Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Ki Modern Japanese + Bar [Sake & Shochu Nights]

Ki Modern Japanese + Bar (@kiJapanese) is introducing Sake & Shochu Nights every Friday after 7:00pm. The selection will change every week which is great and it's selected by National Sake Sommelier, Michael Tremblay. At $10 a flight, you can't go wrong given a lot of the sake features are not readily available to the public in Toronto.

Being big sake fan, we were both excited to try the flight tonight and not knowing much about Shochu (not to be confused with the Korean Soju), I was excited to learn more about them.
We sat at the bar side with TVs playing the games, Ben was in heaven. 

Here's a quick bio of Michael Tremblay :
 Michael’s foray into wine and sake has been 20 years in the making, traveling around the world and using wine and sake as a lens for learning about the history and culture of different regions. Michael began his formal wine education with the International Sommelier Guild (Level I and II) before finding a passion for sake, Japan’s ancient national beverage. In 2010, Michael trained with world renowned sake educator John Gauntner in New York and Tokyo, becoming Ontario’s first certified Advanced Sake Professional (ASP).

 Michael loves to teach sake, and in the capacity of Vice President of Education and Knowledge for the Sake Institute of Ontario, has taught many seminars on sake rationality, sake basics and sake making. In addition, Michael was an organizer and Head Judge for Canada’s first ever sake competition, the Toronto International Sake Challenge, where he evaluated over 200 sake samples alongside five esteemed judges (see my post on the event/awards here). Michael is currently the Head National Sake Sommelier for Ki Modern Japanese + Bar, where he manages the largest sake list in Canada. He is dedicated to being Ki’s ambassador for sake, educating guests and staff alike in the beauty and subtle art of sake, wine and food.

Ki Premium Sake Flight $10
It's awesome that Michael came with the bottle and explain each of the sake before pouring it. Just love listening to all the stories, origins and method. Love that it also came with the clue card with the names and history of each sake. I only had the Nigori before, so was excited to try 2 new sake here and my favorite was the 2nd one. Love the choice of the 3 sake which all came from 3 different West coast region of Japan and yet all so different from each other.

Kagatobi 'Gokkan' Junmai, Ishikawa Prefecture
~ Yamada Nishiki + Gohyakumangoku rice 65%
~ Brewery Established 1625
~ Light & Dry with subtle rice notes
The water used at the brewery is called Hyakunensui (one hundred year old water) since this water is believe to spend at least 100 years slowly filtering through the deep underground. Blessed with the minerals from this water, the Kagatobi Gokkan has a refreshing crispness.
Taiheizan 'Tenko' Kimoto Junmai Daiginjo, Akita Prefecture
(this was by far my favorite ♥)
~ Yamada Nishiki rice 45%
~ Brewery Established 1879
~ Delicate aromas of Gala apple, pear & cucumber w/ a crisp, clean palate that is rich in flavor
The focus at Kadama Shuzo is on producing high quality kimoto style sake and this sake is definitely no exception to that philosophy. Kimoto style sake is not easy to make, the process is very labour intensive which require brewers to smash the moromi mash with poles around the clock while waiting for ambient lactic bacteria/yeast to fall in, kickstarting fermentation. The sake at Kodoma uses locally grown rice and the pristine water filtered down from Tahei-san, Akita City's highest mountain.

Rihaku 'Dreamy Clouds' Tokubetsu Junmai Nigori, Shimane Prefecture
~ Gohyakumangoku rice 58%
~ Brewery Established 1882
~ The nose is led by steamed rice, fresh red plums and suggestions of roasted peanuts.
~ Bright & lean
Due to soft water, the sakes at Rihaku tend to be soft and well rounded. Underneath it's subtle and unassuming profile, this sake can show incredible complexity and balance. The brewery is named in honour of the famous Chinese poet Li Bai (aks Ri Haku) and as was typical of classical Chinese poets, he was known to write prolifically about wine and enjoyed drinking. In the mouth, it's bright and lean unlike most Nigori and the impact is chewy with sweet rice flavors.

Izakaya Slate $10
~ kara-age, blistered shishitos, takoyaki, salmon tartar, oshinko (Japanese pickles)
Design to pair with the sake or shochu flight, this is also only available on Friday Night after 7:00pm only. Other days, you can order them separately ($6-$16 Izakaya) but this is such a great deal for such an assortment. I especially enjoy my sake with the pickles and I am sad to say that once again, I didn't get a spicy shishito.

Two dishes from their regular menu and was recommended by our waitress, we were glad to say that we loved both of them and they go perfectly with the Shochu flight.

Hamachi + Jalapeno $16
~ w/ fresh sliced ginger + yuzu shoyu

Tempura Butterfish Roll $16
~ Alaskan king crab, salmon, butterfish, avocado, cucumber + tobiko w/ a tempura crust

Honkaku Shochu Flight $10
Shochu is a Japanese distilled alcohol that is typically distilled from barley (mugi), sweet potatoes (imo), buckwheat (soba), or rice (kome). At 25% alcohol level, it's lower than mos spirits like whisky or vodka. Although Shochu originated in Kyushu, it is produced all over Japan. It is often confused with soju, Korean's distilled spirit. The profile of each shochu depends on the grains used and the distillation process. Shochu can be enjoyed neat, on the rocks or heated and is also great in cocktails. Honkaku refers to single distilled shochu, where the ingredients are allowed to express themselves in the beverage's overall profile.

I personally find Sochu too strong, so I prefer having it with ice.

Miyazaki Honten 'TokinoKokuin' Rice Shochu, Mie Prefecture
~ light, smooth & mellow from 3 years of aok barrel aging
While Miyazaki Honten also makes delicious sake, they are well known for their incredible shochus, many of which are decorated with multiple awards in Japan and Internationally.

66 Gillead 'White Dragon' Rice + Barley Shochu, Price Edward County
~ made from barley, rice and white sesame
~ refreshing with hint of fire on the finish
~ sweet & clean, subtle barley on the nose + a rich earthy palate with lingering toastiness
Who would have known that P.E.I make shochu but we both didn't like it, it was not as smooth and tasted like rye to us.

Tan-Taka-Tan Shiso Shochu, Hokkaido Prefecture
~ Shiso is also known as Perilla, a part of the mint family
~ light flavour & little aftertaste but full aromatic profile of green tea and fresh cut herbs
~ this is made by initially fermenting rice just like sake before adding fresh pickled purple shiso leaves from Hokkaido

Chocolate made in house, love the origami red box

Verdict :
Love the selection, love the mini lessons about the Sake & Shochu
$10 for a flight is just an amazing deal
Will definitely be back since the selection will be different every Friday

*** This meal was complimentary but opinions are my own ***
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