Sake No Hana has fast become my favourite Japanese restaurant and as such the willowy brunette and I ventured forth for a Sake Master class, which was held there a couple of weeks ago.
Willowy brunette declared that she had never even tasted sake previously but was ready for anything. We arrived at 10.15 at Sake No Hana , which is on St. James in London. We were introduced to our two teachers, Christine Parkinson who is the head of wine for the Hakkasan group ( Sake no Hana is part of this group) and Anthony Rose, a former solicitor turned wine correspondent for the Telegraph. Both of them have been exploring all things Sake for the last ten years or so and have been judges at the Sake tastings in Japan.
Sake is basically Rice and water, the process is probably no more complicated than Whisky or Rye or Vodka. Three quarters of all Sake made is of the FUTSU type, ie. the basic type of Sake. 22 % is of premium quality, 7 % of better premium and only 3% is of the top quality Sake. Hence the best Sake is fairly expensive. The better sake is made from rice that has had a larger % of rice polished. in its making.
An off shoot or rather an unexpected bonus for sake makers, is because traditionally they mush the fermenting brew around with their hands, the skin on their hands is almost like that of a new-born. Consequently there are now many beauty products on the Japanese markets, using by products from sake .
During our morning lesson we tasted about 8 different sakes, including a sparkling one, which we all tried to classify in our own minds. Tizer was one description and Babycham was another.
Needless to say, there is a whole industry as well as tradition surrounding everything Sake and below are just a few such items.
Then we were treated ( again) to the very special Sakura Menu, this is the menu created to celebrate Cherry Blossom season in Japan. It was the same menu as I had tasted previously, but this time I chose the Salmon ( the beef was better in my opinion) and the brunette chose the Tempura. We were served several more different Sakes with each course and so by the time lunch and Sake master class were over, I needed to go home for a snooze!!