Ever since the time I first tasted Sake at the winter menu of Megu at The Leela Palace Hotel, New Delhi, I have become a fan of this drink. So when Tokyo was awarded the right to host the Olympics in 2020, I plan to discover this fast moving city through its famous drink.
What is Sake?
It is a rice wine that is made by a process of fermenting special rice after removal of the husk. The production of Sake is quite different from that of wine. In wine, the fermentation of sugar present in the grapes happens. But the fermentation process of Sake is pretty similar to that of beer where the starch from the rice is slowly broken down to sugars before fermenting. Although the clear liquid is pretty smooth on the palate, do keep in mind that it has 18-20% alcohol and gives quite a good kick.
Why Tokyo’s Sake?
One of the most important components of Sake is water. It is used to multiple steps right from washing of the grain to the dilution before bottling. The different minerals in the freshwater combines to create its taste profile. Tokyo’s production of this historical drink dates back to the early 17th century of the Edo period. Its clear groundwater with a high quantity of minerals leads to a beautiful combination of flavours on your palate. It combines with salty Soy based dishes so characteristic of the Edo period.
The beauty of this alcohol is in its multifaceted nature. Many of breweries produce Sake which is complementary to the food found around it. The light bodied one go perfect with lightly seasoned food and seafood while the heavy bodied ones go well with the heavily seasoned food. Some of these light bodied ones can also be found near the coastal areas while can be easily paired with the seafood.
Tour of Ozawa Brewery
But all the Sake knowledge cannot prepare you for a trip through the majestic Ozawa brewery. The brewery was established in 1702, a history dating back 300 years and is the oldest brewery in Tokyo. Although located within the city of Tokyo, the brewery offers you an insight into it’s preparation. The 45 minute guided tour gives you a low down on the different types of Sake. But the main attraction is the fresh spring water pouring in through the rock formation. Finish off with a tasting to complete your brewery tour.
Sake is a drink that can both be complex and simple at the same time. It typifies the beauty and captures the soul of Japan. So, next time you’re heading to Japan do try out Sake.
Hong Kong is one of the most awesome places to be during the new year. Although lot’s of people consider it for shopping purposes, we are suckers for the food of Hong Kong. The bustling street food culture that exists in Hong Kong is similar to that in India. With flavours derived from the Chinese mainland, the end result is a lot of changes that are specially adapted to the Indian palate. We tell you some of the dishes that you must try out while visiting Hong Kong.
Hotpots and Claypots
These one pot meals are godsend for the backpacker. But that doesn’t exclude them from fine dining as well. The Hotpot usually is a soup that has been put to boil over a stove. Diners sitting around dip their favourite meats in the soup until cooked. It is followed by dipping in the sauces you like before polishing it up. The claypots are made up of rice in the center which is crisped at the sides. Vegetables and meats are added to it which adds on the juices.
This boiled rice porridge is one of the most nutritious meals that you will ever find. With vegetables and meats being infused into it, the flavours get infused slowly into the porridge. It can either be sea food based as in the Chiu Chow style or meats as in the Cantonese style.
If you haven’t had the famous rice noodles of Hong Kong, your trip isn’t complete. The stir fried noodles are the best way to try out this omnipresent carbohydrate. The Bamboo pressed noodles which are lashed with a bit of duck eggs are the premier quality. Try it out with a plethora of toppings to give you the taste you love the most.
If you’re a lover of all meats possible, I suggest you try out the Poon Choi. A large amount of ingredients including chicken, duck, seafood, beef, pork, mushrooms, Chinese radish and tofu is layered in upto 9 to 13 layers to create a dish which feeds multiple people. We tried it out and loved the plethora of flavours along with the layering of them.
Originated from the Guangdong valley, this sweet winter melon filled bun is the perfect dessert to finish off a decadent meal from Hong Kong. They can be found in city bakeries all over the country.
Do tell us your experience of Hong Kong food and tell us what we should include in our list?
All photographs are courtesy of Discover Hong Kong.
Located in the Far East, the islands of Taiwan are a cornucopia of colors and one of a kind beauty. With it’s varied terrain and ecosystem, it offers an immense nature of food items. Now the problem associated with a lot of food from the Far-East is the ignorance surrounding it. Our Editor, Sudipto De loves presenting food guides from all over the planet. So, check out this guide on Taiwanese Food.
Roe is something that Bengalis can always relate to. Instead of getting like us, the Taiwanese use a different process altogether. It goes through a process salting after which it is pressed into cakes. It is a popular delicacy enjoyed with Sorghum wine. The salty Roe works in a perfect combination with the sour wine.
Shaoxing and Gaoliang Wines
While on the topic of wines, the Shaoxing wine deserves a special mention. The wine derives it’s dry, sweet taste from the excellent quality water of the Ailan plateau. This golden yellow wine is fermented from glutinous and Penglai rice along with wheat for the carbohydrate.
Now this is something that is truly original and new. Apparently the pig’s knuckle from the forefoot is deliciously succulent. In the northern part of the country, it is generally stewed in a light broth whereas it is a braised in a flavourful soy sauce in the southern part of the country.
Although the name and the smell may put most people off. But this dish has one of the most beautiful soft textures that you’ll ever try. Usually served with pickled cabbage, it is virtually like silk and melts on your mouth.
One of my favorite desserts, the Mochi was originally known as Doushu. The name Mochi was acquired later under the Japanese rule. Bengalis are lover of sweets and that is a known fact. But what people don’t know is the difference in the palates of a West Bengali and East Bengali. The former tend to prefer subtler flavours sans the sugar syrup. This is where this eccentric Japanese-American dessert drew my attention. Invented by businesswoman Frances Hasimoto, Mochi stands for pounded sticky rice. Mochi ice cream consists of this delicate piece of rice sticking around the flavourful ice cream, a perfect marriage of East and West.
The well watered cool hills of Taiwan are perfect for growing tea. The major types that are available are Wenshan Baozhong Tea, Dongding Oolong (Wulong) Tea, Pekoe Oolong (Baihao Wulong) Tea, and Tie Guanyin.
All photographs are courtesy of Discover Taiwan. Tell us about your favorite Taiwanese food and we will include it on the list too.