also keep in mind if you will be serving it on the rocks as it will dilute even more.

The first shōchū of the evening is Ichiban Shizuku, a sweet potato shōchū (imo jōchūfrom Kagoshima. It is surprisingly smooth and ever so sweet from the sweet potatoes. Even those in the party who were not big shōchū drinkers found it palatable. The magic of maewari.

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馬刺 Basic, horse sashimi, is a specialty of Kumamoto prefecture. Kumamoto is also famous for shōchū. The lean meat is meaty and chewy. It is served with some sliced onions and grated garlic. It’s garnished with fresh sanshō berries, which make your tongue tingle. Best of all, it is served with soy sauce from Kagoshima. The soy sauce in Kyushu is very sweet. Kyushu is where both Kumamoto and Kagoshima is.

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牛タン Gyutan, beef tongue, is simply seasoned with salt and pepper and grilled. On the left side is the back part of the tongue and on the right is the front of the tongue. At Bettako it is served with some kabosu (a tart citrus) that is squeezed over the meat. The back of the tongue was softer than the meaty front part.

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The second shochu was a barley (mugi jōchū) Gojinka Tenjo. It is from Oshima, a small island south of Tokyo, that is actually a part of Tokyo. Very different from the sweet potato shōchūit has tones that are similar to whisky, drier and a bit more of an attack on the palate.

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The sashimi course today is hamachi yellowtail. It’s a great presentation as the chef serves both the back (far left) and the belly (far right). As can be expected, the belly is a bit more fattier and richer. The chopped hamachi in front was simply seasoned with some sesame seeds and thinly sliced Japanese leeks.

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Jun Kuro (pure black) Satsuma no Kaori (aroma of sweet potatoes) shōchū was next. I really love these sweet potato shōchū. Sweet potato shōchū usually goes very well with seafood, which many izakaya dishes are made out of.

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The shōchū was served in a jyōka. Is this not the greatest pot you’ve ever seen for serving? A spout on both sides. Our friend, Mizutani-san, who is a food editor and who has an amazing depth of knowledge, says that this vessel makes it easy for anyone to pour from. So, no matter which side of the table you are sitting on, you could pick up the jyōka and serve from it. You gotta love the person who thought of this design. Brilliant.

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Tsubugai (whelk) is a shellfish with a rich texture. Here it is served as sashimi with some grated daikon, myōga, and green onions. One of the chefs at our table pointed this dish and said, “atarimae“. While outside of Japan, this would be a dish you may come across at a fine-dining establishment, in Japan it goest without saying, such delicious food like this would be found in an izakaya like this.

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The interior of the restaurant is filled with old posters. It feels a bit like stepping back in time, except for the occasional rugby poster.Image

Interior shot. Look at how little room there is behind the counter seats to exit the restaurant. You could never get away with this in New York City.

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Offal soup, a perfect way to start to wrap up the evening.
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My favorite dish of the night was this pork sauteed with fresh kikuragé (wood ear) mushrooms, okahijiki – literally “hijiki of the hills” which adds a great texture, leeks, rayu chili oil and a bit of salt. Most of the time we only find dried kikuragé mushrooms in the market. The fresh kikuragé are in season at the moment. The contrast of the different textures, the bit of spiciness, and the umami from the pork brought this dish together. Image

Here is shōchū with soy milk. I’ve tried this in the past and liked it when the soy milk was paired with a sesame shōchū. Tonight it was a sweet potato shōchū.

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Finally, Gyokurō, a sweet potato shōchū made with white kōji,  which makes it a light and delicate shōchū. A great shōchū to end the evening on.

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Here is part of our group posing with the owner, Kanemoto-san. Kanemoto-san is famous in Tokyo for his selection of shōchū and for his great izakaya, Bettako. Kanemoto-san is also a big rugby fan which explains the rugby posters on the wall.ImageThe rest of our gang outside of Bettako. Bettako is a short walk from the station. It’s very popular so reservations are recommended.

Shōchūya BETTAKO

Toshima-ku, Higashi-Ikebukuro 1-42-17, Hasegawa Building

03-3987-7982

closed Sunday

 

Food Sake Tokyo Tours

Food Sake Tokyo

Food Sake Tokyo conducts private guided field trips to Tokyo’s popular food destinations that is led by food professionals. Yukari Sakamoto is a chef, sommelier, shōchū advisor, and author of Food Sake Tokyo. Shinji Sakamoto is a fishmonger and former buyer at Tsukiji Market. Popular topics include market visits, saké or shōchū tastings, or shopping at local supermarkets. The customized tours are suited to your needs and include itinerary planning for your trip.

