Umami Mart Registry

A Visit to Kinshihai Brewery

Sake is one of those things that really makes you appreciate locality. It's like the meyer lemons in Berkeley. It's totally cliche and played out, but local food traditions are a sight to behold. The fact that they are native to their land, makes...

A Visit to Aoki Brewery in Niigata

Kayoko and I go to Niigata every February. Our friends in Tokyo gasp in horror, "Why would you go somewhere so cold? In the middle of February?" The reason is kind of simple: it's low season and getting around is cheap and less crowded. And...

Akio Watanabe of Bar EST! (Tokyo)

Looking back on our trip to Japan in February, the most memorable cocktail was at Bar EST!. A short distance from the Yushima train station in Tokyo, EST! is a dark, tavernous space filled with men drinking a scotch on the rocks and smoking cigarettes.

Tsuchi-yu Onsen Town in Fukushima

Japan is a country full of people who work hard and play hard. Many put in 60+ hours into the work week, not including the after hours drinking they are forced to join with their colleagues. But I'm happy to report that they rest hard too....

Togarashi Ginger Highball at Jicca (Tokyo)

As you know by now, Tori-chan is a dear friend of ours who opened Jicca, a restaurant and wine bar in the Hatagaya neighborhood in Tokyo nearly two years ago. She is a native of Minami-soma in Fukushima prefecture; a town that was...

An Afternoon in Fukushima City

If you try Googling "Fukushima" you'll get pages and pages of links with words like, "tragedy" "disaster" and "fear" in the title. This is simply fact. On March 11, 2011, Fukushima prefecture was home to an earthquake, then tsunami so devastating that it caused a massive...

Craft Beer Market in Tokyo

People in Japan are cuckoo for beer. It remains the most popular alcoholic beverage in Japan, accounting for two thirds of all alcohol consumed overall (says Wikipedia). When going out with friends or coworkers after work, it is an ongoing tradition for the table...

Postcard

Postcard from Japan: Kissaten Life

We are really enjoying the kissaten (cafe) lifestyle here in Japan and we have visited several in Tokyo and Fukushima during our travels. Unlike Starbucks or other branded coffee shops, kissaten are a place to unwind, have a smoke, sip a cup of joe and...

Meet Masako Ikegami of Bar Shake (Ginza)

We met the gracious Masako Ikegami in 2010, before we opened our shop in Oakland, at the Tokyo-SF Bartender Salon we helped host at Prizefighter. A few bartenders from Japan who had won the coveted Suntory Cocktail Award, presented cocktails and exchanged tricks of...

BARTENDER (バーテンダー)

Meet Ryu Sasakura, a dashingly handsome, deeply empathetic, incredibly talented bartender, back in Tokyo after a short stint in Paris. So starts off the captivating J-drama, BARTENDER, which aired in Japan in 2011 for a short eight episodes. I watched them all...

A Visit to Heuga Bar in Gifu City

Yoko and I first met bartender Tomokazu Kai in 2010, when we helped present an event with Suntory Whisky called the Tokyo-SF Bartender Salon. The event was held at Prizefighter bar in Emeryville and was meant to bring bartenders from Japan and the Bay...

Ukai: Cormorant Fishing in Gifu

Yoko and I were lucky enough to be invited to Gifu prefecture in central Japan to visit specific cities that are known for producing knives, ceramics and wood products, and tour their factories. We had a wonderful three days in different parts of Gifu, looking...