Sake Pairing Taken to a New Level

Sake Pairing Taken to a New Level


A faint light in a back alley of Kagurazaka leads you to Fushikino. Many people, regardless of their nationality, visit this restaurant which has been awarded a Michelin star and is known for its impeccable cuisine and hospitality. 

At Fushikino, one can experience food and sake pairings. Mr. Yusuke Miyashita, the owner of the restaurant, is not only a licensed sake sommelier (kikisakeshi) and sake craftsman (sakasho) but is also well-versed in tea ceremony. “If we had a restaurant like this in Kyoto where people respect the traditional way, it would soon close down. It is only because we are in Tokyo that we can try new things and receive such praise and keep going,” says Mr. Miyashita.

The lineup of sake selected by the licensed sake sommelier and sake craftsman compliments the cuisine and satisfies many of his guests. As a sakasho and kikisakeshi, Mr. Miyashita is not only expected to know what type of sake goes with certain dishes but what type of sake is best suited to a particular crowd or atmosphere. Vast knowledge of how sake is made, how it tastes and how to store it is required. Moreover, the taste of sake changes depending on what cup is being used. Fushikino has a large variety of cups, many of which are valuable works that are hundreds of years old. Fushikino has innovative ways for you to enjoy sake that you can’t at other restaurants such as sake mixes, sake and rose water, etc.

Fushikino is a place where the owner, who is extremely knowledgable in everything about sake and the spirit of tea ceremony, will warmly welcome you. The food and sake pairings served here are all omakase, or chef’s selection, and Mr. Miyashita has absolute confidence in his cuisine and sake selections. How about experiencing great pairings of sake and dishes that are not available anywhere else? 

 

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Kinsaryori: Edo Period and Tea Ceremony Cuisine

Kinsaryori: Edo Period and Tea Ceremony Cuisine


On a corner in Akasaka, Tokyo, stands a modern building. If you were to walk by it, you probably wouldn’t realize that it is a cooking school. Kazunari Yanagihara, the President of Yanagihara Cooking School, is the son of Toshio Yanagihara, a predecessor of the Kinsaryu school of kaiseki cuisine that dates back to the Edo period. Mr. Yanagihara, along with his son, Naoyuki, who is Vice President of the school, studies and teaches Japanese cooking and tea kaiseki daily. 

Edo kaiseki Kinsaryu is called “Kinsaryori” and is said to have started around the Edo period. At the height of the Edo period, many cooking techniques were honed and passed down. Kinsaryu is a way of cooking for the tea ceremony. In addition to knife handling, attention to ingredients based on the season, and the presentation of the food, this school of cooking values the handling of the dishes and the manner in which they are served.

One of the feature classes at the school is the “dashi” cooking class. Naoyuki Yanagihara leads this class in English and shares with his students his knowledge and techniques regarding dashi such as the differences in the taste and aroma of the kelp depending on where it comes from and how to make katsuo shavings. 

At the end of the class, you will be able to sample the dashi and probably be surprised by its delicate taste. This is a class that you should take in order to learn the depth of dashi which is the essence of Japanese cuisine. Of course, if you wish, you may also request classes for other types of cooking.

 

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In Tune with Nature and Universe

In Tune with Nature and Universe


Japan has a time-honored style of vegetarian/vegan-centric cooking known as Shojin-ryori. It is based on the Buddhist belief of non-violence to all living things, so meat and fish are not used. Also, vegetables such as green onions, garlic and ginger are not used as their strong odor is believed to cause negative states of mind. Shojin-ryori is divided into two types: the first type was created for Buddhist monks training at temples, and the second type was created for entertaining the writers and artists visiting the temples.

Daigo is a Michelin 2-star restaurant in Tokyo. It is run by the young, fourth generation restaurateur Mr. Yusuke Nomura, who is constantly taking on new challenges despite inheriting a restaurant with a long-standing tradition. Using his knowledge gained from training in the world of French cooking, he implements Western food presentation and always has over 100 wines on hand.

