Most Americans have heard of Okinawa. There's been an American military base on the main island since the end of World War II. However, Okinawa as part of Japan is a relatively recent phenomenon. For centuries Okinawa was its own country, a cluster of hundreds of islands off the southern coast of Japan, stretching to within a few kilometers of the island nation of Taiwan. A rich culture with its on language, monarchy, economy, and culture. It was not and even today is not "Japanese". As a result of this long history of independence Okinawa has its own food & drink traditions. And that's what we're really interested in here at Kampai! Read More...
Part of what's fascinating about exploring shochu is that each distiller has their own approach to reaching flavor. The general rule is that if you want a smooth, mellow shochu you look for a shochu made with low pressure distillation and white koji. That combination is going to give you a very mellow shochu no matter what base grain is used. Conversely, a black koji and atmospheric distillation shochu is going to maximize flavors, create all sorts of complexity that many drinkers either love or hate. Where things start to get very interesting are in the middle. Read More...
Date Shochu
By "the date shochu" we don't mean a shochu that's good to drink when you're on a date, though that may be true as well. We mean a shochu made from dates. In fact, Tenpo is the only shochu made from dates. That puts it pretty far afield from the usual shochu grains - sweet potato, barley, or rice. It's also one of the only genshu (undiluted) shochus available in the U.S. As expected, the 36% alcohol is much more present than with diluted shochus. Further complicating this already interesting shochu is the aging process. Read More...
Throughout the Kampai! izakaya reviews you'll notice frequent mention of "bottle keep" - a common izakaya service allowing customers to leave behind unfinished bottles of shochu for future visits. It's a great business strategy, encouraging more drinking and eating - once you've ordered a bottle you're more likely to stay longer - and more frequent visits since you'll return to finish that last bottle (and likely order another to keep again). Read More...
As you climb the stairs you hear the buzz of happy diners. More than likely before you reach the top of the stairs you're met with a line of waiting customers, red Kirin lanterns hanging overhead. Squeeze to the top and you enter the large multi-roomed dining hall of Village Yokocho. Read More...
Oak barrel aging has become a popular process as shochu producers experiment with different aging techniques to give their shochus unique flavor profiles. Kannoko and Ginza no Suzume Kohaku have full flavored profiles thanks to this aging process and are popular mugi shochus, particularly among whiskey drinkers. Kakushigura uses this process as well, but with a slightly different approach. Read More...

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