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...
kappa
What's in a name? It helps to understand the origins of Kappa No Sasoi Mizu, which is literally translated to "Kappa pump priming", but more subtly refers to the allure of the mythical Kappa, which will drown you if you come to close to the water (mizu). More subtly the Kappa is known to sometimes seduce women, which would explain this shochu most fully. Read More...
shiro1
There are not many junmai kuma-shochus available in the U.S. market. These are shochus made with polished Japanese rice, the same polishing process used in sake (nihon-shu) production. "Junmai" refers to rice that's been polished at least 70% (30% of the outer grain removed). Hakutake Shiro is made with rice polished to 60%. Only kome shochus produced in the Kuma River Valley can be designated as "kuma-shochu". Read More...

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