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11 November 2015

Experience: Kampachi Sake Tasting & Appreciating Session

Kampachi probably holds the most number of junmai sake labels than any other Japanese restaurants in our country.

But what the heck is a junmai?

A table setting fit for a noble!

It's basically sake made with just 3 ingredients - water, rice and koji (special fungus) with NO additional alcohol added. Any alcohol found in the sake is created naturally from the interaction between fungus and the rice.

Sakes with additional alcohol added will not have the word "junmai" in it. Now, doing this doesn't necessarily lower the quality of the sake, it does put it in a different category. In fact, some people like this version better as it usually produces a more aromatic and stronger sake - but junmai purists will have none of that, of course. :)

The different levels of polished rice used in for sake

So we were invited to check out Kampachi's sake tasting session, held in their Plaza 33, Petaling Jaya outlet.

Featuring a range of sakes to try at each session, you can taste it cold, hot and at room temperature if you wish - if possible ask to try them all. At each different temperature, the sake will smell and taste different. There is no right and wrong to what your preference is. And don't worry, in spite of what everyone may have told you, good sakes CAN be drunk hot. It's usually the "bad" ones that shouldn't be served hot - you'll know which shouldn't be drunk hot when all you smell is turpentine. :)

drink sake hot or cold - it's your choice!

In our session, the host began by briefly explaining how sake was made and the various types of sakes there were (the topic presented may differ from session to session). Then it's a free & easy session where we get to try (copious amounts of) the various sakes and pair it with the snacks in front of us. Officially, we had 4 to try at our session. Unofficially, we had more! 

If the host feels generous, you may get to taste other bottles too! At our session we tried at least 2 more :p

Officially set for 1.5 hours, but because it's so casual, easy, and fun, time went by so fast and before I knew it, it actually went on for about 2+ hours. So make sure to clear your appointments and don't hurry home!

My favourite was the junmai daijingo (typically means at least 50% of the rice was polished off, yes more wastage = more expensive). It was the most gentle, subtle, aromatic, smoothest of the lot  Sigh. I have expensive taste.

Refills are available while the bottle lasts - but do drink responsibly as you'll need get yourself home! It's too easy to forget about the going home bit when you're imbibing awesome sake, I know.

While it's usually hosted by the bar manager who is only too happy to make you happy, sometimes you may even get guests from the brewery & distilleries as well as sake masters or sommeliers to conduct these sessions too.

we learnt that top grade junmais typically use the sake cups on the left - there's a reason for this which escapes me for now.

Coming out of it, I think it's a perfect, casual session for people who want to try and compare a few sakes at a time without having to pay & commit to a full bottle. At RM82 nett per pax, it's a steal! Some sakes found in Isetan already cost more than that :P

Kampachi endeavours to host these tasting sessions every month. A little bird told me that we should be expecting at least 3 more sessions before the year ends. :)

These sessions are only available via RSVP and places snap out fast (as there are only 6 places a session) so do call +603 7931 6938 to make a booking.

Just in case you're wondering, Kampachi can organise customised or private tasting sessions upon request. Just give them a buzz to chat about it. Then remember to invite me okay! :D

For more info & to get updated on their upcoming tasting sessions here:

We had a wonderful time, as usual, Kampachi. Domo arigatou!

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