Sake Master Dinner at Ki with Shizuoka’s Oomuraya Shuzo

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Tickets are still available for a very special and intimate sake pairing dinner with Oomuraya Shuzo, the sake brewery behind the popular Wakatake “Demon Slayer” sake.  Located in Shizuoka Japan, the brewery uses pristine water from the southern Alps surrounding Mount Fuji and high quality sake rice cultivated near Japan’s celebrated sencha tea bushes

Master Sake Brewer Hibino-Toji will be on hand to discuss the brewery, sake and what makes Shizuoka special when it comes to brewing. Please join Mariko Iida-Yamazaki, Executive Director of the Japan Prestige Sake Association, Hibino-Toji, in addition to Michael Tremblay, Ki’s certified Advanced Sake Professional, for a special sake dinner at Ki Modern Japanese + Bar.  The menu will consist of an original five course menu created by Ki’s chefs paired with an exceptional lineup of sake brands, some of which are not available in Canada.

Wednesday 1 June 2016  Cocktails 6:30PM / Dinner 7PM
$170 (includes gratuity + HST) 

CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS

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Sake Dinner Poster

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JUST ANNOUNCED – Two Intimate Sake Dinners at ki modern japanese + bar to kick off a sake-filled June.

If you are a fan of sake, then June is shaping up to be a great month for getting your sake fix.  In lieu of Kampai Toronto, Canada’s largest sake festival, ki modern japanese + bar has just announced two intimate sake dinners on two consecutive nights leading up to the phenomenal tasting.  This is your chance to sit amongst sake brewers and sake samurai and enjoy phenomenal sake and food.  I hope to see you there!

Sake Dinner Poster

 

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Ki announces an intimate sake pairing dinner with Shizuoka’s Oomuraya Shuzo, makers of the popular Wakatake Onikoroshi “Demon Slayer” sake brand. Master Sake Brewer Hibino-Toji will be on hand to discuss the brewery, sake and what makes Shizuoka special when it comes to brewing. Please join Mariko Iida-Yamazaki, Executive Director of the Japan Prestige Sake Association, Hibino-Toji, in addition to Michael Tremblay, Ki’s certified Advanced Sake Professional, for a special sake dinner at Ki Modern Japanese + Bar.  The menu will consist of an original five course menu created by Ki’s chefs paired with an exceptional lineup of sake brands, some of which are not available in Canada.
Wednesday 1 June 2016  Cocktails 6:30PM / Dinner 7PM
$170 (includes gratuity + HST) 

CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS

 

 

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Ki is excited to announce an intimate sake dinner with Nagano’s Miyasaka Shuzo, established in 1662, and ENTER.Sake, a sake brand comprised of some of the most exciting craft breweries in Japan.  Please join Keith Norum, Export Director of Miyasaka Shuzo, Sake Samurai Richie Hawtin, and Michael Tremblay, Ki’s certified Advanced Sake Professional, for an unforgettable tour of Japan through sake.  The menu will consist of an original six course menu created by Ki’s chefs paired with an exceptional lineup of sake rarely seen in Ontario.

Thursday 2 June 2016  Cocktails 6:30PM / Dinner 7PM

$180 (includes gratuity + HST) 

CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS

 

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Toronto Sake Courses and Tastings in Early 2016

Happy 2016!  My first post of the year highlights all of the exciting sake related courses and tastings coming up.  Whether you are a sake enthusiast or aficionado, some of these offerings will no doubt be of interest.
 WInter 2016 Poster SIO

SIO’s 4th Annual Winter Warmup


There is no doubt that the Sake Institute of Ontario has been instrumental in elevating the awareness of sake in Ontario.  Those of you longing for the next edition of its Kampai Toronto – Festival of Sake will be happy to attend this scaled down version of Kampai.  This tasting will have plenty on offer, from ~30-40 sake to sample, a kagami biraki ceremony to toast the new year, and a mochi tusk demonstration (not to mention delicious appetizer pairings to enjoy as you sample!).

