migaki
The first thing you notice about Window's Migaki and its sister shochu Window's Mugiichi is the "window" of the bottle with artwork by artist Ichiro Tsuruta. Our photo doesn't really do this artwork justice (her face isn't crooked). Don't let the pretty packaging fool you (with many wines the artistry of the label is directly inversely related to the quality of the product inside). Window's Migaki is a barrel aged barley shochu (Mugiichi is this same shochu unaged) of the highest quality. Read More...
chicken soba soup
Otafuku Noodle House is on a nondescript street in an average working class neighborhood in South Los Angeles. The only hint that it might be a good place to eat or drink comes from the smattering of other “authentic” Japanese landmarks in the area. There's another soba house on the corner, the Okinawa Association of America headquarters across the street (a grandiose title for a windowless single story building), and Marukai Pacific Market a few blocks away – a massive Japanese grocer. Read More...
hondaya akachochin
Izakaya Honda Ya is a gem in an unlikely place. It sits on the 3rd floor of a shopping mall in Little Tokyo just east of Downtown LA. When the taxi dropped us off we thought we had the wrong address. There's nothing on the outside to suggest an izakaya awaits inside, but we went into the mall full of closed up boutiques, and took the escalators to the 2nd floor. From there we saw the neon Kirin Beer sign and a gaudy neon “open” sign beckoning to us from the level above. Read More...
godai
This odd label includes a sketch of a Japanese man. It would be easy enough to mistake his rough, jowly visage for that of a sumo wrestler, but it is, in fact, the last samurai, Saigo Takamori. He wasn't truly the last samurai, but he was the leader of the Satsuma Rebellion, which was the last stand of the samurai class against the modern Japanese imperial army in 1877. Read More...
jidai-edited
Jidai Kurahachi, with its lovely rice paper label, is an uncompromising rice shochu, foregoing the smooth light taste that many kome shochu strive for while attempting to deliver a robust, rich taste using black koji and clay pot aging. It was worth the effort. Read More...
amamikokuto
Like other kokuto shochus, Amami lacks the distinct scents of some other styles of shochu, but a delicate scent of molasses does appear with patience. Overt molasses flavors hit the palate immediately, though this is better described as a black sugar flavor. The full richness of the black sugar is present before the sweetness invades followed by an unexpected dryness, likely thanks to the mineral rich aquifer in the Amami islands. Read More...

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