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Taste of Shimane

Back in October 2007, I went to a Shimane Sake Tasting that featured 13 brewers from this part of San’in presenting their best in Tokyo. Melinda and I were both really impressed by what these Shimane brewers offered and I went home thinking about a trip to the source to visit some of the kura from that day. It seemed so far away then, but fast forward to March 2008. Finally, Te-chan and I were driving all over the Chūgoku and surrounding areas, starting from Ama-no-hashidate in Kyoto and ending at Itsukushima Shrine in Hiroshima. We had so much fun, learned so much, and ate and drank a lot at each stop we made at each brewery we visited.

Since I was so fascinated, especially, by Shimane with so much history, culture and myth along with its Shōwa like pace of life, I wanted to share my passion with other people by having a Tokyo Sake Meetup event featuring nihonshu from Shimane. With the help of the wonderful staff from the Shimane-kan in Tokyo, a tourism and commercial promotional shop, and the associated Shimane restaurant next door, Mondo, the group had such nice evening last Saturday where we experienced and enjoyed what Shimane hospitality is. Please visit Madam’s You, madam, are no Sei Shonagon for the nice snap shot of the evening with sake summary.

A bit about food in Shimane. Other than fresh fish, which is an obvious local delicacy all along the Japan Sea coast, famous shijimi or fresh water clam from Shinji-ko, soba from Izumo, and wagashi or Japanese sweets from Matsue, I was not too sure what is unique about Shimane food. So, I was curious what Mondo would serve the group to pair with Shimane sake, especially with a special dietary request: no chicken and no red meat.

1. tsukidashi or starter

pickles, fishy kamaboko of some sort, ika no shiokara

2. assorted sashimi

3. chawanmushi

4. grilled anago & Hamada no Akaten (cod and togarashi fishy bits from Hamada City

5. shijimi clam cooked in broth
instant cure for hang-over

6. assorted satsuma age: iwashi and tobiuo (aka ago in Kansai)
I believe satsuma age is called tempura in Shimane, though. I called this hanpen first.

7. gaina don with dried and then grilled saba, ikura, herbs, and nori served with kobu broth

It’s just like hitsumabushi from Nagoya and I think the idea is first you enjoy the dish as is, then enjoy it with the broth.

8. dessert and matcha or green tea monaka ice cream

Now looking back what we had that night, I see why they did not pause even a second when I requested no meat. Shimane offers so much seafood dishes, so it did not matter.

During the lecture by Inoue-san, tourism promotion manager at Shimanekan who is tri-lingual with English, Japanese and Shimane-ben,, I thought it’s interesting to know that still today, Shimane hospitality at home is to have matcha and hot water ready at all times and welcome the guest with freshly made matcha. Her comment, “…because it’s like instant tea and quite easy.”, blew my mind. I always associate matcha with formal and spiritual rules, sado or way of tea, and did not think of it as instant tea. Then it made sense why there were so many wagashi shops in Matsue, especially in the center of the town, it seemed they have 2-3 wagashi shops in every block.

Dan-dan to our wonderful hosts at Shimane-kan and those of you who were at the event! Now, where’s our next destination?

If you are curious about nitty-gritty, geeky details of the Shimane sake we had that night, please visit the Tokyo Sake Meetup message board.

Shimane-kan and Mondo
across Mitsukoshi Honten
1-5-3 Nihonbashi Muromachi, Chuo, Tokyo
東京都中央区日本橋室町1-5-3 福島ビル1階
TEL: 03-5201-3310
Access: Ginza Line/Hanzomon Line at Mitsukoshi Mae Station, one minute from A1 or A4 Exits


2 Responses to “Taste of Shimane”

  1. Wow, sounds tasty! I’m sorry I couldn’t make it, but my session with Elizabeth Andoh finished too late…ergo, I ended up in Golden Gai.

    Hope to catch up with y’all for the next meet-up!

    Posted by Melinda | June 21, 2008, 1:00 pm
  2. Hi Melinda, Now I really have to hear about your Golden Gai stories! Stay cool!

    Posted by et-chan | June 24, 2008, 12:05 pm

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