After putting Mum and Teddie in a taxi home, Super Sake Boy and I retraced our steps to Shu Kura, a very beautiful sake bar that we had been recommended by the lovely boy from C&D Gin Bar on one of our previous trips. A small, simple and modern bar, this place has a seriously good selection of sake. And… an English menu this time. Last time we had struggled with a very stylised menu, and our sake kanji was not nearly as proficient as it is now. Super Sake Boy immediately recognised a Tamagawa Junmai, a sake made by Philip Harper, who we fanboy/girl over, a bit. An English brewer who was the first non-Japanese toji (head brew master) in Japan. He makes seriously delicious sake and it is pretty difficult to find and very expensive in Australia.
This sake is a muroka nama genshu (unfiltered, unpasteurised and undiluted) and is 21% alcohol content. It is made in the yamahai method, with spontaneous fermentation and ambient yeast. Made with kita-nishiki rice, we were sake geeking out all over the place. This sake is rich, full of umami, full-bodied and highly acidic. Just the way we like it. A tokkuri (300ml) cost around $15.00. Our last Philip Harper tokkuri cost us $65.00. This is the tax in Australia and why we are forced to try to consume as much as we can while we are here.
Our excitement must have been obvious, as it attracted the attention of the man sitting next to me. He and his wife introduced themselves and are great sake lovers. They spoke some English, about the equivalent of our level of Japanese. We started a conversation that was very broken between the two languages, and they were so surprised at our level of knowledge and interest in sake. Japanese people are complimented by foreigners interest in their culture and we seriously love sake. I also spoke to them about my love of Japanese history, samurai battles and of the Tales of Genji. Fujimori-san, and his wife, then introduced Super Sake Boy and I to the sake they were drinking.
Every year sake breweries release some seasonal sake, that is usually reasonably limited. We don’t get any of this sake in Australia, and given we are at the beginning of summer here, there are many “natsu” namazake available. These are super fresh and delicious, and we were very generously offered two tokkuri’s of different sake to try. One was a Chokaisan from Tenjyu shuzo in Akita and the other we couldn’t find the brewery name, but the summer release is called Jellyfish and it is a GI Yamagata, which means the rice is grown locally in Yamagata. They were both delicious and we had so much fun talking sake with the Fujimoris. They wouldn’t let us pay, and by the end of the evening were offering to tour us around Kyoto one day. Super Sake Boy took his card, and we emailed and are meeting with them for lunch and sake on Sunday. Even our emails were bilingual.