A friend introduced me to Christopher Pellegrini's informative Shochu Handbook via a Kickstarter campaign that I am proud to say I contributed to. I have been a fan of shochu for some time, but I have been woefully uniformed about it, so the timing seemed right for an English language book about it. In fact Pellegrini points out that shochu eclipsed nihonshu sales during the third "shochu boom" in 2003 and the gap has continued to grow since then; in 2009 one million kiloliters of shochu was shipped while only 634,000 by nihonshu brewers. In the preface, the readers learns about Pellegrini's love of shochu, which resulted in becoming one of the few non Japanese shochu sommelier certificate holders from the Sake Service Institute. The introduction points out the chapters that may of the most interest to readers who can sample shochu in Japan and those who live outside. Chapter One, answers "What is shochu?" and Pellegrini explains how shochu differs from nihonshu (distilled vs. brewed). This is followed by "How is honkaku shochu unique?" (Chapter Two), where he compares shochu to different types of clear alcohol like vodka, soju (Korean liquor), Awamori (Okinawa alcohol), and rum. Chapter Three explains "How is shochu made?" I was surprised to learn in Chapter Four, "Types of shochu," to learn that there are more than 50 types of ingredients, but Pellegrini focuses on the most popular: potato, barely, rice, brown sugar, and buckwheat. I personally found Chapter Five "Reading the label," very useful. In addition, I wasn't aware of the different ways that shochu is served (Chapter Six "How to serve shochu"). There were lots of good suggestions Chapter Seven "Shochu pairing and sharing" and Chapter Eight "Recommended shochu." Chapter Nine "Shochu recipes" seems to be directed toward overseas establishments and Chapter Ten "Basic Japanese for shochu drinkers" would be useful for visitors to Japan. There are artistic photo illustrations throughout as well. The handbook also includes a glossary, further reading, and author biography. This is an extremely useful book that I will be coming back to for reference in the future.
Last night I attended a shochu (an increasingly popular Japanese liqour) tasting at Koan Tokyo in Shinjuku hosted by Christopher Pellegrini. I contributed to his Kickstarter project for his English language book, The Shochu Handbook, which I received a free copy of for my support of his project. (I have started reading it and have gotten four chapters into it-there are 10-and have found it to be very informative). I have had an interest in shochu for several years and enjoy visiting Kyushu, which is the main region for production of shochu. Christopher started by having us do a blind tasting of two types of shochu and take notes. He then did a reveal and talked about the two types of shochu: A:Tomi no houzan (imo [sweet potato]) and B: Hakuten houzan (a different variety of imo shochu from the same company). After that there was a trivia contest where he gave out some prizes for answering shochu-related questions.
I have heard good things about Tonki, a tonkatsu (deep fried pork cutlet) restaurant in Meguro. I guess I thought I had seen it all living near another legendary tonkatsu shop, Maisen, when I lived in Harajuku. But I decided to check it out since it is at the next station over from Ebisu, Meguro, and it was sublime. They only do two types of tonkatsu: rōsu (fatty pork) or hire (lean).
I went with the hire (lean) teishokua (dinner set with oshinko (pickles), miso soup, and rice. recommended.
My first visit to the newest addition to the Mercer cafe empire, M House, located on the hillside down from Garden Place. Eggs benedict and steak and eggs. There are two eggs benedict optiosn that are two pairings of different toppings. A new luxury brunch choice.
For my last meal in Seattle I went with Pat James to Revel, a fusion Asian restaurant in Fremont. We started with a pork belly, kimchi, and bean sprout pancake (or what we call chichimi here in Japan).
Accompanied by short rib, pickled shallot, and scallion dumplings.
For noodles we ordered the lemongrass beef, yu choi, and totamo.
Jin Din Rou has a new shop on the East side near Burger Mania. The lunch special was udon mabo (dofu) with a choice of shumai or sholonpro (soup dumplings) for ¥1000. Not spicy enough and didn't warm up the noodles enough. Good shumai though.
El Pato is an American style restaurant and bar in Koenji. Their burger is mighty fine, but it might be second best burger joint in Koenji-see Fatz's Burgers. However, they do have two types of Shiga Kogen craft beer (one of my favorite Japanese beer makers) on tap and outdoor seating.