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Posted June 24, 2011 by samuek in Food Joints

Start A Love Affair With Sake in Toronto – Part 2

If you like sake, microbreweries, are a foodie, just like to try new things, are in the Distillery District of Toronto or to be honest are simply alive and mobile, you MUST go visit the Ontario Spring Water Sake Company.  In short – just go there and try it yourself.

Now just to clarify there is a company manufacturing high quality, rare unpasteurized sake in Toronto, Ontario.  Crazy right?  The company is Ontario Spring Water Sake Company  and they manufacture under the brand Izumi.  So when looking for a bottle, ask for Izumi. 
This place is now a new destination place for foodies.  You do not have to love sake to appreciate a quality Japanese product being made artfully in Toronto.  If you do love sake well then you are officially invited.  You are invited to taste the freshest sake you can get your hands on without flying to Japan.  Let’s see…flight to Japan $900…Japanese sake made in Toronto…priceless (or $15 for a 300ml bottle).  This is not your generic sake you will find in the LCBO, it is Namazake or unpasteurized. We do not get much Namazake if any here as it is very difficult to ship and it will spoil if not kept chilled for the whole shipping time.  If you can get unpasteurized sake, you will taste the difference……Oh wait, now you can.  

Ontario Spring Water Company has set-up in the Distillery District of Toronto.  The public space is small and L shaped with high ceilings, beautiful original brick and light classical music playing in the background.  To your immediate right is a tasting bar which is unique to Ontario Spring Water Sake Company where you can sample their sake without springing for the whole bottle.  The ability to taste before you buy is priceless.  To your left a long, narrow hallway with a glass wall to show off the actual manufacturing process.
Menu on opening day
So what do they sell? 
  • Nama-Nama or never pasteurized
  • Nama-Cho which is bottle pasteurized
  • Genshu Nama or unpasteurized and higher alcohol at 18%
  • Arabashiri which is the first-pressed or freshest available
  • Nigori or unfiltered creating a creamy slightly effervescent result. 
A 300 ml bottle will be roughly $13.00 CAD and a whopping 1.8 L will be roughly $64.00 CAD.  Great prices.  For more information on the types of sake I recommend John Gauntner’s Sake-World website.  John was in town recently for the biggest sake tasting Ontario has ever had called Sake 101.

So how does the sake taste?  In short, great!  The taste of sake most are used to is like watered down vodka.  This is nowhere near the case here.  There is no alcohol bite or taste, the sakes are smooth, tasty, each unique and perfect for sipping.  Good sakes will have a faint fruity smell (nose) I find with a light sweetness, though the possibilities are endless like wines.  The fact that these are not pasteurized keeps the subtleties of the drink and provide a freshness like no other drink can provide.

They sell a version called Teion which is reminiscent of white wine.  I believe this will be a big hit with customers.  I personally bought three 300 ml bottles – Teion, Nama-Nama & Genshu-Nama.  These were my favorites hands-down.  

Go there try some, talk to Kaz the manager, talk to the owner Ken and don’t worry about the sake classification, names and rice and other things.  Try it, like it and go back.

What do you think about sake in Ontario?  Check out Part 1 here Start A Love Affair With Sake in Toronto – Part 1




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