Tanuki Pop-Up with Melbourne Sake

Two glasses of sake sitting alongside a sake menu at Tanuki Pop Up in Melbourne.

Spending time with a bunch of like-minded people is always lots of fun. Especially when your shared passion is Japan in general and sake in particular. Sitting with a lovely group of people talking sake, in a room full of people who love sake, being plied with sake by a couple of guys who really, really love sake so much they have decided to make sake here in Melbourne is next level sake-ception. Melbourne Sake’s Tanuki Pop-Up event ran for three weekends and we attended the very first Friday night. It was really so much fun. We went along with our sake sage, the Sake Mistress Simone, her lovely husband Simon, Ed and Erica who we had studied with for the sake sommelier qualification, and the delightful Kerrie-Anne, who we worked with at Sake Matsuri and all of whom we have sat in many online Taste with the Toji events over the past year.

The pop-up was the excellent idea from the boys at Melbourne Sake, Matt Kingsley Shaw and Quentin Hanley. These boys are in the process of brewing sake right here in Melbourne. To say we are looking forward to having a local brew is an understatement and we are very excited for the launch. Both having previously worked for the “Grossi” family, Melbourne hospitality royalty, Matt and Quentin collaborated with Arlechin, a very funky Grossi laneway bar, to offer an exceptional opportunity of tasting and food pairing, with some unlikely sake companions.

I have to say when we saw the sake list we were somewhat starstruck. It was, most certainly, the best sake list I have ever seen in a bar outside Japan. Super Sake Boy and I agreed it was like the list had been pulled by osmosis from our brains and there was little we could have done to perfect it further. The food was super, super yummy. We started with mortadella croquettes, that were deliciously cheesy and so tasty. This was followed by Wagyu beef carpaccio with edamame, lemon and soy. Kingfish crudo with yuzu, Giardiniera pickles, and a cotoletta sando with slaw. Finally, an amazing taglierini with the richest and most amazing Wagyu Bolognese sauce. I ate this homemade pasta and enjoyed every morsel, despite being unable to eat wheat, and completely prepared to pay the physical price, deeming this particular dish definitely worth it! An excellent example of Italian/Japanese fusion that worked so well with the sake.

The sake itself was spectacular. Super Sake Boy and I ordered different things, so as to have more tasting opportunity. To be honest, we had tried nearly all of them previously, but many sit in our top 10 and we were so happy to see them all in one place. I started with a Kidoizumi Yamahai Sparkling Nigori. As spritzy and delicious as it sounds. Super Sake Boy started with a Akashika Pressed Moto. We continued with some Tamagawa, Mukai Shuzo, Gozenshu, Zenkuro , Moriki Shuzo and then enjoyed the amazing Akishika Aged Moto, gifted by the Melbourne Sake Boys to Simone, as it was her birthday. Just when we thought things couldn’t get any enjoyable, we were given a very sneaky, early taste of the first sake made by Melbourne Sake. Well…not the first. Apparently the first time they made sake the starter turned pink?

Melbourne Sake hope to launch their sake later this year. On first tasting it was very delicious and became more so as it came up to room temperature. There was complexity and acidity and I look forward to seeing what a little more time does to this very anticipated local drop. I imagine that this brewery will experience much success and can’t wait until we can support them by drinking lots of delicious and local sake.

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