The modern white façade on Roppongi’s Seijoki street leaps out at you: Hasegawa Eiga, direct outlet for Yaegaki Sake & Spirits. Venture inside, and you’ll find water walls and tranquil, clean displays, with an overall effect that seems somehow purifying. But deep in the store’s hidden depths lies another secret: a small space like a tearoom, where a low, sturdy table gleams under the overhead lights. On the table is placed a tray with cups of sake and a range of refined amuse-bouche. This is where Hasegawa Eiga holds its sake tastings.
Today’s sake brewing techniques are said to have been established in the Edo Period (1603–1868), as attested by the many breweries that opened across Japan at that time. Located in the Hayashida area in Harima Province (part of present-day Hyogo Prefecture), Yaegaki dates back to founder Eiga Hasegawa’s first ventures in the brewing and forestry businesses in 1666. For three and a half centuries, Hasegawa’s descendants have maintained the family trade. In December last year, they launched a new premium sake brand “Hasegawa Eiga,” brewed using Yamada Nishiki sake rice from Special A Zones—which is extremely difficult to cultivate—the renowned riverbed water of Shikagatsubo, and the painstaking futa-koji technique. The sake itself is then collected using the fukuro-shibori gravity drip method, drop by drop, to ensure the purest possible flavor. In a way, the brand is the culmination of the Hasegawa family’s long experience and deep knowledge of sake brewing.
The Hasegawa Eiga store opened in Roppongi last December along with the brand, and offers tastings of five different varieties of sake—including Eiga Junmai Daiginjo, which costs ¥30,000 yen per bottle—along with amuse-bouches by innovative chef Natsuko Shoji.
The white façade, the noren curtain, and of course the interiors at Hasegawa Eiga all reflect traditional Japanese aesthetics
Natsuko Shoji, owner and chef of été
For three months starting in April 2019, the amuse-bouches served at Hasegawa Eiga’s sake tastings will be produced by Natsuko Shoji, a leader of the new generation of chefs who is attracting attention both within Japan and internationally. Shoji is the owner and chef of été, a strictly invitation-only restaurant whose address is not available to the public.
Five finely considered amuse-bouches from Shoji are provided at each tasting, including simmered white asparagus with yuzu, salt-cured egg yolk with sake lees pickles, and nanohana blossom and butterbur stalk tart. All allow the elegant, refined taste of the sake to shine while adding a hint of spring and a feminine sensibility. With fine utensils and appealing colors also on offer, tastings almost feel like a festive flower-viewing session.
From the store’s décor to the sake cups and even the carefully arranged ikebana, Hasegawa Eiga has created a space in accordance with the classic principles of Japanese aesthetics—the ideal place to enjoy an unforgettable tasting session of gemlike sake and exquisite amuse-bouches.
◆Hasegawa Eiga Sake Tasting (reservation required)
7-6-20 Roppongi, Minato, Tokyo
¥5,400 (including tax) per person
Up to four members per group. Reservations can be made via the official homepage.
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