From time to time we will offer guided field trips that are open to the general public. These will be posted on this blog.

What makes Food Sake Tokyo different from other food tour companies is that we are food professionals ourselves. We offer a unique insight to the food culture of Japan. Many of our clients are professional chefs, restaurateurs, beverage specialists, food retailers, and food journalists.

Other services we provide include:

  • Tokyo food tours led by a chef, sommelier, shōchū advisor, and a Japanese fishmonger.
  • Interpreting from Japanese to English for food related events, market tours, cookbooks, websites.
  • Interpreting services for English speaking food professionals (retail and restaurants) visiting Japan.
  • Depachika tours that deconstruct the massive food halls by Yukari, a former employee of one of Tokyo’s most famous depachika.
  • Supermarket tours to learn about Japanese ingredients.
  • Fixer for food and saké travel programs and interpreting services for food and beverage journalists.
  • Organize business trips to Japan for food professionals.
  • Shinji does private tours of Tsukiji Market.
  • Learn about seasonal Japanese seafood by dining together with Shinji at a sushi restaurant.
  • Shinji does sashimi classes in client’s homes (we are currently looking for a kitchen).
  • Shinji does supermarket tours focusing on the seafood section introducing not only fresh, seasonal seafood, but also frozen, canned, dried, and other products unique to Japan.
  • Shinji does consulting for Japanese seafood companies looking to expand overseas.
  • Private catering of seafood dishes paired with saké or shōchū.
Tsukiji Tour
Tsukiji Tour

Tsukiji Tour photo by Jun Takagi from Budget Travel

Praise of our tours:

Travel & Leisure: World’s Greatest Tour Guides

Budget Travel

Rick Bayless

” I can’t thank you enough – I wish I had done this 4 months ago!” regarding supermarket tour – AK, Kamakura

“Shinji is terrific, patient, knowledgeable and wonderful. There wasn’t a question that he could not answer.” – JS, California

“We love the sushi lunch as well and thought that the explanations and pictures of the different seafood were extremely helpful. For the first time in our life, we could at least visualize the seafood we were eating. Shinji’s insightful knowledge of seafood brought the tour of Tsujiki Market alive.” TK, Singapore

“Your knowledge shines through and your friendly and professional manner to your guests and the shopkeepers alike puts everyone at ease.” WL, Sydney

“Wanted to thank you again for such an awesome tour! It was really a highlight of our vacation.” CM, United States of America

“…especially to Shinji for a very enjoyable and informative tour of Tsukiji and environs, and a delicious sushi lunch. Our morning visit was one of the real highlights of our time in Japan!” BH, United States of America

“After reading the wonderfully informative and gorgeously illustrated “Food Sake Tokyo,” I knew I had to take a food tour with Yukari Sakamoto.  During a two-hour guided stroll through the depachika in Takashimaya’s flagship store, I learned more than I could have ever imagined about Japanese food, history and culture.  Of all the experiences I managed to squeeze in during my first trip to Japan, my tour with Yukari was easily the best.”  EL, New York

“Shinji was a wonderful guide–informative, friendly, and full of enthusiasm for the market.  We felt that we gained a real understanding of the market itself and learned about some products we can use in our own cooking at home–just what we wanted.” SK, New York City

Praise for Food Sake Tokyo:

“I just returned from my first trip to Japan with my family and friends of ours. My wife bought your book, and we loved it so much that we bought a copy for the family with whom we traveled (they are both food-industry veterans). The 8 of us (4 adults, 4 kids) were found all over Tokyo, huddled up with our two copies of your book in hand.” JS, United States of America

Yukari & Shinji

Born in Tokyo and raised on the shores of Lake Wobegon, Yukari Sakamoto trained as a chef and baker at the French Culinary Institute. Following that she trained as a sommelier at The American Sommelier Association and worked as a sommelier at the New York Bar and Grill in the Park Hyatt Tokyo. She also worked at Takashimaya’s flagship store in Nihonbashi as a sommelier in the saké department of the depachika. While at Takashimaya she passed the exam to be a shōchū advisor. Shōchū is a distilled spirit native to Japan. Yukari apprenticed at Coco Farm and Winery in Ashikaga, Tochigi.  Yukari also offers market tours with Elizabeth Andoh’s Taste of Culture.

Shinji photo

Yukari is married to Shinji Sakamoto, a former buyer at Tsukiji Market. Shinji has ten years’ retail experience in Japan selling seasonal seafood directly to customers. He would make cooking recommendations and cut up seasonal fish as the customer needed. He also has three years’ experience selling seasonal Japanese seafood and frozen seafood in both New York City and Singapore.

