Last Wednesday I attended a sake tasting at Kuraya, a restaurant in Yotsuya that often co-sponsors tastings with Kanda-Izumiya, the sake shop where I take classes. While some tastings are arranged around a thene--for example, new sake--this one was what I guess you'd call a horizontal tasting, with five different types of sake from the Jokigen brewery in Yamagata.
We started off with Daiginjo Yamada Nishiki 40% seimai (yamada nishiki being the type of rice, 40% being what level the rice is milled down to). This had a very strong aroma of pears, and was very smooth, slightly sweet, and not surprisingly fruity tasting. It had a relatively strong alcohol taste, and a nice level of acidity.
The next one was Tezukuri (hand-made) Daiginjo (don't really know why they chose to call this one hand-made). This one was less to my liking, with a very light fragrance and very light flavor, but I think it is actually more typical of the daiginjo style.
Next was Omachi Ginjo (technically a daiginjo given that it's milled to 45%). I've mentioned this one before--it's a personal favorite. Again, very fruity, but strong-boned, and with a good acid balance so it goes well with food.
At this point, we were all getting fairly happy, so I'm afraid my notes get less detailed. Also, when you've drunk the best first, the following ones do tend to seem disappointing. The Junmaishu, however, lacked the usual harshness of a junmaishu (junmaishu has no added alcohol, so the acid can be fairly harsh), and the Dewasan-san Tokubetsu Honjozo was a very light sake, with a slight taste of apples.
For food with all this, we had a very nice sashimi selection, a cellophane noodle stir-fry, a crab stir-fry, croquettes, and a chicken and fish nabe (hot-pot), which was finished off by throwing rice and egg in to make ojiya. Kuraya's specialty is the fried stuff--croquettes and cutlets--although they do have other non-fried items on the menu. (I'm actually not a tonkatsu fan, but Andy P., you'll have to try this one and see how it rates!) As a special now, they have fried oysters. And, if you're so inclined, you can get the deep-fried whale cutlet special.
When they have tastings, the charge for the evening is Y6000, but if you went on a normal evening I'm sure you could get out for much less--this place is CHEAP. I really have no idea how they make money charging so little for such good sake.
Nearest station is Shinjuku Gyoen.