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Posted February 17, 2013 by samuek in The Sake Bomb

Daisuke Itzsu – Toronto Sake Conjurs Emotions

We have not been so excited to showcase someone in a long time.  Here is Ken’s take on the amazing, Chef Daisuke Itzsu.

I do not fancy myself a “writer” in the journalist sense, and frankly do not enjoy it as much as reading other well written pieces.  I am sure your Corey’s and Amy’s can appreciate the differentiation.  I do however love a good story and if no one is writing about it, then I am happy to.  This post was originally created to promote the amazing Kampai Toronto Sake Festival on May 31 in the Distillery District.  I still believe it will do this but now it doubles as an homage to, and a look out for, Daisuke Itzsu.


  • Chef Daisuke Itzsu

    Chef Daisuke Itzsu

  • Royal Family Sakazuki

    Royal Family Sakazuki

  • Sakazuki


  • Chef Daisuke Itzsu - Youth

    Chef Daisuke Itzsu – Youth

  • Chef Daisuke Itzsu - Izakaya

    Chef Daisuke Itzsu – Izakaya

  • Chef Daisuke Itzsu - Youth

    Chef Daisuke Itzsu – Youth


For those of you who remember Daisuke Itzsu, he was the Chef in charge at the now closed Kaiseki Sakura.  His food wowed many with cuisine that took the Japanese cultural aspect of “attention to detail,” to a whole other level.  He brought us the concept of “Kaiseki,” small, beautiful plates, served delibartely to compliment the last.  Each plate was a work of art at at time where only Hashimoto was doing this.  Some like Kaji would boast similar offerings, combining a more casual Kappo style and sushi but none like this.  The restaurant is now closed in my mind due to the location and people just not being ready for this type of cuisine.  Unfortunate, that many chefs struggle with what they want to do and with what “sells.”  Here are some pics I took of a dinner I had with him.  They are not great quality as they were taken in 2008.

Anyway, we have been speaking recently about sake and about him cooking again.  Currently, he occupies the role of part owner/general manager at Don Don Izakaya and we met there to discuss many things.  I asked him of course about his experiences with sake and like most who love sake, he had many wonderful stories to tell.
He immediately and with great pride shared that the Japanese Royal Family gifted him with a special Sakazuki or sake cups.  Daisuke advised that to this day, he has not had an occasion special enough to use them. We met another day so I could take pictures and I asked when he thought he would ever use them.  He paused, clearly intrigued by the question, then said that he imagined that if he had a son, and that son became a man, that they would drink sake out of the Sakazuki together.  Sake does conjure emotions!

 We talked about his first experience with sake, where his boss at a restaurant in Japan introduced him to how to enjoy the beverage.  He explains that he was taught that sake is not drunk, but rather experienced.  He shares that his boss stressed the importance of feeling and instinct in forming your opinion.

He shared stories  of his friends and colleagues from the restaurant celebrating a grueling dinner rush at the local izakaya with sake and beer.  While he was sharing these stories he was going through pictures and smiling at the memories each one conjured.  In Japanese he spoke to himself about what each one reminded him about.  I was just a grateful observer on that ride.  He loved sharing his knowledge of sake at his restaurant and now aims to do the same at Don Don.

Help support the inaugural year of Kampai Toronto by attending and lend your hand to another great product trying to navigate the Ontario environment.  Buy your tickets here.




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