Yukari’s first book, Food Sake Tokyo, is published by The Little Bookroom as a part of the Terroir Guides. It is a food lover’s guide to Japanese food and beverages and introduces restaurants and food shops in Tokyo. There is also a chapter on Kyoto’s Nishiki Market. The first half of the book focuses on the food and beverages of Japan. The second half selects some of Tokyo’s popular destinations by station and suggests shops not to be missed in that area.

Any changes to information in Food Sake Tokyo, that I am aware of, will be posted on this blog. Please search under “updates” for the most recent PDF that you can print out.

Our other blog focuses on cooking Japanese food at home.

I am represented by Lisa Ekus.

Yukari’s twitter account

We can be reached at yukari dot shinji dot sakamoto at gmail dot com.

GENERAL CANCELLATION POLICY: Should Food Sake Tokyo need to cancel any or all segments of a program, every effort will be made to re-schedule sessions at a mutually convenient time. If that is not possible, a full refund will be made promptly for sessions canceled by Food Sake Tokyo.

If an individual or group is unable to attend a Food Sake Tokyo program for which they have already enrolled, that person or group may designate a substitute for him/her/them. No additional fees are charged to the participant (substitute attendee). Any financial arrangements made between the original participant and his/her/their substitute is at the discretion of the person originally enrolled. All requests to have a substitute attend a program, however, must be received by phone or e-mail at least 24 hours prior to the scheduled class meeting. When making such a request, please provide the full name and (local, Tokyo) contact phone number and e-mail address of each person who will be taking the place of the originally enrolled individual or group.

LIMITATIONS on LIABILITY: Every possible precaution is taken to ensure your personal safety and the safety of those in your group. However, registration for, and attendance at, all programs is subject to the following condition: the director and staff of Food Sake Tokyo, are released from, and specifically disclaim, all responsibilities for injuries or illness incurred traveling to and from sessions, during sessions, or resulting from food prepared at, or according to recipes distributed during, cooking & tasting sessions, market tours or other field trips, including restaurant meals.

NOTE: Tuition fees for cooking workshops, market tours, and other field trips conducted by Food Sake Tokyo do NOT INCLUDE food & beverage not specifically mentioned in the program description. Tuition does NOT include the cost of local transportation. Any purchases made by participants during class, market tours or field trips are at the discretion of each participant. Participants in all programs are responsible for making arrangements for, and making payment for, their airfare, lodgings, and transportation to/from/within Japan. Participants are also responsible for obtaining and paying for any travel/trip/health insurance coverage they would like to have.

Shochu – Mitake Imo Jochu 三岳芋焼酎

Mitake 1

Mitake first came on my shochu radar when I was working at Nihonbashi Takashimaya in the saké department. One large bottle (1800 ml) was sitting in the storeroom as a customer had special ordered it. It wasn’t a shochu that we normally carried. I asked one of my colleagues about it and she told me that it was a premium shochu. Premium is tricky in Japan. In this case, it is a popular shochu that is available in limited amounts, creating a premium price for it.

Fast forward about ten years later and you can imagine how thrilled I was to see Mitake being sold in our local department store saké department as part of a fukubukuro, the lucky grab bags that are sold on January 2nd at major department stores.

Mitake 2

Can you see the beautiful imagery of Yakushima island on the label?

Mitake is made on Yakushima island, a UNESCO designated World Heritage Site for its rich flora and ancient sugi (Japanese cedar trees). Yakushima island is also famous for its delicious water, essential in making Mitake sweet potato shochu. In the shochu making process after it is distilled it is often diluted with water to lower the alcohol percentage. Some on Yakushima will tell you that the local water has umami, hence the Mitake shochu also has umami.

Mitake 3

On the upper left corner there is a circle with what looks like three red E’s in it. This symbol is important as it recognizes that all of the sweet potatoes used in making Mitake shochu comes from sweet potatoes that were grown and harvested in Kagoshima prefecture. Apparently some shochu distillers are using imported sweet potatoes from overseas.

The red characters reading down is honkaku shochu 本格焼酎, or single distilled shochu. If you are drinking any shochu, it should be honkaku shochu. The other style, distilled several times, is better for making umeshu or other sweet shochu that is steeped with fruit like yuzu, lemons, or even coffee beans.