For more information or tickets:

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Honkaku Shochu Tasting

at IWEG Drinks Academy, February 10


Explore the world of honkaku shochu, an artisanal distilled beverage that stems from southern Japan (and sake’s distant cousin).  The tasting will guide the attendees through the history, geography and production methods of shochu.  In addition, attendees will have the opportunity to taste a wide range of rare shochu.  This is an excellent precursor to IWEG’s upcoming Sake Deconstructed and WSET Level 3 Award in Sake courses.

Seating is limited and available on a first come, first serve basis.
Wednesday, February 10 @6:30PM
$15 per person
$10 IWEG Alumni
For tickets or more information:
admin@iweg.org     416-534-2570

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SAKE DECONSTRUCTED

February 23rd, March 1st, 8th , 15th                                                                       


Sake Deconstructed is an opportunity to explore and taste through the exciting world of sake. This course is focused on a high-level introduction to what sake is all about, touching base on its rich history, ingredients, grades and styles, and regional distinctions.  All students who complete the course receive their own kikisake cup, a professional sake taster’s cup.

The course is comprised of four 2-hour classes:

The Sake A-B-C’s: The Sake Basics, Ingredients, Grades and Styles -This class breaks down all of the grades and styles of sake.  It will also explore ingredients, from the 100s of sake-specific rice strains to the multitude of yeast strains used for making sake.  General topics such as food pairing, service and storage will also be discussed.

History of Sake – This class will delve into the rich historical tapestry of Japan and tell the 2600 year history of sake from its birth to modern times.  Participants will taste some of the unique styles of sake and connect them with ancient methods of production.

Sake Making – This class will explain how sake is made in contrast to the methods of other fermented beverages like wine and beer.

Sake Regions of Japan – This class will travel the world of sake and explore the important regions in Japan that have shaped sake.

For more information on the course, visit IWEG Drinks Academy

 

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WSET Level 3 Award in Sake 

Starting April 11


IWEG is one of six international Approved Programme Providers awarded the privilege to host the WSET Level 3 Award in Sake. This fascinating and diverse beverage category is as interesting and complex to study as any wine or spirit and will enhance knowledge of the world of alcoholic beverages available to consumers. The course aims to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the world of sake and explore the rich history of Japan’s national beverage.  Students attending this course will learn the key ingredients in sake making, the various production methods and their impact on style quality and price. Students will also taste a wide range of styles, many of which are rarely available outside of Japan to reinforce their learning, build their tasting skills and ability to assess Sake.  In addition, students will be able to demonstrate an understanding of the processes and principles behind the proper storage, selection and service of sake.  This course combines classroom and online study, in addition to a visit to the Ontario Spring Water Sake Co.

For information or registration

Kampai!

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Sake Master Dinner with Vine Connections

at Ki Modern Japanese + Bar

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Vine Connections is a leader and educator in the world of premium sakes.  They currently represent some of the world’s most unique and exciting sakes from some of Japan’s oldest and most sought after sakagura.  Please join Monica Samuels, the U.S. National Sake Sales Manager at Vine Connections and sake judge for the National Sake Appraisal and International Wine Challenge, in addition to Michael Tremblay, Ki’s certified Advanced Sake Professional, for a special sake dinner at Ki Modern Japanese + Bar.  The menu will consist of an original five course menu created by Ki’s chefs paired with an exceptional lineup of sake highlighting many of the unique regions of Japan.

Wednesday 21 October 2015 Cocktails 6:30PM / Dinner 7PM

$160 (includes gratuity + HST) for tickets or inquiries, please contact Michael Tremblay at 647.998.2100, or michael@kijapanese.com

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Back to School: Sake Style

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Despite the fact that my school years are well behind me, I still feel the pull of the ‘back-to-school’ clock when August fades.  September still signifies a time to roll up the sleeves and get back to work after spending the summer in cottage country and baking in the sun.  Some of you might feel inclined to go back to school this autumn to learn something far more fun and practical than those subjects taught in school days past. The IWEG Drink Academy’s new Sake Deconstructed course would satisfy this craving. It is a concise (yet thorough!) offering into the world of sake, and as course instructor, I know this is one back-to-school event the grownups will enjoy!

