Fukurou is the first US outpost of a Japanese izakaya chain, but you'd never guess this was a corporate location from the experience. It's a tiny space with a few counter seats and tables that are almost always reserved by Japanese patrons or foodies.
I've been advocating for an izakaya brunch in NYC since at least the summer of 2012 when Uminoie had a series of summer afternoon patio parties. I guess I've worn down the owners at SakaMai (157 Ludlow, LES), because they are now serving brunch 11:30-2:30 Saturday & Sunday.
Shochu Tuesdays have a new home at SakaMai. If you've been following the site for a while, you know that these started at Izakaya Ten back in 2008 when I first discovered shochu. The experience stuck with me and corrupted me in ways I didn't expect.
There are few places in New York City where you legitimately feel like you could be sitting in Tokyo. Most places are either too big or too small or the proportions of the space are just off in some subtle way. Perhaps there's a Latino bus boy or English signage. There's almost always something that gives away that we're in the U.S. At Tori Shin you have to look very, very closely and the evidence only appeared in early 2012.
Just the title of this piece strikes me as odd. What is a shochu drinking champion? Fortunately for our livers, it's not the person who can drink the most shochu, but rather the person who can successfully match the most shochus from memory. And last week saw the crowning of the 1st ever New York Shochu Contest champion. Before we get to the winner, let's talk a little bit about the 1st Annual Shochu & Awamori Tasting Contest. In the interest of full disclosure, I am not an impartial observer. I was also a contestant.
The Japanese External Trade Organization (JETRO) & the Japanese Sake & Shochu Makers Association (JSS) put on a pair of stellar events in New York City on February 12th & 13th. We've already raved about Shochu Night Out, but the next day (Monday, February 13th) was Experience Shochu at Astor Wines.