Mitake 4

 On the right side of the label there are two other important kanji to take note of.
 屋久島産  Yakushima-san or from Yakushima island
 薩摩焼酎 Satsuma Shochu or shochu from Kagoshima
Much like D.O.C. in wine, there are four regional types of shochu that can be labeled as such:
 薩摩焼酎 Satsuma Shochu from Kagoshima (made from sweet potatoes)
球磨焼酎  Kuma Jochu from Kumamoto (made from Japanese rice)
琉球泡盛  Ryukyu Awamori from Okinawa (made from Thai rice)
壱岐焼酎  Iki Shochu from Nagasaki (made from barley)

On the nose, Mitake has a sweet aroma, somewhat like sweet potatoes. It isn’t funky like some sweet potato shochu can be, but more on the mild side. On the palate it is slightly sweet, somewhat like steamed sweet potatoes. It’s slightly dry with a bit of umami on the palate. Overall a mild and easy drinking shochu. I liked it with hot water (oyu wari) but that is because it’s cold this time of year. It is also very nice on the rocks or as mizuwari (mixed with water).

If you ever come across a bottle of Mitake be sure to pick it up.

Mitake Shuzo started in Showa 33 (1958) and is currently a 2nd generation shochu distillery.

三岳 Mitake

芋焼酎 imo jochu (sweet potato shochu)

麹:米麹(白麹) shiro kome koji

原料:コガネセンガン base ingredient: koganesengan sweet potato

900 ml

25 degrees alcohol (Mitake also makes a shochu with the same label that is 35 degrees, so double check when purchasing)

Kagoshima-ken, Kumage-gun, Yakucho Awa 2625-19

鹿児島県熊毛郡屋久町安房2625番地19

TEL 0997-46-2026

 

You may like these other blog posts on shochu.

Towari Soba Shochu 十割蕎麦焼酎

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Part of the beauty of shochu is that it is made from a variety of base ingredients. While sweet potato (imo) and barley (mugi) are very popular, it is worth exploring the others, such as buckwheat (soba). This Towari is rich and intense. The aroma of buckwheat is undeniable. This comes from the unique koji that is also made with buckwheat.

Towari is made in Miyazaki prefecture. It is 25% alcohol. The shochu can be had any way, straight, on the rocks, or with hot water.

The perfect food pairing is with soba noodles. As it is a rich shochu, I also like it with richer foods such as deep-fried dishes or well seasoned dishes such as a miso marinated fish.

Jougo Kokuto Shochu じょうご黒糖焼酎

Jougo Kokuto Shochu

Jougo Kokuto Shochu

Another good shochu to start with for shochu novices is a kokuto shochu which is made from sugar cane. It’s inherent sweetness is soft on the palate. This is from Amami Oshima south of Kagoshima.

Koji: shiro (white) koji – making it a light, delicate shochu

alcohol: 25%

suggested drinking method: on the rocks

distillation: otsurui (single distillation) honkaku shochu

distillery: Amami Oshima Shuzo

Antenna Shops in Ginza

updated 25 September 2017

If you are looking for jizake or shochu from a small producer or an artisanal miso the first place to check out are the antenna shops. Markets that specialize in regional products, usually from a specific prefecture. The Okinawa antenna shop in Ginza has a huge selection of awamori and the Miyazaki antenna shop in Shinjuku brings in a limited amount of premium shochu on the first of each month. Seafood, meat, and fresh produce as well are often sold. Some of the shops will have a restaurant or an eat-in corner. The Yamagata antenna shop has a branch of it’s famous Italian restaurant using Yamagata products.

Here is a list of antenna shops in Ginza, the area with the most number of shops. Here is a list of antenna shops in Nihonbashi.

Osaka Hyakkaten

Over 600 items and an eat-in corner with takoyaki and butaman.

Chiyoda-ku, Yurakucho 2-10-1, Tokyo Kotsu Kaikan 1F

03-5220-1333

10:00 – 22:00

Tokushima and Kagawa Tomoni Ichiba

Sanuki udon, somen, Tokushima ramen, sudachi, jizake, and more.

Chiyoda-ku, Yurakucho 2-10-1, Tokyo Kotsu Kaikan 1F

03-6269-9688

10:30 – 19:30

Hyogo Waku Waku Kan

Tako no kamaage, oden packs, Higashimaru udon, vegetables, and more.

Chiyoda-ku, Yurakucho 2-10-1, Tokyo Kotsu Kaikan B1

03-6273-4133

10:00 – 19:00

Iki Iki Toyama Kan

Over 800 items including masu sushi.

Chiyoda-ku, Yurakucho 2-10-1, Tokyo Kotsu Kaikan B1

03-3231-5032

10:00 – 19:00

Wakayama Kishukan

Over 50 types of umeboshi, jizake, and fruit.

