Sake Nation Kosher Certification Part 5

By Kosuke Kuji

Just as I mentioned in the last column, Nanbu Bijin cleared different hurdles to receive Kosher certification for 2 types of liquor of Japanese sake and plum wine to lead the way. For the announcement of our company receiving certification, the first announcement was made in the Holy Land of Judaism, Israel.

Next, focusing on Israelis living in Los Angeles and New York in the U.S., we had the Kosher announcement and tasting events. We are planning to also have these kind of tasting events in Japan in the future.

The reason why Nanbu Bijin wanted to apply for Kosher certification in the first place was the Great East Japan Earthquake and at that time we received much support from Israel including Rabi Edelhi. Also as a company that exports, sake is known to be reliable and safe, but I was thinking for a long time what might be needed to make it possibly more acceptable worldwide as a guarantee or decision making factor. During such a time I met up with this “Kosher.”

Even though Japanese sake has the image of being healthy or safe and reliable worldwide, that image is very much limited to foreigners that know Japanese or Japan very well. So you may say, to conclusively prove that abstractive healthy image was the motive to challenge this Kosher certification.

For a small country brewery like Nanbu Bijin to receive certification when the hurdle was first so high to reach the Kosher level, I believe that there will be an increase of breweries that will plan to receive Kosher certification in the Japan Sake making industry from now on.

I believe that Kosher sake will break down the wall of religion, put aside the concept of Japanese food, and be the key to make Japanese sake spread across the world with a true meaning. This might be a story slightly ahead in the future instead of right away, but I will dream that such a time will come and continue to work hard to achieve that.

酒豪大陸「コーシャ認定 その5」







#alljapannews #sake #kosher #certification


The disruption of the Sho Chu Market

By Yuji Matsumoto

While sake is renown as an alcoholic beverage unique to Japan, there is very little recognition of shochu among American consumers. Because there is little information on the difference between the Korean Soju and traditional Japanese shochu, consumers are confused. This is a unique case particular to California, but despite shochu being a distilled spirit, if imported with alcohol level below 24%, then restaurants with Beer & Wine licenses can sell them as “Soju” as long as they’re imported and registered accordingly. Because over 90% of Japanese restaurants in California only hold Beer & Wine licenses, the term “Soju” must be used over “Shochu.” Depending on the manufacturers, some register two different labels for the same brand: the term “Soju” is used for alcohol level of 24%, while alcohol level of 25% and above is referred to as “Shochu.” The root of all confusion is this law. While the vendor wants to sell as Shochu, the market becomes so limited by the naming that vendors are forced to sell them as “Soju” instead. Since the label reads “Soju,” there’s no point in trying to explain that “Japanese Shochu is different from Soju,” since most American consumers don’t read Japanese and won’t understand the difference. I’m also troubled about how to train my employees.

The root of all confusion is this law. While the vendor wants to sell as Shochu, the market becomes so limited by the naming that vendors are forced to sell them as “Soju” instead. Since the label reads “Soju,” there’s no point in trying to explain that “Japanese Shochu is different from Soju,” since most American consumers don’t read Japanese and won’t understand the difference. I’m also troubled about how to train my employees.

While the Japanese are well aware of the obvious difference between the Korean Soju and traditional Japanese shochu by the name, it’s still a notable problem that American consumers who hold the key to expansion into future markets don’t know this difference. Since it seems unlikely that this law will be revised anytime soon, the only option is to advocate the ingredients, processing methods and ways to enjoy shochu as Japanese Premium Soju. Also, for import and distribution companies, one suggestion would be to distinguish Shochu as Japanese Premium Soju, or to include the subtitle “Honkaku Soju.”


日本固有の酒文化として日本酒(サケ)は大分知られるようになったが、まだまだ焼酎の知名度はアメリカ人にとって低い。また、韓国Sojuと日本の本格焼酎の違いについても情報提供がないため、消費者は困惑するばかりだ。カリフォルニア州での例外話しだが、日本の焼酎は蒸留酒にもかかわらず、アルコール度数が24度以下で「Soju」として輸入登録すればBeer & Wineライセンスのレストランでも売れる面白い法がある。9割以上のカリフォルニア州の日本食レストランは、Beer & Wineのライセンスしか保有していないので、ここで飲めるのは焼酎という名前ではなくSojuということになる。




