The First Sake (making) Challenge

Hatched, one autumnal evening, in the basement of SO – probably Soho’s finest contemporary Japanese dining house. Hidden in London’s Warwick Street, four hungry mortals, feasted on the new season’s plump mackerel sushi – “Saba-no-Bozushi”, washed down with a bottle of fabulous prosecco. As ever, there is never enough (the bubbly, I mean). I gingerly whipped out the bottle of homemade rice-wine, knowing this humble offering would be competing with that bottle of Bartolomiol DOCG. Four clean glasses and an ice bucket appeared. More food arrived. We eagerly anticipate while the ubiquitous bottle chills gently. At last, tasting portions poured.

The moment of truth. Hama-san, in delight exclaims, “SAKE, SAKE”…. not quite “Eureka” but good enough for me and so the event was born….

A firm fixture is set in the calendar.

A wonderful evening commencing with a toast of thanks to Riccardo for the pre-dinner glass of delicately delicious Prosecco Riccardo Treviso. Chilled to Japanese perfection (of course) teasing the palate before a hard night’s work of tasting and judging 15 bottles of sake style rice-wine. Traditional Japanese dishes to accompany the sakes.

A bottle of  “Everybody’s” sake, made at the group demonstration (8 weeks earlier) was also entered. Challengers included (in alphabetical order):
  • Hideki Asano
  • Marie Cheong
  • Tetsuro Hama
  • Jun Hirakawa
  • Sue Hunt
  • Machiko Jinto
  • Satsuki Kurisawa
  • Naoko Ozaki
  • Kaoru Takaishi
  • Akemi Yokoyama


sakesgalore.jpg The bottles entered in the challenge.

Menu of the evening:



Fresh oyster with daikon, garnished with a single sprig of raw samphire or sea asparagus. A delicate plump morsel, marinaded in grated daikon. So fresh, you could almost taste the sea. Matched perfectly with the Prosecco Treviso.




Pairing of a piece each of tofu and cheese in tempura batter. Yin-Yang, East-West. A lovely palate teaser of eastern “cheese” and western cheese, delicately dipped in tempura batter and deep fried to perfection. Crisp on the outside, flavour filled on the inside. The soy dressing just balanced and complemented the different texture and taste of each cube.





A two fold tasting of tuna carpaccio, a brush of olive paste with chive dressing and a light pastry straw with homemade smoked salmon cream cheese with keta (salmon caviar).





A hen’s egg filled with a pickled plum stuffed steamed rice mochi. Topped with a single egg yolk delicately marinaded in a miso mixture.


Tonburi & avocado salad.

Seeds of Kochia scoparia eaten as a food garnish called tonburi. A delicacy (chinmi) of Akita prefecture. Its texture is similar to caviar.





Sushi platter including nigiri of squid and prawn with gari (pickled ginger). Uramaki with salmon, seaweed and avocado.















The sake champion of 2010 with the prized bottle of  Cartizze



A big thank you to Riccardo Tomadin who so kindly sponsored the Prosecco Riccardo and the prize bottle of Cartizze to the overall champion sake maker. Also a massive thank you to SO rsetaurant for making this event possible.

All proceeds from the demonstration evening (Oct10) and a proportion of profit from the dinner was donated to Kids for Kids.


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