In recent years, Torontonians have rapidly learned to appreciate sake as a versatile beverage, not just delicious on its own but also a strong accompaniment with food, or as an umami filled secret ingredient in a dish or cocktail.    Many have also experienced the myriad of styles and grades it comes in or enjoy it at a multitude of serving temperatures.   Yet,  while the influx of sake lists continues to grow and sake converts are born everyday, increasingly there is a need for sake education.  Many consumers are keen to learn more about sake basics, from grades and styles to the history and regionality of sake.  And consequently this September, an introductory course on sake titled ‘Sake Deconstructed’ will be offered through the IWEG Drinks Academy located at Yonge and Queen Street.  This course promises to demystify sake and inform the public about sake’s magic.

The course is comprised of four 2-hour classes:

The Sake A-B-C’s: The Sake Basics, Ingredients, Grades and Styles -This class breaks down all of the grades and styles of sake.  It will also explore ingredients, from the 100s of sake-specific rice strains to the multitude of yeast strains used for making sake.  General topics such as food pairing, service and storage will also be discussed.

History of Sake – This class will delve into the rich historical tapestry of Japan and tell the 2600 year history of sake from its birth to modern times.  Participants will taste some of the unique styles of sake and connect them with ancient methods of production.

Sake Making – This class will explain how sake is made and contrast the methods to wine and beer making.

Sake Regions of Japan – This class will travel the world of sake and explore the important regions in Japan that have shaped sake.

Sake Deconstructed starts on Monday, September 28.  For more information on the course, visit https://www.iweg.org/courses/sake-deconstructed.

 Kampai!

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Sake Master Dinner with the Japan Prestige Sake Association

I am happy to announce that Ki Modern Japanese + Bar is hosting a very special sake dinner in conjunction with the Japan Prestige Sake Association a couple of days before Kampai Toronto.  It’s the perfect opportunity to immerse oneself into the fascinating world of sake.  I guarantee that the sake we will be pouring is going to be extraordinary!

The Japan Prestige Sake Association was established in 1975 to highlight exceptional sake that can be found throughout Japan. The association’s “Prestige Sake” designation delineates sakes that have been judged as being of the highest quality and character.  This designation has been instrumental to boosting sake’s popularity over the past four decades. The Association has consequently become a valuable resource of information about premium sake and currently represents some of Japan’s finest sake breweries.  Please join Mariko Iida-Yamazaki, Executive Director of the Japan Prestige Sake Association, in addition to yours truly, for a special sake dinner at Ki Modern Japanese + Bar.  The menu will consist of an original five course menu created by Ki’s chefs paired with an exceptional lineup of sake brands, including Hokkai-Otokoyama, Wakatake and Ichinokura.

 I hope you can all make it!  Kampai!

Tuesday 26 May 2015 Cocktails 6:30PM / Dinner 7PM

$150 (includes gratuity + HST) for tickets or inquiries, please contact Michael Tremblay at 647.998.2100, or michael@kijapanese.com

Geisha

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Sake School Comes to Toronto

WSET Sake Course Sets its Sights on Elevating Sake Knowledge Abroad – by Michael Tremblay

In recent years, Torontonians have become knowledgable about sake. They not only appreciate sake as a beverage, but have learned of its versatility and suitability for pairing with food, and for creating cocktails. Many consumers are even yearning to learn more about sake’s provenance and history of origin. With the growing demand for sake in Ontario (as seen from the sold out Kampai – Festival of Sake events held by the Sake Institute of Ontario), comes a growing need for sake education. The Independent Wine Education Guild (IWEG) Drinks Academy has heard the call, and starting in April will tap into sake expertise that exists right here in Toronto to present the Level 3 Award in Sake. This is a new, 8 week course developed by the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) that promises to delve deep into the fascinating world of sake and, like other WSET programming, will have the structure, support and high standards that has made WSET a global name in wine and spirits education.