日本人にとってはその違いは文字で端的に韓国Sojuと日本の本格焼酎の区別が理解できるが、今後の市場の拡大を握っているアメリカ人消費者には分からないのが大きな課題だ。この法律規制は、当面解消されることがないので、とりあえずはJapanese Premium Sojuとしてその原料や製法、飲み方を提唱していくことしかないのである。また、輸入や販売会社においては、Japanese Premium Soju、もしくは、サブタイトルに「Honkaku Soju」と入れるといいかもしれない。
#alljapannews #soju #sake #shochu


Sake Nation  “Kosher Certification Part 4”

By Kosuke Kuji

For Kosher certification, we start by having the Rabbi, leader of Judaism religion, observe the raw materials and manufacturing processes. After Nanbu Bijin planned to apply for Kosher certification for about 1 and ½ years, we had Rabbi Edelhi (exact spelling not sure) of Chabad of Japan come to our brewery many times. Certification for plum wine and other liquors besides sake were involved so the number of visits were more than usual, and we also had him observe the raw material of rice(s), fruit producer(s), and processing facilities etc. During the processing, even though indications of temperature of sterilization or as a raw material it is not certified, he carefully observed the contents of the extract that are used to culture the yeast etc, and strictly checked to see if any animal product or dairy product was used. In addition, regarding the raw materials, they all needed to be separated as ‘Kosher use’ in their records and must easily be identified at a glance. During this process, there was a problem with “distilled alcohol” which had the highest hurdle of Kosher certification for Japanese sake. At first we were told that we would not be able to receive Kosher certification if distilled alcohol was used due to difficulty of identifying the raw material(s) of distilled alcohol. Also, we had to show the condition of the distilled alcohol before it was mixed, and to put it strictly, this could not be achieved without having 2 separate facilities to make the sake.

However a large light of hope beamed on us here. One kind of distilled alcohol made by a distilled alcohol company in Shizuoka prefecture unbelievably succeeded in receiving Kosher certification as is.

In other words, if you use that Kosher certified distilled alcohol, the hurdle would immediately get lowered and the brewer of the Japanese sake got lucky to receive Kosher certification.

酒豪大陸「コーシャ認定 その4」


南部美人としてコーシャの認定を受けようと計画してから約1年半かけて、何度もCHABAD OF JAPANのラビのエデリーさんに蔵にきていただきました。日本酒だけではなく、梅酒などのリキュールの認定もあるので、その回数は通常よりも多く、さらには、原材料の米や果実の生産者、加工の施設なども視察していただきました。





#alljapannews #sake #koshercertification


Replicating authentic Japanese izakaya with the food, service and ambience

Replicating authentic Japanese ... Replicating authentic Japanese ... Replicating authentic Japanese ... Replicating authentic Japanese ... Replicating authentic Japanese ...
By Keiko Fukuda

There is a restaurant in Torrance that has gained popularity quickly in the past few years for its vivid ambiance, in which you enjoy fresh seafood and meat dishes. It is “Izakaya Hachi”. Another Hachi restaurant also opened in Costa Mesa in Orange County a year ago. They opened their first restaurant in Santa Monica about 9 years ago as an affiliated restaurant of the Manpuku Group, and their popularity grew when they moved to Torrance in April of 2013.

“Back then, my goal was to make a restaurant where people can feel the true essence of Japan in Torrance where many people from Japan live, and many of them are corporate business people on assignments. My image for this place was a typical izakaya in the Shinbashi area of Tokyo. Lately, more and more local people started to come by word of mouth. I was not expecting that, but I heard that good reviews on social media such as Yelp spread widely,” says Tomohisa Kawachi, the Supervisor.
Their meat is procured from the same vendor which the Manpuku Group uses. Hachi’s most recommended meat dish is the thickly sliced beef tongue. The slowly charcoal-broiled tongue is flavorful and has a hint of sweetness. Their solid confidence in the freshness of the ingredients is represented by having beef sashimi on the menu. The seafood ingredients are directly sent by air from Japan.

There are so many items of seafood, meat, vegetables, and even Battera (pressed sushi) on the menu, which makes it difficult for you to make decisions. The list of menu items gets renewed every 6 months after a deep discussion between the chef and Mr. Kawachi.

Kawachi continues, “The data shows what sells well. What we want to push is not necessarily the same as what customers want. Therefore, based on the data, we decide what to leave, and what to add on the menu. For the dishes that are loved by only a few customers, we still offer them as the daily specials once in a while.”

