A few random questions I'm often asked.
I've decided to take a pilgrimage. This isn't easy for me since I don't speak much Japanese outside of restaurants and my “real” career is busier than ever, but I booked a trip to Japan this summer. In fact, I'm on Japan Airlines (JAL) flight #5 from JFK to Tokyo Narita as I write this. Planning this trip has been so daunting, I've only been able to tweet about it. I realized on my way to the airport that many of my friends didn't even realize I was going. A text from our graphic designer read, “Hey man, plans today?” I replied, “Heading to Japan.” He replied, “Hot damn. When you back?”
Kumesen was our first Awamori. We'd read about these unique Okinawan spirits and were drawn to the artfully drawn lion-god on the stout bottle. As our first, it still stands up as what we expect from the style, though we've come to learn that Awamori can be as diverse and complex as single malt scotch. There is no one flavor that captures the essence of these full bodied, traditionally distilled spirits.
Kusu, or old spirit, is an Okinawan Awamori aged at least 3 years. According to Japanese law the youngest spirit in the bottle must be at least 3 years old - Awamori producers have a long history of mixing older spirits with younger spirits as the older spirits are consumed.
What could be better to start out Spring than a virtual trip to Okinawa? The beautiful islands in the Pacific Ocean off the southern coast of Japan? Unfortunately for New Yorkers, since Suibi in Midtown East closed a few years back, Okinawan food is not easily available. Fortunately for New Yorkers, some Okinawa lovers have persisted and they have decided to put on an Okinawan festival.
Most Americans have heard of Okinawa. There's been an American military base on the main island since the end of World War II. However, Okinawa as part of Japan is a relatively recent phenomenon. For centuries Okinawa was its own country, a cluster of hundreds of islands off the southern coast of Japan, stretching to within a few kilometers of the island nation of Taiwan. A rich culture with its on language, monarchy, economy, and culture. It was not and even today is not "Japanese". As a result of this long history of independence Okinawa has its own food & drink traditions. And that's what we're really interested in here at Kampai!