He demonstrates flexibility and ideas that are not bound by the conventions of Japanese cooking. The dishes Mr. Nomura prepares in accordance with the season are all fresh and beautiful. Even though his dishes are low in sodium, there is fullness of flavor and you will not be left unsatisfied.

Daigo is a reservations-only restaurant with all tables in their own rooms. Each room faces the Japanese garden from which you can enjoy the seasonal views. You will not believe that you are the center of the Tokyo metropolis close to Tokyo Tower. It is like a quiet retreat where you can relax. We hope you will enjoy the traditional yet uniquely Tokyo vegetarian cuisine.

 

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A Modern Twist to Edo-style Sushi

A Modern Twist to Edo-style Sushi


In a quiet residential area in Oomori Kaigan stands a sukiya-zukuri Japanese house. (Sukiya-zukuri are houses influenced by tea house architecture).

Matsunozushi started in 1910 as a sushi street stall in the Shibashinmei area of Tokyo. The second generation owner of Matsunozushi moved it to Oomori Kaigan. As a young child, the fourth generation and current owner-chef, Mr. Yoshi Tezuka, accompanied his father to purchase fish. He learned how to expertly choose fish and once he started school he began learning how to properly use a knife. On a mission to convey sushi culture to the world and to learn about different cultures and hospitality, he spent four years as a professional ski guide in Europe and North America. Yoshi takes advantage of his cross-cultural communication skills by serving guests from all over the world on a daily basis.

One of the special items on the menu is the Omakase Course with an English explanation for overseas guests. This is a tailor-made course for guests that can accommodate religious or lifestyle dietary restrictions. Also, while serving guests, the fourth generation chef-owner, Yoshi, will provide an explanation in English about the history and culture of sushi and differences in the areas where the fish comes from. Matsunozushi can make possible such a special course because of the owner’s strong commitment to not just giving his guests a meal but having them learn about and enjoy Japanese food.

Matsunozushi, through which Edo (former name of Tokyo) restaurant culture and Edo-style sushi has been passed down over the years, will continue to deliver its message to the world through its sushi.

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Shaping Traditions by Hand _ Kyo-Wagashi

Shaping Traditions by Hand_Kyo-Wagashi


In a classic tea ceremony, the softening influence of wagashi, or Japanese traditional sweets, accompanies every beautiful bowl of rich green tea. The gentle sweetness of traditional wagashi deliciously contrasts the bitterness of the tea, and their shapes and colors suggest the season, bringing tea guests into the joy of the present moment.

Kyo-wagashi are Kyoto-style wagashi, arguably the subtlest and most alluring of all wagashi. The head at the renowned Oimatsu school of confectionary in Kyoto, and internationally recognized master, Toru Ota, offers private classes in the basics of Kyo-wagashi, on the grounds of the elegant Yuuhisai Koudoukan.

The Yuuhisai Koudoukan, a lovingly protected 1806 wooden estate built on lands that were formerly part of Kyoto’s Imperial Palace, is the perfect setting for Ota’s lesson. Tatami floors, moss gardens, and tea rooms provide a gorgeously fitting backdrop for this dive into a traditional hands-on experience.

Ota teaches by example, and has his students in thrall with the deceptively simple maneuvers of his hands. Taking a perfect ball of sweet bean paste, he swiftly coats it in a tinted rice-based dough. That’s complicated enough, but it is just the start. From there, employing little more than a simple wooden stick, he coaxes out myriad petals of a chrysanthemum, the large loose shape of an iris, or the fat round pillow of a camellia blossom.

Ota’s examples look easy, and like all true traditional artisans, he teaches by example, not by doing it all for you. Paying attention, and remembering your childhood modeling clay days, will help you produce amazing flowers that resemble Ota’s. What makes Ota stand out from many instructors, though, is his embracing attitude toward the off-beat, the creative, and the new. If your flowers look different, that’s just fine. This hands-on experience is a tactile pleasure, and completed sweets can either be consumed immediately, or staff will package them up to be carried back to the hotel.

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