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Joy of Sake – Sep 11 September 10, 2011

Posted by marksun in Japanese.
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For a good time, check out  a Joy of Sake event, by far the premier sake tasting event in the world, possibly even including Japan .   Of course, for 2011 in Honolulu, you missed it; last night it was at the Sheraton Waikiki.  A huge crowd showed  up to sample 300 sakes and tapas style  offerings from 15 fine local restaurants.  We arrived late, battling heavy traffic, armed with our own little sake cups to check out the staggering array of Daiginjo A, Daiginjo B, Ginjo and Junmai sakes.

Sake is brewed from rice,  polished to remove the outer layers of the rice kernels.  Rice kernels are seeds and as such, have multiple layers with different properties,  adding flavors and effects to the brew.  Sake is graded by the % of rice remaining after the outer layers are polished away by Japanese villagers armed with tiny vises and files.  Junmai sakes are made from kernels with a polishing ratio of 60-70%, Ginjo 60%, Daigino B 40-50%, and Daiginjo A 40% or less.   The economics: the more polished the rice, the more expensive the sake.  Naturally, the raw material is only the beginning of the brewing process but it is more or less the case that the polishing ratio has a major effect on the overall quality of the final drink.

The Sheraton at night is a busy place.  T-shirted guides got us to the right place – check in tables, parking validation ($8),  a JOS t-shirt table,  and Mr JoyOfSake himself, Chris Pearce greeted us – this is his event, and it was obvious and no doubt a relief, that from the overall aura of happiness that the night was beginning well.

The layout is such that tables are set up for the various kinds of sake, each brew assigned a number, such as “Born Kusen Junmai Daiginjo”,  from Fukui Prefecture, # A01, Silver Star.  How do you attack 326 bottles of sake and live to tell about it?

Getting there more or less puts the final touch on a week of work.  Traffic into Waikiki was epic.   70 minutes into the car ride,  10 minutes and 300 feet from our destination, we realized that we had neither cash nor checks.  However, there on the sidewalk we spied a First Hawaiian Bank ATM.  D got out, sauntered over to the ATM,  downloaded some cash, and got back into the car.   Sheraton Parking  Navigation tip for 7 PM Fri night.  Do not enter Waikiki via on Kalakaua Ave. unless you have a full tank of gas and time to kill. Find a route that takes you south on Royal Hawaiian St. which runs perpendicular to Kalakaua and which leads directly to lobby of Sheraton. Before you get to the lobby loop (which will have an insane valet situation) , turn right  before entering the lobby loop on Don Ho St and then hang a  left into the Sheraton parking structure ramp.