March 26, 2016

Tokyo sakura trip day 1: drunken onion, episode 4

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After a couple of quick stops to fill our stomachs while recovering from the overwhelming Robot Restaurant (ロボットレストラン), I decided to be lazy and took a cab to our next stop.  It's a pilgrimage I have to make on every trip to Tokyo, and I'm glad I got the chance to come back to Tamanegiya (酒たまねぎや) once again.

As usual Master served up a little amuse bouche... with some braised fish and also a couple of cape gooseberries.  The cape gooseberries were very ripe and sweet tonight.

I tried to take things easy at the start, knowing that I'll be going after some heavy-hitters towards the end...

Shun Kanmuri Daiginjo Tobin Show Special (駿 冠 大吟醸 斗瓶選抜酒), 26BY - with a seimaibuai (精米歩合) of 40%.  Nose of banana and a little bit of fermented rice, but surprisingly smells a little dry.  Nice sweetness on the mid-palate with a dry finish.

Azumaichi Daiginjo Tobintori Katsuki Special (東一大吟醸 斗瓶取り 勝木スペシャル), 24BY - with a seimaibuai of 39%.  Not much on the nose here.  Pretty smooth and soft mid-palate, with a slightly dry and spicy finish.

Hatsukame Show Special (初亀 鑑評会出品酒), 27BY - once again Master has bought up all 34 bottles of this.  Also not much on the nose except lots of fermented rice, with medium dryness and a little sharp on the finish.

Hatsukame Kame Junmai Daiginjo (初亀 亀 純米大吟醸), 10BY - with a seimaibuai of 35%, this is a koshu (古酒) with 16 years of aging.  Surprisingly muted nose, but very rich on the palate with plenty of depth here.  Pretty spicy and dry on the finish.

Master also gave us some grilled mullet roe (カラスミ) from Taiwan, which spent enough time over heat to take out a lot of the moisture.  The texture was more dry and didn't stick to the teeth too much.

Then I decided to go for my usual vertical of Isojiman Nakatori 35... asking Master to pour me four glasses with each glass from a different vintage.  Master has seen me do this before, and asked me whether I would like to taste a fifth vintage.  Hello?!  He knew the answer to that question!

As it turns out, our neighbors at the bar were also from Hong Kong, and the gentleman decided to join me for the vertical tasting.  As some of the bottles didn't have enough to deliver two pours, Master very kindly opened up 4 fresh bottles for us.

Isojiman Junmai Daiginjo Nakatori 35 (磯自慢 純米大吟醸 中取り 35), 26BY - the only glass not poured from a fresh bottle.  Lots of banana and sweet, ripe tropical fruit in the nose.  Fresh and vibrant.

Isojiman Junmai Daiginjo Nakatori 35 (磯自慢 純米大吟醸 中取り 35), 25BY - more clean and tight compared to the 26BY, with lovely floral notes and also honeydew melon.  Sweet on the palate with a little dryness on the finish.  Pretty elegant.

Isojiman Junmai Daiginjo Nakatori 35 (磯自慢 純米大吟醸 中取り 35), 24BY - more elegant, plenty of honeydew melon, and pretty sweet on the palate.  Later on showed a little of that paint thinner with the banana smell (香蕉水).  The favorite of the crowd tonight.

Isojiman Junmai Daiginjo Nakatori 35 (磯自慢 純米大吟醸 中取り 35), 23BY - also kinda fruity, showing more fermented rice.  A little drier on the palate.

Isojiman Junmai Daiginjo Nakatori 35 (磯自慢 純米大吟醸 中取り 35), 22BY - a little banana and honeydew melon, with some floral notes.  A little bit of acidity here.

Normally I would ask Master to bring out something much, much older, but tonight I felt that I had had enough to drink.  After all, I was surviving on only a couple of hours' of sleep and had been running around all day.  Time to go hit the sack...

The only unfortunate thing about tonight was that I was unable to smell a number of the sakes properly.  There were two reasons for this: master was grilling tuna collars for two groups of guests, so the smell filled the place for a while.

But the other, more annoying, reason was that the Japanese guests were smoking inside the bar.  It really pisses me off that other people would pollute the air with cheap cigarette smoke when I'm spending good money on expensive wine or sake, as I get easily 80% of my enjoyment from the nose itself.  But since Master didn't say anything, I bit my tongue and suffered in silence.

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