Sip sake at Masu


It’s sake month at Masu, on Auckland’s Federal Street. Restaurateur and sake enthusiast Nic Watt has imported five very special sakes for the occasion.

I developed a taste for sake during a two-week tour of Japanese Sake breweries (the photo illustrating this blog is one I took of Mr Masuda, owner of Tsuki-No-Katsura sake brewery). Each evening we would dine at up to three restaurants during my tour (mostly only two restaurants). I was keen to find out which wine or wines went best with Japanese food. Sake was a clear winner, although within the sake family some were better than others.

The range of sakes at Masu includes the ultra-rare “Tanaka 65”, which Watt believes is one of the most sought-after and highly regarded sake in Japan.

“Tanaka is a unique producer who sells out of his special sake every year before it is released,” said Watt. “These are some of the greatest sakes available and we are proud to be able to give MASU customers a unique opportunity to taste and enjoy them this spring.”

Watt adds,

“Hanami, meaning flower viewing, is the traditional Japan-wide custom of enjoying the transition to spring by observing the sakura – the cherry blossom. It’s a significant time of year in Japanese culture so we wanted to mark spring with something special.”

Here are the five sakes listed with comments by “Sake Samurai” Sam Harrop MW.

  • Juogura (Ibaraki) – High quality. An easy-drinking, moderate umami flavour.
  • Tanaka-Rokujugo (Fukuoka) – One of the most sought-after brands in Japan. The brewery is located in Fukuoka prefecture, which is in southern Japan. Restrained, pristine and transparent, dry, medium weight and a tight palate texture.Producer Tanaka remains true to family traditions in everything he does, from hand-writing the labels in calligraphy himself to using a traditional ‘squeeze’ method (called Haneki Shibori) to extract the sake with timber and stones, a very slow process that produces maximum flavour.
  • Toyo-Bijin (Yamaguchi) – This sake is adopted regularly as a sake which is served in official VIP dinners or receptions in Japan. The maker accomplishes “the expression of pure water passed through the rice.” Abundant fruity aromas, perfumed, banana-scented, semi-sweet but light finish. Yamaguchi Prefecture is located at the western end of Japan.
  • Nechi-Otokoyama (Niigata) – The sake expresses the terroir of Nechi Valley in Niigata Prefecture. It’s sought-after and produced by rare brewery, which mostly cultivates chemical-free rice. Medium intensity of aromas, well-balanced fruitiness and a touch of savouriness and dryness.
  • Hanahato (Hiroshima) – An aged sake that’s a gold medal winner in the International Wine Challenge (IWC) 2014. Nutty, spicy, dried fruit, abundant complexity providing long length, full bodied.

Masu is offering a full flight of all five sakes at NZD $36.50 for 30ml measures.

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