Where do I begin with this magical place? Honestly, it begins with Enzo calling me one night from Gozen asking if he/we can splurge on a Sake bottle. I usually do, is what I was thinking. Daiginjo Sake is the bar I set for Sake and prices are high and well worth the money. What else was there? Well, well, well…leave it to Enzo to discover an entire new level of Sake and Sake making. Premium level. Who knew?
With great excitement, Enzo booked a dinner reservation the following week and I got to enjoy a night with my two sons, Enzo and Dante. Lucky, lucky, lucky.
Firstly, Shota-san at Gozen made the evening. Enzo and Shota had bonded upon his previous visit and Shota was waiting for us at the front door upon our arrival. Enthusiastic, Innocent, Knowledgeable, Respectful and an amazing and patient guide. If you go, it’s an absolute MUST he be your waiter and guide.
Dinner is traditional Kaiseki. There were plenty of highs, a couple of lows and mostly a solid meal.
But would you go here for just the food? Probably not. It’s the Sake that is mind blowing. It is a Japanese Sake Bistro.
During the brewing process, the exterior of the rice shell is removed. How much of what is removed determines how great the sake is. Hence, Daiginjo being the best. You will find this level at most reputable Japanese restaurants.
But at Gozen, there are bottles that are NOT on the menu and are extremely hard to procure. Shota takes painstaking time in locating them…one of one bottle(s) found in the world.
Enthusiastically, Shota brings out six sake bottles encased in boxes. He begins to describe the making of each sake. I chose 2 bottles for the three of us to try. The first one being their very finest. Holy Shit…I am paying for what I’d pay at a fine dining restaurant for an amazing old bottle of Bordeaux or Burgundy. This is sake…Crazy? Maybe, but we took the plunge.
Watching Shota open the first bottle was thrilling. His heart and face exploding with joy upon inhaling the aroma of the cork.
At first sip, of the Jyuyondai, I couldn’t quite believe what I was tasting. I had to dive back in and was transported to the South of France. If blindfolded, I couldn’t tell you I was drinking sake. A light, French wine with a hint of sweet florals. Elegant. Sake? No way! This was heavenly.
Enzo, Dante and I couldn’t believe what we were experiencing and we carefully nursed this through our Kaiseki. We learned that a lot of daiginjo is polished by machinery. This, Jyuyondai was all done by hand. Hence, the price tag but more importantly the care with which this is processed is unbelievable. It takes sake making entirely to a new level. A premium level. It is high art and you can taste it, feel it.
The second bottle I chose was the Black Dragon…c’mon with that name how could you go wrong? This maker studied wine making in France for years before he went to Japan and cultivated his Sake. The bottle is gorgeous as is his sake.
With this bottle I could taste both France and Japan. Wine from grapes and wine from rice. A perfect blend and balance of both cultures. Outstanding!
The sake experience was so astounding that I have framed a couple of the bottles for they are surely memorable.
A couple of food mentions: We had to order the Uni twice. Amazing.
The Tuna Handroll was perfection: we should have ordered this again.
I am a huge fan of eel and this was outstanding. Probably the best Chawanmushi I’ve ever had. Enzo concurs. Steamed food in a cup. Seconds? How about thirds?
We loved dessert. Excellent Mochi and a beautifully presented matcha green tea tiramisu.
Honestly, I am a little reluctant to tell you to go enjoy and experience these one-of-a-kind sakes. Because, the supply is limited and I want to have them whenever we venture back. But that wouldn’t be very nice. Go, Enjoy! Take your savings account…it’s worth it!