I know nothing more about Japanese cuisine and culture than I do from the film Lost in Translation and Wagamama. Therefore I jumped at the chance when I got invited to a sake tasting in conjunction with the Japanese festival of Hanami, Akashi-Tai Sake and Cocochan Restaurant to educate me.
Watch out here’s the educational bit
Hanami is a traditional Japanese custom of enjoying the beauty of the Cherry Blossom. The Hanami season is the end of March to early May. Everyday during the Cherry Blossom season people check a map to see where cherry blossom will bloom. The stunning blossom only lasts for a week or two. People gather under the Cherry Blossom (sakura), picnic and drink sake. Office juniors are sent out to reserve the best spaces for their colleagues for after work.
So let’s talk Sake…
Sake in Japan means any alcohol, in the West it means rice wine.
If there is rice on the plate then sake will be suitably paired with your meal. Sake is thought to be more of a beer than a wine due to the brewing process and contains between 9-20% alcohol. The finer the milled rice the more premium the sake. Sake is traditionally served in units of 180ml. Sake is warmed to room temperature make it easier to digest by the body or in to warm up in cold months, but many can now be served slightly chilled.
If you are new to sake the daiginjo (17%) is recommended as it is delicately flavoured with white flowers and easy to drink.. If you prefer something punchier and fuller try the Honjozo that has citrus flavours, which would the equivalent of a bitter. If you love your dessert wines or making cocktails you must try the Umeshu sweet plum wine.
You can currently try the Akashi-Tai Daiginjo, Honjozo and Umeshu in a kiki sake tasting set for £11 at Cocohan during the Hanami season.
The food accompanying the sake from Cocochan is simply divine, fresh and tasty fish, exquisite and full sushi rolls and what’s more if you dine before 5pm and check in on four square you can get 30% off food. There is a restaurant or if you just wish to have a drink there’s a classy and ambient cocktail lounge downstairs.
I found the sake paired with the food delicious and a refreshing alternative to my usual Pinot Grigio, complementing the food perfectly. There is something so tasty, fresh and healthy about Japanese cuisine. I think it may have triggered a new obsession for Japanese flavours.
Kampai (this means ‘bottoms up’ in Japanese)
Cocochan, 38-40 James Street, W1U
Kiki sake set – £11 during Hanami Season including Daiginjo, Honjozo and Umeshu. Daiginjo alone is usually £10.
Sign in on four square and get 30% off before 5pm