The WSET Level 3 Award in Sake will be offered globally and will be taught by sake experts, including myself, who have undertaken rigorous training and examinations administered by WSET. Recently potential instructors were invited to attend the sake instructor certification in Japan. Although only a handful of instructor candidates were selected to participate in the certification process, the world was represented by candidates from Hong Kong, China, Korea, United Arab Emirates, United States and Canada. Our tour was an intense seven days of class seminars, brewery visits, tastings and meetings across four of Japan’s prefectures. The week culminated with a visit to the National Research Institute of Brewing (NRIB) in Hiroshima where we attended lectures with some of the Institute’s most venerable professors, including a fascinating lecture on the history of sake with noted sake historian Dr. Shuji Horie. In addition, we participated in the NRIB’s sensory evaluation and sake assessor training, which included palate and aroma intensive exercises to enhance tasting skills and mastery of sake tasting.

NRIB Sake Tasting

The National research Institute of Brewing in Hiroshima is behind many of the advancements in sake over the past 100 years. We had the opportunity to enhance our sake tasting skills by partaking in segments of the Institute’s sensory evaluation program.

Among the many highlights of the tour were two special tastings with representatives of some of Japan’s most revered breweries, including Sekiya Shuzo (Houraisen), Daishichi, Dewazakura, Rihaku, Kamoizumi, Urakasumi, and Hanahato. These tastings gave us a chance to experience a multitude of sake side by side amongst a group of highly knowledgable individuals. In other words, absorbing sake wisdom from Japan’s sake elite!

Houraisen 150th Anniversary

Of the many delicious sakes we tried was this 150th Anniversary Houraisen Junmai Daiginjo from Aichi’s Sekiya Shuzo.

Armed with the experiences of this trip, instructors who successfully passed their examinations and were certified have now returned to their home countries to prepare a rewarding, in-depth and complete sake course for those who also want to improve their sake knowledge. The WSET sake course will cover fundamental concepts including how to taste and assess sake, understanding the ingredients that go into making sake and how they interact in all steps of sake production, reading the kanji on sake labels, sake and food pairing, in addition to sake service and storage. Consequently, the course will provide a comprehensive package of information on, and insights into, the world of sake, and is ideal for anyone wanting to learn more about the beverage, including the general sake enthusiast and the sake professional (everyone is welcome!).  I look forward to showing why I am so passionate about sake when I teach this course, and hope participants finish the course with the same enthusiasm and appreciation for this special beverage.

Canada’s first sake certification will also offer students a chance to explore the inner workings of a sake brewery by visiting the Ontario Spring Water Sake Co., makers of the Izumi brand. Students will also taste a multitude of sake in class which are not readily available in Canada. The course will wrap up just in time for students to test their sake knowledge at this year’s Kampai, where approximately 150 sakes will be available to sample. If you are curious about sake, this course in not to be missed! Anyone interested should attend IWEG’s ‘An Evening with Sake’ on Thursday, February 26 to learn more. Visit https://www.iweg.org/courses/wset-level-3-award-in-sake for more information.

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Kampai!

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Holiday Gift Guide…Sake Style!

9 best sake-centric holiday gift ideas for everyone on your list

Gifts For the Sake Starter

1. Sake Bath by Fresh.  Want to live like a geisha (or pretend to be like one)?  Take a lesson from the cosmetic routines of these traditional Japanese entertainers and soak your skin with sake.
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Want healthy skin? Sake is great at keeping it beautiful!