Among their alcoholic drinks they carry for pairing with the food items, they recommend “Shinriki” from Hiroshima as a rare and precious sake brand. Among sake rice, Yamadanishiki is well known nowadays; however, before World War II, Shinrikimai was also very widely used along with Yamadanishiki. The Shinrikimai was believed to be eradicated due to the atomic bombing in the area.

He said, “A small amount of survived crop was found a few years ago, and preserved. Now, only a few hundred bottles of sake made with Shinrikimai are sold only in Kure-city of the Hiroshima prefecture. We get a few of those precious bottles through a special connection after a negotiation.
The sake Kawachi loves is "namazake" (non-filtered raw unprocessed sake). He says, “Its alcohol content is 19%, which is very different from other dry, fresh Japanese sake brands that are currently popular in the US. It tastes so satisfying!” He seems to be really fond of this sake.

“Customers are happy as long as good food and sake are there, and we tend to speak louder encouraged by seeing them being content. This reaction provides the restaurant’s vivid ambiance. I believe that vividness of a restaurant is created not intentionally by the restaurant, but by the customers. To me, it is very important for the healthy growth of the restaurant to keep making solid and consistent efforts in improving the quality of the service with continuous training of the staff,” says Kiuchi. This restaurant does not advertise at all. I asked him about the target for 5 years from now. “I would like Hachi to become a restaurant of a higher quality, meaning the kind of restaurant which even people from far-away places want to visit.”

Even now, there are already more than a few people who come from outside of the State. They also even have received a request to open another branch outside of California. However, as an immediate goal, Kawachi thinks it is more important to have the Costa Mesa branch catch up with the success of Torrance. I believe that the possibility of having more branches may open up after achieving that goal.













Izakaya Hachi
1880 W.Carson St.Ste A
Torrance, CA 90501

Mon.-Thu. 5:30pm-10:30pm
Fri. 5:30pm-11:00pm
Sat. 5:00pm-10:30pm
Sun. 5:00pm-10:00pm
#alljapannews #Japanese #sake #izakaya #authentic #Torrance


How to select sake suitable for enjoyment as hot sake

One appeal of Japanese sake is the wide range of temperatures for consumption. By changing the temperature, the flavor of the same brand of sake varies greatly, interestingly enough, along with its compatibility with various dishes, making sake enjoyable year-round.

In the fall, the flavors of dishes switch from mild to richer, the temperature of the atmosphere gets lower, and the best season for hot sake arrives.

However, many consumers cannot determine from the label which sake is suitable for consumption as hot sake.

I have written in the past about the need to improve display methods to “indicate on sake labels” (despite many consumers wanting to know how to consume the sake and what foods are most compatible together for consumption, such information is not indicated), and it’s disappointing to see that information is still not displayed on sake labels today. While some sake manufacturers do list the suitable temperature range, most don’t.

Therefore, in this article, we introduce a rough standard determined from the writings displayed on most labels.
Sake suitable for hot sake

• Sake indicated as Junmai or Honjozo
• Yamahai or Kimoto
• Dry

Sake not suitable for hot sake

1. nigori type (unfiltered sake) or flavored sake
2. Namasake (draft sake) or Genshu type (unprocessed sake)
3. Low alcohol level or sparkling sake
4. Daiginjo or Ginjo is basically to be avoided (with some exceptions)

Appropriate temperature range for heating
While gently heating the entire bottle by placing it in warm water is the best way, microwaving is also OK. For approximately 6 oz. of sake, remove the bottle from the warm water after heating for twenty seconds. Slew the bottle and place again in the warm water for approximately 10 seconds. The temperature is best kept at “lukewarm”.





• 純米や本醸造と書かれているもの
• “山廃や生もと造り”などが書かれているもの
• ドライ、辛などの表示があるもの

1. にごりタイプやフレイバー酒
2. 生酒や原酒タイプ
3. 低アルコール酒や発泡酒
4. 大吟醸や吟醸系は基本的に避ける(例外もある)

#alljapannews #Japanese #sake #hotsake


Enjoy food with Japanese sake

By Yuji Matsumoto

Recently, I’m often asked from Americans, “Wine is often used for cooking, can you also use Japanese sake?” Japanese sake is great for cooking, because it contains many umami components for use in various ways.”

Eliminating Odor
Sake is useful to eliminate odor from pork, lamb, etc., although this odor may be characteristic for lamb. To flavor food while preparing Japanese cuisine, sprinkle sake over food when the odor is too strong and leave for two minutes to eliminate the odor.

