Yes. Tokyo has vast greenery and nature, but I’m sure you knew that already. I had gotten a private invite in the mail a few weeks ago for a drinking party in Ome, a vast swath of countryside located about two hours outside of central Tokyo. The meet up was with a group of long time sake buddies I used to hang out with around Fussa and Nakano. A few times a year we all get-together and enjoy watching a local folk tradition somewhere in Tokyo, or we head to a sake convention for some good drinks and eats. It was good seeing all of them again and having an amazing BBQ and soba making party.
The post will highlight a few points I want to make about sake, food, and women, but before that I want to explain a little about Soba ( buckwheat noodles), which for the most part are imported from other countries. Only the local artisan grows his own buckwheat and makes his own soba by hand here in Japan. It took me awhile to get the hang of it. Like making bread, the buckwheat flour has to be kneaded and compressed into a ball. Making sure to use copious amounts of flour the ball of dough has to be flattened and compressed by hand first before using the stick to roll it out. Making soba is not easy. I had a try making my own soba and it came out rather disastrous. The key to making good soba is to not be afraid of the dough, and to use nice even strokes. If you have long nails cut them. I watched two masters at work making soba and I was impressed at the level of skill and dedication these guys had.
The morning we arrived on site it was a bit chilly and slightly humid. Lucky for us the owner of the place already had two large fires burning for us so that we could warm our hands before we started making and cooking our food. In order to warm our insides we had warm sake made by a traditional Japanese style kondoku, an all metal contraption used for heating Japanese sake. The “sumi” or petrified wood that was used to heat the sake gave off a smell that was so nostalgic in a way that felt like I was sent back hundreds of years in the past. That smell mixed in with the smell of sweet rice wine was so Japanese for me.
On the grill there were bamboo roots that had been slow cooking for hours and hours, and it too smelt very surreal. You do not have to drink your sake very hot to enjoy it, warm is fine. Actually, either is fine. “nurukan- warm” “atsukan - hot.” There were dozens of Tokyo sake on our table. For an in depth look at sake brewed in Tokyo click on the link. Make no mistakes, Tokyo has really good water and sake, unfortunately popular opinion sees sake coming from only certain prefectures, hopefully this view will change in time.
Women always make a party brighten up. Their cheerful and playful nature mixes with the nostalgia and turns a boring event into something exciting and memorable. All of the lovelies were sake drinkers which only added to the fun. We had so much meat and vegetables. I haven't had that much beef in a long time and all of it was good. As a matter of fact, the ladies were pretty strong at drinking. We had four 1.8 liter bottles of sake and a few yongobins ( 720ml), and nothing was leftover afterwards. There was only one can of beer on the table which nobody drank.
With great sake and soba you have to have delicious tempura. We had boxes of it and all of it was freshly fried hot and readily served in copious amounts. One point I want to make about an essay I wrote about here which highlights a particular tree called the Angelica Tree that is enjoyed as a delicacy here in Japan.
Again, the beer was half empty the whole time and nobody touched it. I love eating and drinking with like minds. One virtue I have always lived by is that no matter where in the world you choose to live, if you have good women(sex), good food, good sake, and good sleep your life will be full and complete anywhere.
As a finisher we all ate Kusaya, the most horrible fish in the world. Click on the link to read the wikipedia. I almost puked because it’s like eating fish & shit on stick. Absolutely the worst taste for me, but at least I tried it twice and made a good go of it. It is said that if you can eat this fish you are a true Japanese.