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2. Sake Brewery Tour and Tasting at the Ontario Spring Water Sake Co.  You don’t need to travel to Japan to visit a sakagura.  Nestled in Toronto’s Distillery District is Ontario’s first and only sake brewery.  A visit to Izumi provides the perfect introduction to sake and where you can always sample just-pressed namazake (unpasteurized sake). Check out Izumi for brewery tour schedules and shop local! IMG_9424 (2)

 

3. Set of Ochoko and Tokkuri.  Of course after visiting Izumi you’ll want to continue the sake sampling at home, so why not pick up your own set of small ceramic sake cups (ochoko) and flask (tokkuri) while you are there?  Or, purchase some custom hand-made pieces from Stratford’s Wild Violet Pottery which uses a wood burning kiln and techniques dating back to 5th Century Japan to craft their wares.  These vessels will allow you and your friends experience one of my favourite sake rituals: pouring for one another but never for yourself. ochoko 2

4. Gift Certificates for a New Year’s Eve Sake Dinner at Ki Modern Japanese + Bar.  The chefs at Ki have been working hard to create the perfect New Year’s Eve dining experience, and I have been having fun creating the sake pairings to guide guests through the vast range of sake offerings we have, in addition to complementing the incredible 6 course dinner.  With over 60 sakes on Ki’s extensive list, there’s enough for one to experience different sakes well past the 12 days of Christmas!
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Tonkatsu Ramen Broth with braised pork belly + soft poached free-run egg is one of the courses for Ki’s New Year’s Eve Menu. The sake pairing? You’ll have to come to taste.

5. Sake (of course!).  To fill your new ochoko (or even your favourite wine glassware), try some of the newly released sake from Vintages.  These are a perfect introduction for both the sake newbie, and won’t disappoint those aficionados on your list either.
Gekkeikan ‘Horin’ Junmai Daiginjo – This is the most under-valued Junmai Daiginjo money can buy in Ontario. Approachable, light and bursting with melon notes.
Nagai ‘Mizubasho’ Junmai Ginjo – Easy drinking (seriously, buy a few bottles of this!) and   perfect with any food.
Mio Sparkling Junmai – Yup, sake is made in sparkling fashion too! This low alcohol, bubbly sake is perfect for holiday celebrations!
Izumi ‘Nama Genshu’ – If you manage to make it to the brewery, it’s a safe bet you will pick up a bottle (or two) of this.
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The Izumi brand features several different Junmai sakes, including their flagship Nama Nama, a blend of several tanks, or their single numbered tanks of Shiboritate.

Gifts For the Sake Specialist

6. Sake Tour to Japan with Sake Journeys  I will admit, this is a pricey gift, but when sake experts and Sake Samurais Chizuko Niikawa and Timothy Sullivan are your guides you are guaranteed an unforgettable and educational trip with access to some of Japan’s best breweries and izakayas. IMG_9428
7. WSET Level 3 Sake Award Finally…a sake course in Toronto!  The Independent Wine and Education Guild (IWEG) is one of only a handful of Approved Program Providers of the Wine and Spirits Education Trust’s (WSET) new Level 3 Sake Award.  This is an intensive 8-week course (taught by yours truly!) that will touch upon all thing’s in the sake world.  IMG_8625
8. Sake Glassware If the person on your list is in constant pursuit of enhancing their sake experience, then this sake glassware is for them.  The Usuhari Daiginjo Glass or Riedel Vinum Daiginjo Glass are perfect accessories to enhance that special bottle of hand-crafted sake.
SHOTOKU 'USUHARI' DAIGINJO GLASS.  Made out of ultra thin glass, this is the perfect way to enhance the aromas and flavour of your favourite premium sake!

SHOTOKU ‘USUHARI’ DAIGINJO GLASS. Made out of ultra thin glass, this is the perfect way to enhance the aromas and flavour of your favourite premium sake!

9. Sake (Part II)  For sake enthusiasts and specialists alike, here are more Vintages findings worth hunting down:
 Tengumai ‘Umajun’ Junmai – From one of Japan’s finest yamahai jikomi makers, located in Ishikawa Prefecture, this sturdy, full-flavoured sake is perfect for the wintry weather.
Tengumai Yamahai Junmai

Tengumai Yamahai Junmai

Okunomatsu Tokubetsu Junmai – From a brewery that still has ties to the samurai!  A brilliant sake that has a complex array of tropical fruit, earth tones interlaced with hints of spice.
Konteki ‘Pearls of Simplicity’ Junmai Daiginjo – From one of Kyoto’s boutique breweries comes this wonderful sake made with the famous Fushimi mizu, the underground water of Kyoto city’s famous Fushimi district.
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Konteki ‘Pearls of Simplicity’ Junmai Daiginjo from Kyoto’s Higashiyama Shuzo.

