Konnichiwa! My name is Chika! I am from Iwate, Japan. I am a sake lover, a food lover, and a mother of a cat named Draymond.
When I lived in Tokyo, people asked me where I was from and they always said, "Oh you are from Iwate. That means you must be a drinker!" When I was growing up, Iwate sake was everywhere for any occasion: weddings, farewell parties, funerals, etc. You would drink sake with company and share the moments of happiness/sadness together. Sake is something that unites friends and family and makes bonds tighter. That's what I was taught and that's what I still believe.
My hobbies are cooking, checking out bars and restaurants, traveling, playing the piano and ukulele. I love food, especially Japanese cuisine. I've earned Japanese Cuisine Adviser Certificate Level 2 in 2022.
I am a big sports fan. I used to be a ski instructor. I also like to play tennis and go disc golfing, as well as watch football and basketball games. Before True Sake, I worked at travel agencies and restaurants (mostly fine dining, including Japanese, French, and Chinese).
I am excited to talk about sake and food pairings with you!
↑With Taiheikai bottle (photo by our intern Ayumi-chan!)
This store is filled with great sake, but if I have to choose, here are my picks (updated 6/16/22):
Taiheikai Tokubetsu Junmai "Pacific Ocean" - From Ibaraki. It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that this bottle changed my career. I was not a fan of sake until I tried this sake few years ago. I thought someone poured me an unknown delicious alcohol that was not sake. It's got lightly spritzy texture with a champagne-like mouthfeel and brightness, but the flavor is more ricey rather than fruity. And here I am working at the first American sake store surrounded by 300 kinds of sake! I would pair with: Oysters, clam chowder, and yakitori. Occasion: Everyday casual drinking and parties.
Toko Junmai Daiginjo "Ultraluxe" - From Yamagata. I still remember my very first sip of this sake. I said, "Wow, WHAT IS THIS?" A juicy and bright beginning takes you through a journey of flavors of pear, rice, with a peppery finish. I would like to drink this while looking at a sunset before dinner. Such a fantastic luxurious bottle. Don't forget to treat yourself sometimes! I would pair with: Sushi omakase, pork chops, or by itself with a sunset. Occasion: "Treat-Ya-Self Day", or any day!
Akabu Junmai Daiginjo - From Iwate, my home! A lot of you guys might have tried Akabu Junmai already (If you have not, please do!! And yes, those two bottles both have red samurai on the label and they do look alike but different sake!) This is an elegant version of the Junmai. If their Junmai is a playful lively young samurai, this is its older brother gentleman samurai. This fantastic delicious Daiginjo is somewhat thick, bold, expressive but yet soft, kind, and entertaining. Akabu is getting harder and harder to find in Japan right now because they are so good! Their brews showcase the results of their hard work. I would pair with: Sushi, French cuisine, seafood tomato pasta. KILLER PAIRING: Ankimo, foie gras. Occasion: Omakase sushi, celebration, gift, nomikai with sake lovers.
Aizu Chujo Junmai Ginjo - From Fukushima. Fantastic bottle with so much fruity aromas and flavors, but does not drink sweet because it has some minerality. It's simply delicious! Fukushima's local rice called "Yume no Kaori" and their local yeast called "Utukushima Yume Kobo" was used for this bottle. Also a fun fact: the Toji (brewmaster) of this brewery is female! I would pair with: Shellfish like hotate, amaebi, and crab, bruschetta, salad with sherry vinaigrette, sea salt. Occasion: Weekend dinner. Sake/wine tasting with cool friends.
Kamoizumi 18-Year Aged Koshu "Sachi" -From Hiroshima. This awesome bottle was brewed in 1997, which is 4 years after I was born. I never thought I would get to try a sake that is as old as me, and I never thought I would love that kind of sake.... until this bottle proved me wrong! This is unbelievable! The funkiness and deepness of its flavor is like smoky wood, shiitake mushroom, dark cocoa and savory umami. These flavors are the gifts from the years that the sake has been aging. It drinks dry surprisingly, thick, yet kind. My favorite temperature of this bottle is room temp... the flavors get calmed, mellow and harmonious. Never tried Koshu before? You should try this if you are: adventurous, open-minded, or an aged whisky lover. I would pair with: Prime rib with mushroom gravy, creme brûlée. Occasion: Bonfire, late night sipping. #chika_loves_koshu
Katsuyama Junmai Ginjo "Lei" -From Miyagi. Finally, let's talk about delicious sweet sake that has no sweetness or anything added. I've been selling sake for years at restaurants and True Sake, and I found that people are scared of the words "sweet sake." But I would like to encourage you to try this sometime. This sake made me fall in love with sake once again. The fact that they created amazing fruity flavors and natural sweetness out of just rice and water is unbelievable. Enjoy this amazing sake at any temperature; however, my favorite temperature is WARM. Having this warm is expressive yet delicate. Lei reminds me of fresh and warm "Melon-Pan" (melon bread) that I used get from food trucks in Japan when I was a child. Are you a dessert wine fan? You know you will like this bottle already! I would pair with: foie gras, ankimo, fruits salad, vanilla ice cream. Occasion: dessert, cold day.
Drinking sake is such a fun journey. Just like the warmed Kameizumi Cel 24 and Aged Koshu Sachi bottles taught me, it is full of surprises and it always helps me find a new side of myself. I've been trying to stay open and adventurous to fully enjoy this journey, so I would suggest you to do so too! If you have any concerns or questions, please call us to let us help you for your sake journey!
@chika_loves_food is where I share my stories with sake and food! Cheers!
↑Me with big smile after Koshu tasting
The front label on this sake is a traditional back of the bottle label with all of the pertinent info you’ll ever need. The nose on this brew is a ...View full details
Junmai Daiginjo Fukurotsuri$133.00
At long last Toko is available in the US and that is great news. The nose on this incredibly luxurious sake is a special collection of sweet rice, ...View full details
The nose on this delicious northern brew is a cool collection of grape, blueberry, green apple, kiwi, Asian pear, and sweet tomato aromas. Snap! Th...View full details
The nose on this sake made with Yumenokaori brewing rice milled to 55% is a fresh collection of blueberry, melon, pear, plum, and bubblegum aromas....View full details
Junmai Ginjo Koshu$100.00
The nose on this “Koshu” or aged sake that was brewed in 1997 and uses two different rice and yeast varietals has a stunning nose filled with raisi...View full details
The nose on this professional sake is a vast collection of grape, banana bread, rock candy, caramel, tangerine, lemon soda, ripe pear, and sweet ri...View full details