Softens Proteins
Placing chicken breast, red beef, and meat for stew into a Ziploc bag with sake the day before use is effective in removing the dryness and making the meat delicious. Sake enhances great flavor to BBQ and yakiniku meat.

Adds umami flavors
The fact that sake is useful for cooking food in soy sauce to various soup dishes are known to many. Surprisingly, sake is also great for preparing western soup dishes, especially when using seafood. Adding sake further enhances flavors. Of course, sake is great for adding flavor to pasta and other dishes, so please give it a try.

Sake is great for cooking!
Cooking sake and Junmai sake is great for cooking! Ginjo, Daiginjo is great for enjoyment, but as for suitability for cooking, Junmai is better because of its high content of umami flavors. Furthermore, the prices are high, so it’s a waste to use such expensive sake for cooking.






#alljapannews #Japanese #enjoy #sake #umami


Sake Nation "Kosher Certification Part II"

By Kosuke Kuji

In last issue's column, we mentioned: "On April 17th 2013, by a certification body called Chabad of Japan, Nanbu Bijin received a certification of “Kosher” to certify that their products are safe and trustworthy based on the dietary food standards of Judaism." We also explained what Kosher is in the last issue, but in reality what type of Kosher foods are OK to eat and which are not according to Judaism religion?

First, regarding acceptable Kosher meats, basically grass-eating animals that are also ruminants (animals that have two or more stomachs) are the conditions.

Cows and lamb are OK, but pigs or rabbits cannot be eaten. Also, blood must be completely drained. Meat that is prepared by their standards can only be eaten.

In other words if it is cow or lamb, you cannot eat it whatever way you want and you are not able to eat it unless it is prepared according to the rules. Since draining the blood is one of the main rules, Japanese will probably think that Kosher beef etc have a dried-out texture.

In addition, it is OK to eat fish and shellfish etc with fins or scales, but you cannot eat shell fish like shrimps or crabs etc, clams, octopus and squid etc. Since scales are not noticeable on unagi (fresh water eel), that cannot be eaten also.

There are regulations for each food, but also there are regulations for food combinations and it is forbidden to have beef with dairy products and using animal fat. To put it strictly, even cooking utensils and the kitchen need to be separated, so it's challenging for the person that has to cook. Within these food combinations, a salami pizza or chicken cream soup do not exist.

I have explained there are several strict rules to be classified Kosher, and I would like to write how this certification is carried out in the next issue.

酒豪大陸「コーシャ認定 その2」

南部美人では、2013年4月17日に、CHABAD OF JAPANという認定機関により、ユダヤ教の食餌規定にのっとり、安全、安心な食材として認定される「コーシャ(kosher)」の認定を受けました、と前回のコラムにも書かせていただきました。そしてコーシャとはどのようなものなのか、前回は説明をさせていただきましたが、実際に、ユダヤ教の教えであるコーシャの中で食べてもいいもの、ダメなものはどんなものがあるでしょうか。




#alljapannews #sake #kosher #certification #chabadofjapan


Evaluation of the Japanese sake

By Yuji Matsumoto

It’s simple to state that sake is a beverage of taste, selected and consumed according to individual preferences.

However, “delicious” share the following common characteristics:
• Sweetness
• Acidity
• Saltiness
• Bitterness
• Umami flavors

The balance between these common elements is important to produce this “delicious” flavor. What’s referred to as one’s “preference” is in addition to this balance being achieved first, with some preferring the “sweet flavor” slightly more enhanced than the other four flavors to deem the sake delicious. The phrase “secret ingredient” commonly used in cooking refers mostly to the introduction of a lacking taste (like acidity, umami flavor, etc.) to enhance the “delicious flavor.” (In Japanese sake, the “secret ingredient” refers to the blending of sake at times with another sake prepared in a different tank to adjust the flavor).

This same concept applies to Japanese sake, where the even balance of these flavors (hardly any saltiness contained) is examined to evaluate sake. Sweetness and acidity is easy to recognize since these flavors ‘attack’ the palate immediately upon consumption. However, umami flavors are embedded deep in the sake, usually detected in the aftertaste and when the sake passes the tongue. Also, depending on the temperature of the sake and the food that is consumed with the sake, the umami flavors sometimes become quite notable. Thus, caution must be exercised to evaluate various umami flavors, for some have a long-lasting aftertaste while others dissipate quickly.

For those who like enhanced dry flavor in a well-balanced sake will likely prefer an acidic taste immediately upon consumption with a short-lived aftertaste, while those who like sweet flavors will likely prefer sake with a fruity aroma that is rich and long in aftertaste.