 Wakatake ‘Demon Slayer’ Tokubetsu Junmai – From Oomuraya Shuzo in Shizuoka Prefecture, this sake has a delightful fruity notes synonymous with the sake from Shizuoka interlaced with some woody / cereal elements from the rice they use.
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Wakatake ‘Demon Slayer’ Tokubetsu Junmai from Shizuoka’s Oomuraya Shuzo.

 Happy Holidays!  Here’s to a wonderful new year! Kampai!

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Tengumai Yamahai Junmai

Now Available at LCBO Vintages

Shata Shuzo’s venerable Tengumai brand is finally available at selected LCBO Vintages. This is the gold standard in Junmai sake – sturdy, full and bursting with flavour.  Grab this while you can!

The Facts

Brewery: Shata Shuzo

From: Ishikawa, Japan

Seimai Buai (milling rate): 60%

Profile: Full bodied, warm and rich with earthy, mushroom, and nut aromas.  This sake has a clean, dry finish and pronounced acidity.

Tengumai Yamahai Junmai

Tengumai Yamahai Junmai

Background:  Established in 1823, Shata Shuzo is a jizake (boutique) brewery still hand-crafting sake using the traditional yamahai shikomi method.  Generally, yamahai sakes are higher in acidity, full and can be a little sweeter.  Another characteristic of yamahai sake is the funk, gaminess, or earthy aromas they can possess to match the full flavours.   Personally, I prefer my Tengumai gently warmed but it does lend itself well to a whole range of serving temperatures (since it’s summer, try it on the rocks).

Tengumai Yahamai Junmai is also an excellent complement to food and easily complements the local Ishikawa cuisine.  Since the prefecture is bookended by the Sea of Japan to the west and mountainous terrain to the east, Ishikawa plates are found filled with of a combination of fresh seafood and mountain vegetables – perfect for Kanazawa’s washoku cuisine.

Ingredients:  Gohyakumangoku rice is used to provide a clean, dry sake.

Fun Fact: ‘Tengumai’ is named after the dancing tengu, a goblin-like creature from Japanese mythology that was said to be a guardian of mountains.  The brewery decided to name it after the tengu due to the rushing sounds of the wind through the trees surrounding Shata Shuzo.  It sounded as if the tengu were drinking sake and dancing in the forest.

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Sake Dinner with Kamoshibito Kuheiji

at Toronto’s Ki Modern Japanese + Bar

Kamoshibito Kuheiji is somewhat of a phenomenon in Japan.  Having achieved a cult status on the level of Screaming Eagle, new vintages of this sake are snapped up and sold out as soon as they are released.   The makers of Kamoshibito Kuheiji, Banjo Brewery, only produces ~800 koku a year.  Under the direction of the 15th generation owner and manager, Kuheiji Kuno, production was lowered in favour of quality.  This small sakagura is over 200 years old but they are part of a new wave of sake makers, embracing the traditional sake making methods while crafting sake that is compellingly modern and wine-like.  Consequently, the sakes are released with vintage dates on the bottle and are increasingly a hit at food focused Japanese and Parisian restaurants.  At least those who can get their hands on a few bottles.

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Please join Kuheiji Kuno, in addition to Michael Tremblay, Ki’s certified Advanced Sake Professional, for a exclusive sake dinner at Ki Modern Japanese + Bar.  The menu will consist of an original five course menu created by Ki’s chefs paired with an exceptional lineup of Kamoshibito Kuheiji sakes.  This is definitely not to be missed!

 Wednesday 25 June 2014 Cocktails 6:30PM / Dinner 7PM

$225 (includes gratuity + HST) for tickets or inquiries, please contact Michael Tremblay at 647.998.2100, or michael@kijapanese.com

Geisha (2)

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