Sake Tasting

April 7th, 2010

Day 79.  After a satisfying breakfast of rice, pickles and miso soup, we headed off to continue our exploration of the city.  After a stroll around the Imperial Palace we took the Metro to Ginza.  We’re experts at the Metro now and bought ourselves a Pasmo card which gives us free reign on all lines belonging to all Metro companies, and almost as importantly, enables us to cashlessly buy drinks from vending machines around Tokyo.

Imperial Palace

At Ginza we paid a visit to the seven storey Bic Camera superstore, a Mecca of electronic gadgetry.  Everything of every model and colour can be found here.  We really mean everything!  There is a entire floor dedicated to mobile phones.  The Japanese favour the long rectangular flip top phone with enough space to dangle a fluffy toy or trinket.  There is a floor for cameras, a floor for T.V.’s etc. etc.  Safe thought about cancelling our tour of Japan so we could live on the wires floor for a week.

Safe quality checks an in-car air humidifier and ioniser which fits into the cup holder

Another trip on the Metro took us to Shinjuku Station, the busiest train station in the world.  Shinjuku is a lively part of town and home to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building boasting amazing views of the city and Mount Fuji from the 45th floor.  Unfortunately the “Shy Mountain” was too embarrassed to reveal itself today.

View of an attractive educational establishment from the 45th floor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building

Late afternoon was spent crossing the street at Shibuya, home to the iconic Tokyo landmark of neon lights and the busiest pedestrian crossing.  When the pedestrian light turns green, half of Tokyo seems to cross the street here.  We did it four times to make sure we’d experienced it properly, three times for practice and once for real.

Crossing the road at Shibuya

It’s no secret that we have a penchant for hot sake and we’d read about a sake specialist in the Shibuya area.  We indulged ourselves and splurged on a slap up meal and a four course sake tasting.  For each type of sake we were invited to choose an individualised cup from a large selection of shapes, sizes and materials.  Choosing the perfect cup was difficult, but drinking the sake was far too easy.

Safe also ordered a Shochu, a rice spirit, which we’d heard had become very popular in Japan.  Little did we know that we’d ordered a half-pint of tequila on ice.  Not one for us lightweight drinkers to repeat!

Choose a cup ... any cup ...

Naturally, we were given a personal table barbeque to roast our oversized shiitake mushrooms, though unfortunately we left the first one stewing a little too long and it shrivelled.  We were given remedial classes from the friendly waiter so our next attempt was cooked to perfection.

The perfect mushroom

The dessert was sublime.  The lemon jelly (pronounced zelly in Japanese) was a feat of engineering where the inside of a lemon had been removed and perfectly (and miraculously) substituted with a lightly perfumed soft wobbliness.  A great end to a special meal.

The perfect wobbliness

On the way back to the hotel, we grabbed a hot sweet milky Royal Milk Tea from a vending machine to help counteract the effects of the Shochu!

2 Responses to “Sake Tasting”

  1. BODAD says:

    Fascinating…Thanks!! Mum was delighted to hear from you, Annie.

  2. James D says:

    An impressive mushroom!
    Try and find a Unagi restaurant when you are there – it was one of my favorite dishes.
    Also try unpasteurised Sake as you can’t get it in the UK. It’s one that is served chilled. nama-zake.
    Glad to see you made it out of the wire floor! :-)
    Request for ceremonial tea powder please… I think it has 4 times the caffeine of espresso!

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