A Samurai’s Guide to Sake

Our very own “samurai”, Drew Peterson, the Corporate Beverage Director of SUSHISAMBA. The picture was taken in a small mountain town in Japan, where he was taking his sake-smarts to the next level (II) as part of a Master’s degree in sake certification (that can only be accomplished in Japan.)

In addition to learning all about sake, Drew also discovered a lot about Japanese cuisine, especially in regards to the preparation of sashimi. Like Koji, Mere and I – he ventured through Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market – the largest fish market in the world. The Tsukiji fish market exports fish all over and always has a huge selection of fresh seafood.

We’ll be working with Drew a lot more on the culinary side – including some exciting pairings to go with NYC’s upcoming Restaurant Week.


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sea butter

A shot of the beautiful fresh uni we saw back in November 2010 on our trip to Tokyo’s Tsukiji Market. We continue to send our well wishes to our friends in Japan.

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Here’s a feast for your eyes – Chef Seiji Yamamoto’s kaiseki at RYUGIN in Roppongi, Tokyo from our Culinary Team trip to Japan this past November.

Automn Menu, November 25th, 2010

Chef Yamamoto’s Specialite – Premium Monkfish Liver from Hokkaido with Special Miso Sauce

Matsuba Crab from Sanin in Hot Starch Sauce

Premium Dashi Soup with Tilefish Grilled on Charcoal and Deep-Fried Egg Tofu

Sashimi Dish with Seabream from Tokushima and Smoked Bonito with Seaweed

Automn Color in a Plate with Seaperch, Fig, Chestnuts and Ginko Nuts in Ryu Gin Style

Fresh Sea Urchins and Yuba with Cold Egg Custard

Wagyu Beef Cheek in White Miso Soup with Flavored Vegetables

Simmered Rice with Cooked Kuroge Wagyu Beef served alongside Miso Soup with Shiba Shrimp Broth

-196 Degree Celsisus Candy Apple with 99 Degree Celsius Apple Jam

Hot Parfait RyuGin Style, Vol 11 “Yuzu”


Afterwards Seiji and the culinary team came outside to meet us. He and Koji was both born in the same town – Kagawa, Japan.  So they had a nice exchange of memories… great way to end the dinner.

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the record-breaker

Here’s The Telegraph’s coverage of the 342kg Bluefin Tuna that was recently sold at a record-breaking £250,000 at Tsukiji Market in Tokyo, Japan. So crazy…

At SUSHISAMBA we’ve created a NO BLUE campaign to protect Bluefin Tuna and help to raise awareness about the species’ endangered status – but it’s important that we continue understand the ecological and economical impact of the global seafood market.

I still have a bunch of other great videos and photos to share from our trip to Tsukiji this past November…. To start, here’s a shot of some of the fresh tuna for sale post morning auction:

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pass the baton

Pass the Baton is a store we found in Chiyoda-Ku, Tokyo filled with lots of random treasures – antiques, vintage clothes, stuff made from recycled goods. The concept/ mission statement is all about ‘personal culture,’ – and bringing new life into an object. Very cool.

Check out the blog too.

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kanji in a can

Every morning in Tokyo and Kyoto, Koji, Mere and I took part in a canned kanji ritual in the lobby of our hotel. In Japan, ready-to-drink canned coffee is available in just about every lobby – and street corner:

The vending machines themselves are pretty high tech… hot and cold distribution; liquid into a cup distribution, etc. The hot canned coffee always came out at the perfect temperature.

According to some of our guide readings – and even Japanese Wikipedia – the big canned coffee fad kicked off in the early 1970s and was really booming by the early 80s. In addition to some names we hadn’t seen before (Pokka, Dydo) – a lot of the big Japanese beverage companies (Suntory, Kirin, Coca-Cola, Nescafe, Asahi) have their own brands/labels in the canned coffee market, too.

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the goods – straight from japan

Just the other day Thrillist.com shared an awesome website – “The Japan Goods Finder.”

It’s an sick source for new products – culinary, design, etc. and it even auto-translates the sites so you don’t have to visit them individually through google’s translation. Among the list: Mitsukoshi Department Store where we found amazing food products.

Check it out here: http://www.japangoodsfinder.com/

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Even in a country with one of the lowest rates of beef consumption – there is evidence of the burger craze. We dropped into pakutchi in Shibuya for a taste…

パクッチバーガー Pakutchibaga
パクッチチキンバーガー Pakutchichikinbaga
タワーバーガー Tower Burger

Here’s our pakutchibaga…

It’s not as often that taste demands your awareness of each component of the burger (beyond the beef). Here, I was surprised that even the lettuce – so fresh! – contributed so much to the flavor/texture. What’s great is that you could deconstruct a pakutchi burger and enjoy each ingredient separately. Not sure how many burgers stand up to that challenge back in the states…

Here’s a full ‘brand’ shot (including the Tower Burger) from GourNavi:

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sunfruits, atelier du soliel

Many of the department stores here include whole floor ‘markets’ dedicated to specialty foods. At Mitsukoshi we discovered Sun Fruits, Atelier du Soliel – a company known for its prized fruits.

Cantaloupes like this (a cultivated variety of muskmelon -the fruit that flavors midori) range anywhere between $50-$100 because of the intensive care that goes into their growth – from temperature and light distribution to regulated trimming and watering. The result is a perfect shape, skin-texture, smell and, of course, taste.

Koji’s pick:

I really like the concept of premium fruits as gifts… another way to pay tribute to seasonality and the value of a specific moment in time.

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Koji, Mere and I have been walking the city on the search of menu layouts, cool design and inspiration – (not to mention to keep our appetites up). I filmed our own version of the Shibuya Crossing – but I think this YouTube video is a much better take. Total chaos – in sync:

The intersection – right in front of the Shibuya Station, Hachikō exit lets pedestrians cross in all directions. Here’s a shot of Koji and I taken from inside a surrounding building:

Shibuya on a plate = [insert your response].

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