To select Japanese sake that is truly to your liking (or to the customer’s liking if you’re a sake sommelier), please take the time to experiment by changing the sake temperature and the food accompanying the sake.








#alljapannews #sake #sommelier #evaluation


Sake Nation Kosher Certification Part I

By Kosuke Kuji

On April 17th 2013, by a certification body called Chabad of Japan, Nanbu Bijin received a certification of “Kosher” to certify that their products are safe and trustworthy based on the dietary food standards of Judaism. Probably many of the Japanese that read this column may not be familiar with the certification of “Kosher”, so I would like to break up my explanation into a few different installments and talk about what we did to receive the certification, why it was necessary to get the kosher certification, and what can be expected in the future. First, I would like to explain what “Kosher” is. Kosher was the world’s first commandment regarding food given by God to the Jewish race and had an original meaning to point out that it means “proper” or “it can be accepted”. In the Bible, Adam and Eve were ordered that they cannot eat the fruit from a tree.

Since then the Jewish have shown a strict self-discipline regarding foods and main rules regarding Kosher are noted in Mose’s 5th commandment. The Jewish based their dietary habits on that commandment and as a result have led healthy lives.

In recent years, Kosher is a byword for “Purity”, “Trustworthy”, “Safe”, “Fine quality”, is acceptable with vegetarians and others besides the Jewish, and especially in the U.S. many people accept Kosher products as “foods that are healthy and trustworthy”. If you look across the Globe, there are over 28 million people that only purchase Kosher certified products, and of that number only a small percentage are Jewish. It is clear that vegetarians or consumers having high consciousness of food select these Kosher products. As you can see, Kosher started being accepted around the globe in recent years, and in the next issue I would like to talk in detail what kind of dietary food standard it really is.

酒豪大陸「コーシャ認定 その1」

南部美人では2013年4月17日に、CHABAD OF JAPANという認定機関により、ユダヤ教の食餌規定にのっとり、安全、安心な食材として認定される「コーシャ(kosher)」の認定を受けました。






#alljapannews #sake #kosher


How to select and recommend Japanese sake

By Yuji Matsumoto

The number of Japanese sake brands available in the U.S. is increasing annually with approximately 450 brands offered domestically. Compared to the approximately 1,500 sake breweries in Japan with approximately 20,000 brands available nationwide, only two percent is being distributed in the U.S. How to select and recommend Japanese sake from these available brands is the challenge for restaurants in the near future.

How to select sake brands according customer segment and prices
Although Japanese sake is popular, it’s not effective to offer popular sake brands indiscriminately. Doing so could invite potential problems with quality management, leading to possible complaints by customers, thus caution is advised.

Review average customer spending
First, let’s review how to select Japanese sake brands and price setting according to the restaurant’s average customer spending. If customer spending is approximately $25, the average for a full dining restaurant, the food ratio is approximately 80% with drinks (including non-alcoholic) is approximately 20%. (The higher the customer spending, the higher the drink ratio, while decrease in customer speeding tends to decrease drink ratio also) If customer spending is high in a restaurant, it’s possible to offer high-priced Japanese sake by the bottle, while restaurants with low customer spending best consider selling high quality Japanese sake by the glass to lowering prices.

Also, offering a wide range of sake brands slows turnover rate, leading to quality management problems. Therefore, limiting the number of sake brands sold by the glass and thorough staff training is necessary. Sake samplers with dishes sold in sets are recommended to encourage customers to sample sake casually.

Appropriate markup of Japanese sake depends on the restaurant, with many setting the price from 2 to 2.5 times the purchase price. However, for high quality Japanese sake priced at over $50 for 720 ml bottles, pricing at 1.5~ 2 times the purchase price, topped at 2.5 times the purchase price is appropriate.

When selling sake by the glass, costs vary drastically by offering from 720 ml or 1.8L bottles. No matter how high quality a sake brand is, any glass of sake priced over $25 for 5 oz. is difficult to approach for many customers. For restaurants where customer spending is approximately $25, prices for major sake brands set between $5 ~ $7 by the glass makes it easier for customers to sample.

Review customer segment
Brand selection also varies according to customer segments. For restaurants with many young customers not familiar with Japanese sake, sweet sake like nigori (unfiltered) sake is predominantly popular. Therefore, considering nigori-based cocktails for SAKE cocktail nights or happy hours is recommended.







#alljapannews #sake #Japanese #sommelier


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