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Junior Sake Samurai Find Their Regular Izakaya

The Official Sake Samurai title went to our sake friend Tim at Urbansake for all his much appreciated devotion to sake and culture. When he was in the ancient capital, Kyoto, did he have any idea that a band of junior samurai from the wild-wild-east, the infamous Tokyo Sake Meetup group, would be running around to be trained in the mysteries and find the deeper spiritual meaning of sake? Top samurai and a bunch of apprentices – does this make Tim our Shogun?

sake samurai

The Sake Samurai event at Sake Plaza in Tokyo on October 26th was like a battlefield where the group had to plan strategic maneuvers around phalanxes of sake bottles which ranked over more than 300. Most warriors were new to this type of tasting, but they were armed with the holy scripts from Melinda, Valerie and Tim. After a quick overview of where everything was and how to go about sampling sake from a cup using an eye dropper, everyone was on their own.

Some strategically parked in front of the row with 11 IWC award winning sake, while others worked their way up, down, and across from the less than 1000-yen-a-bottle row, all the way to more than 2500 yen per bottle row. Some comments I heard were,”I like this one.” “Oh, try this one.” “I taste chocolate.” “This one is spicy.” I said, “I like this one because the master brewer, toji, is cute.” Whatever tactics you, the intrepid samurai, decide to go with in the sake battlefield, it is ok, according to my philosophy.

As the event was closing down everyone tried to finish up sake in the rows of cups on the table – can’t be bothered with the tiny eye dropper thing – by saying “mottanai!” “can’t let them go to waste!”. Kay, the Tokyo Sake Meetup Ambassador, who had so many people come up to her during the event to ask what she liked, became friends with a group of other sake enthusiasts who told us about the izakaya, Tomoe, downstairs from where the event was at.

When the whole group slowly but finally moved out of the event room where the staff were all in a hurry boxing up all left over sake bottles, and moved downstairs to the izakaya which is packed with Friday salaryman crowd, we were greeted by Mama-san who moved other customers around to make a room for the us. Instantly, Mama-san and Kay hit it off. Mama-san said “She is my daughter!” out of nowhere pointing to Kay, as we were seated. We ordered some sashimi, karaage, and assorted veggie dishes, with, just like everyone around us were doing, beer and sake. Although the restaurant was packed, Mama-san kept checking on us to make sure everyone was happy. Mama-san’s only daughter is in Sacramento for the last 20 years and she really misses her, we found out. I kept on saying to her, “Although this is my first time here, I feel like we are back at our regular izakaya.” The food was great, the sake was excellent, and it was good the restaurant closes at around 9:30 pm or so. Otherwise, we would not have moved out of there that night! Even with closing time nearing, Mama-san made a point to introduce her new daughter Kay to the big boss, the top sake guy from upstairs at the Sake Brewers Association. What a crazy but fun night where sake samurai in training found what will be our local hangout.

Tomoe carries over 50 kinds of sake but I do not think they have a sake menu. So, if you are in the area, drop by and ask mama-san what’s good or tell her what you like. Their specialty is fish in all forms from sashimi to deep fried or cooked in broth, along with some karaage or vegetable dishes. If you get there before 6:00 pm, you can start with a sake sampler at Sake Plaza, then move downstairs to the restaurant. You will definitely see more posts about Tomoe on Tokyofoodcast.

Samurai and Mama-san

samurais and mama-san

See more pictures on our Meetup photo album.

Map to Sake Plaza/Izakaya Tomoe
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One Response to “Junior Sake Samurai Find Their Regular Izakaya”

  1. As you know, I’m all for picking faves based on the cutest toji. Sounds like you guys had a riot!

    Etsuko, I tried to sign up for the tasting party on 12/8, but it’s full. You’re too popular! Would it be okay if I just dropped by on Saturday for one drink?

    Posted by melinda | November 27, 2007, 8:21 am

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