Chiyoda-ku, Yurakucho 2-10-1, Tokyo Kotsu Kaikan B1

03-3216-1615

10:00 – 19:00

Iwate Ginka Plaza

Over 1,500 items, including a Koiwa soft cream corner.

Chuo-ku, Ginza 5-15-1, Nankai Tokyo Bldg. 1F

03-3254-8282

10:30 – 19:00

Gunma-chan Chi

Produce, sweets, and jizake with an event space on the 2nd floor.

Chuo-ku, Ginza 5-13-19, Duplex Ginza Tower 5/13

03-3546-8511

10:00 – 19:00

Oishii Yamagata Plaza

Jizake, fruits, vegetables, and an Italian restaurant incorporating Yamagata’s produce by star chef Masayuki Okuda at San Dan Delo.

Chuo-ku, Ginza 1-5-10, Ginza First Five Bldg.

03-5250-1752

10:00 – 20:00

Hiroshima Setouchi Tau

Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki sauce, popular momiji maple leaf sweet buns, oysters (frozen or in oil), Yukari red shiso furikake and two eat-in restaurants. 2nd floor for Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki and 1st floor for shiru-nashi ramen, a style popular in Hiroshima and harder to find in Tokyo.

Chuo-ku, Ginza 1-6-10

03-5579-9952

Kagoshima Yurakukan

A large selection of shochu, restaurant, and much more.

Chiyoda-ku, Yurakucho 1-6-4, Chiyoda Bldg. 1-3F

03-3580-8821

hours vary

Tottori Plaza

Rakkyo, nagaimo, seafood, Italian restaurant featuring Tottori products, and more than 1,500 items.

Minato-ku, Shinbashi 2-19-4 SNT Bldg.

03-5537-0575

10:00 – 21:00

Ginza Kumamoto Kan

Fruits and vegetable, seafood products, and more than 1,000 items. ASOBI Bar on the 2nd floor featuring Kumamoto shochu, basashi (horsemeat sashimi), and karashi renkon.

Chuo-ku, Ginza 5-3-16

03-3572-1261

11:00 – 20:00

ASOBI Bar 17:00 – 20:00

Marugoto Kochi

Sweets, jizake, and a restaurant on the 2nd floor.

Chuo-ku, Ginza 1-3-13, Ri-burekkusu Tower

03-3538-4351

hours vary

Okinawa Ginza Washita Shop

An impressive selection of awamori in the basement and fresh produce such as go-ya.

Chuo-ku, Ginza 1-3-9, Maruito Ginza Bldg.

03-3535-6991

10:30 – 20:00

Shochu 焼酎 – Futan 風憚

Fuutan

Fuutan

My favorite type of shochu is an imojochu, or sweet potato shochu. It comes in a wide variety of aromas and flavors. Some can be really funky and others very smooth. Fuutan is on the easy-drinking and light side. This is a great starter shochu if you are interested in sweet potato shochu but are not too adventurous. Fuutan can be had on the rocks or with hot water (oyuwari), so a good shochu to have anytime of the year.

What makes Fuutan unique is that it uses a sweet potato called kurikogane. Most sweet potato shochu is made from a variety called koganesengan. Kurikogane is a unique sweet potato, not often found.

Fuutan

25 degrees alcohol

base ingredient – kurikogane sweet potato

koji – kuro koji (black koji)

Fuutan Genshu

Fuutan Genshu

Fuutan Genshu is the undiluted version (most shochu is diluted with water to bring the alcohol down). At 36 degrees it is on the high side for shochu. I don’t come across this as often and would have this one on the rocks. If shopping for this, look for the kanji for genshu on the label. 原酒

Fuutan also ages a small amount of bottles, either three or five years. I haven’t had the pleasure of trying these, but typically as time passes the shochu becomes softer and more gentle on the palate. These bottles are numbered on the label.

Fuutan is made by Fukiage Shochu in Minami Satsuma, Kagoshima.

Shochu 焼酎 – Shiro しろ

Shiro

Shiro

Perhaps the most asked question I have is what is a good shochu to start with for those who are new to shochu. A rice based shochu is a good place to start as it is usually light, easy-drinking, and clean, much like rice. A good brand to start with is Hakutake Shiro, referred to simply as Shiro. It is made with shiro koji, a white koji, that produces delicate shochu.

Kumamoto prefecture is famous for its kome jochu (rice shochu).

Shiro しろ

Made in Kumamoto

Made by Takahashi Shuzo

Kome (rice) shochu

25% alcohol

Otsurui

Shiro is great on the rocks, or in the winter I like it with hot water. It is also an excellent mixer for cocktails. Mix it with fresh juice.