February sakes ship today for Sake Gumi, our monthly sake subscription club. If you like what's on deck here, you should join! This month at Umami Mart, we are celebrating our very first publication, a recipe zine titled Japanify All Day. It’s a compilation of 21 simple Japanese recipes that I created for home cooks. I started Japanify, a monthly blog column on Umami Mart’s website in 2010. Upon moving back to the Bay Area after five years of living in Tokyo, I wanted to document my food memories from Japan. These recipes were created using ingredients available to people in the U.S. Many, if not all, of the recipes I introduce in the zine pair well with sake. And the sakes I’m offering this month for the club are no exception. With the theme karakuchi, or “extra dry,” I have included my usual tasting and serving temperature notes, but also suggest which recipes in the zine will pair best with the sakes offered. Extra dry sakes can be refreshing when enjoyed cold and take the edge off after a long day when served warm. Because they are so versatile, extra dry sakes are good to have on hand in the fridge at any given time. Get a copy of the zine at the Oakland shop or online, and join us at our Japanify festivities this month: Japanify Zine Party at The Kebabery On Thursday, February 23, from 6–9 p.m., we’re throwing a ticketed zine release party at The Kebabery, the highly-anticipated new North Oakland restaurant from Camino’s Russell Moore, Allison Hopelain, and Brian Crookes. Japanify Zine Party at The Kebabery will include three drink tickets, and a plate of kebabs plus sides. Seats are limited to 50, so we encourage buying tickets early before they sell out. We will be featuring sakes from one of our favorite brewers, Ichinokura. Sake Gumi members get a limited edition Japanify sake pin for free at the event! Japanify All Day Party at Umami Mart On Saturday, February 25, we invite everyone to join us at Japanify All Day Party at Umami Mart, a celebration from 12-4 p.m. at our shop at 815 Broadway in Old Oakland. The first 50 customers who make a $5 minimum purchase will get a free copy of the zine! The party will feature J-Shack food truck and a limited-edition run of Japanify themed pins. This party is free! Kanpai, Yoko LEVEL 1: Introductory Membership (Two 300ml bottles) Sawanoi Junmai Daikarakuchi Ozawa Shuzo (Tokyo, Japan) Seimaibuai: 65% SMV: +10 With an SMV of +10 (a higher sake meter value suggests that a sake will taste dry) and the name "Daikarakuchi," or ”super dry,” know that you are getting yourself into a bottle of crisp, sharp, lemony sake. With a very light nose and a bone dry finish, this sake pairs well with acidic morsels like kimchi or corned beef. Japanify recipe pairing: Shio Koji Pickles. Enjoy chilled. Kagatobi Super Dry Yamahai Junmai Fukumitsuya Sake Brewery (Ishikawa, Japan) Seimaibuai: 65% SMV: +12 This sake smells like the aroma that fills the air of a sake brewery. The bouquet is full of sour yeast and ricey sake kasu (lees). I love this sake because it enters earthy but finishes clean. I am happy to include this under the extra dry theme, because it demonstrates that although it is a dry sake, it has a complex mouthfeel that is like a meal in itself. Enjoy this sake at room temperature with salty, savory foods. Japanify recipe pairing: Supaisu Nuttsu (Spiced Nuts) and Shisomaki. LEVEL 2: Premium Membership (Two 720ml bottles) Ryusei Junmai Daiginjo Fujii Sake Brewery (Hiroshima, Japan) Seimaibuai: 50% SMV: +5 Hailing from Hiroshima, this junmai daiginjo is not technically called a “dry” sake, but after a sip, its dryness is undeniable. Plus, with an SMV of +5, the stats prove that this sake will finish crisp. With apples on the nose, it expands upon entering the palate but quickly wraps up with a refreshing ending that is more fruity than ricey. Although this sake drinks like a light beverage, it has a higher than average ABV of 17%. Try this sake chilled with fresh salads, raw vegetables, and sashimi. Japanify recipe pairing: Magurozuke Don. Shintaro Junmai Karakuchi Hamakawa Shoten (Kochi, Japan) Seimaibuai: 50% SMV: +5 This complex, yet dry sake can be enjoyed chilled, at room temperature, or warm. Kayoko and I took a bottle of this sake to Kiraku (an izakaya in Berkeley) last month and shared a whole bottle (oops!) over shirako and fried chikuwa (fish cake). Notice the funny phrases on the bottle describing Shintaro Nakaoka, a political figure of the late 19th century, for whom this sake is named after. Japanify recipe pairing: Natto Toast.