Hamamatsu-Tenjingura have come up with a new label for their kome/rice shochu “Doman”, the name of a rare crab found exclusively in Hamana Lake!
“Douman” is the name of a very rare crab of fairly large proportions exclusively caught in Summer in Lake Hamana, Shizuoka Prefecture.
Fishermen will be lucky if they manage to find 2 or 3 specimen caught in their nets in a single day for the whole lake!
It has become one of the symbols of the area as demonstrated by the rice/kome shochu of the same name brewed by Hamamatsu-Tenjingura Brewery/Distillery in Hamamatsu City.
Consequently only a few privileged establishments may serve it from time to time.
One such place is Suehiro-Hamanako No Megumii Aji Sushi Restaurant, a little secret place of mine.
As introduced in other articles, it is tucked away from the city bustle south of Hamamatsu JR Station.
I make a point to reserve a seat or two before I visit them as hey will make sure to keep a bottle of Shizuoka Sake just for me.
Last Friday, they just happened to have an excellent bottle from a favourite Brewery of mine, namely Hatsukame in Okabe Cho.
That particular brand, called “Fujisan”, is a honjozo made with rice from Toyama Prefecture and yeast from Shizuoka Prefecture, perfect in summer with sushi and seafood!
Light food was on order as it had been an excessively hot day now that the rainy season is finally off our heads.
Pickled myoga, and ham and avocado salad were perfect with the first couple of glasses of chilled sake.
With a kitchen conveniently closed away, Suehiro has the knack to serve the right mixture of sashimi, sushi and cooked fare which ensures you will not leave the place worrying about a still empty stomach.
Mind you, this is an expat notion which does not count for the Japanese habit to visit at least two or three different places in the same night.
We opted for some akami/lean tuna and suzuki/seabass sashimi and a plate of Hamana Lake prawns deep-fried inside Spring rolls.
Finally we were ready for the Douman Crab!
My friend took the opportunity to order a glass of shochu of the same name while I gamely took care of the sake.
In Hamamatsu City they just serve it steamed as it is without any dressing or seasoning.
And our half (can you imagine the price of a whole one?) did not need any whatsoever. It came very full of so soft, tasty, even sweet meat that you naturally take your time savouring a little at a time with chopsticks. Forbid a fork or spoon!
I’m afraid this will be my first and last time I experience such a delicacy. That is unless Suehiriro calls me (and other customers?) next time they chance upon one (two would be impossible, so do not plan a party!)
We still hjad one more morsel before we left for the Liquid Kitchen, a bar held by a cricket friend of mine: Hamana Lake anago/conger eel and ikura/salmon roe sushi.
As this restaurant always comes up with local delicacies on a purely seasonal basis, I wonder what will compel me to visit it again!
SUEHIRO-HAMANAKO NO MEGUMII AJI
Hamamatsu City, Naka Ku, suyama Cho, 360-6
Business Hours: 11:30-13:30＆17:00-22:00
Closed on every Wednesday and second Tuesday
Hana no Mai Brewery/Distillery in Hamamatsu City makes some extravagant kome/rice shochu with either the rice powder left after milling Yamada Nishiki rice (they grow themselves) or with the sake kasu/white lees of their sake.
Rice: Yamada Nishiki (Shizuoka strain) residual powder after millage
Clarity: very clear
Aroma: Sharpish. Rice, alcohol, green tea, melon
Taste: Soft on the tongue, almost sweet.
Shortish tail. Green tea, green melon.
Easy to drink.
Overall: Easy to drink. Elegant.
Can be de drunk straight or on the rocks.
Great mixed with hot green tea!
On a beautiful cold day on Friday, February 29th, I met Matthew (Matt) Ryan, an Australian resident in Hamamatsu City with my student, Mika Sakurai, at the JR Station to honour an invitation by Mr. Yasuo Nakamura to visit his Brewery.
An extraordinarily affable gentleman, he is the 6th generation-owner of Hamamtsu Brewery founded in 1871 by his ancestor Goroshichi (the name of one of extravagant rice shochu) Nakamura.
Actually Nakamura was the original name of the Brewery until they absorbed other breweries in 1953 and changed their name to Hamamatsu Brewery (under Government orders).
Mr. Nakamura’s father, who opened a beer hall some 20 years ago, finally was allowed thanks to a change of law to create a beer brewery on the same premises in 1998. His son started producing kome/rice shochu in 2003, and umeshu 1n 2005. This year saw the brewing of their first “yamahai” sake, a brand of very traditional sake hard to find anywhere (only 3 more breweries presently produce it in Shizuoka Prefecture), and quite a labour of love.
Another first, and in this case for the whole Shizuoka Sake World, a 28-years old lady, Ms. Miwa Masui, is in charge of the brewing from this very year! (I don’t really know how to call her as there is no femnine form for Master Brewer!) Although I’m extremely proud of my male gender, I do think this is great news, proving that some establishments are willing to work along the times!
I can hear Melinda and Etsuko rejoicing! (Why don’t you come down to Hamamatsu? It will a great pleasure to accompany you!)
We were granted the “real” visit ( a very personal one indeed, as “tourists” are certainly not allowed within the “heart” of the brewery!) and my two friends assailed poor Mr. Nakamura who had just enough time to explain along with my interpreting.
We were lucky to be shown the process for the last batch of “yamahai” (after that, they will start brewing beer while continuing producing shochu, umeshu and other liqueurs) and appreciate the texture and flavour of the rice before a peek into the “koji muro” (fermenting chamber).
When we took a peek at the sake fermenting in one of the vats, Mr. Nakamura had to point out to enthusiastic Matt not to fall inside as he was eagerly looking into its entrails, or that would the his end on this world (it did happen in Japan recently to an unfortunate individual who met his final demise by accidentally falling inside such a vat!)!
Hamamatsu Brewery is a very well organized company at everylevel. Not only they produce sake, shochu, liqueurs and beer, but you can even use their event space for private enterprises from weding to private rock concerts!
Now, their kome/rice shochu are an extravagant affair!
They are exclusively made from “sake kasu”/white lees distilled as soon as produced.
I know a lot of people in Kyushu who will have to revise some of their views if hey are given the chance to taste them!
Their shop is a must in itself, and I can assure you that you will be embarrassed by the choice of goods on display, that incidentally you can pay with a credit card, a very rare occurence in this very traditional world!
Tenjingura/Hamamatsu Brewery Co. Ltd.
430-463-3851 Hamamatsu City, Naka Ku, Tenjin Machi, 3-57
Business hours: 10:30~21:00
Closed on Tuesdays
Catering: Lunch & Dinner (dinner course on reservation)
Visits: Sake and beer breweries visits on reservation.
Hamamatsu Distillery, also known for its sake brands Tenjigura and Shusseijo produce quite extravagant kome/rice shochu from the whilte lees of its sake brewing.
Ingredients: Rice, rice yeast
Aroma: elegant, ricey, sweet. Hint of pears and bananas.
Body: almost velvety
Taste: fruity/ricey. Almost sweet. Complex. Lingers like an old lover.
Overall: Elegant shochu. Should be drunk on its own or with ice. I would not mix with anything. Too precious for that! A shochu that can be appreciated by all genders and ages!