Saturday, September 11, 2010

Omasa Komasa, Higashi Nakano (大政小政)

Really, apologies to all my sake-drinking friends. I don't know what possessed me to go to Tachikawa today - and you didn't miss anything out there, I promise. But on the way back I got to thinking...passing through Nishi Kokubunji always does that too me. I only went there twice. The first time was to meet Grandma. She was already so old that she stayed in bed all the time, in her son's house, and couldn't remember her daughter. The other time I went was to carry out her casket. Seeing the sloping walls of the station always reminds me of it, but I don't want to forget.

In such situations, you get to thinking. It's right on the's right by the station...and I went back to the temple. So this is a duplicate post, and you know what that means - this place is high enough on my recommended list to make it worth a return visit. Mori san is an absolute nut, in some very good ways. Moon Road is still weird and a little scary on Saturday nights.

The shop isn't unwelcoming, but inside isn't as bright, and when the master is just sitting at the counter with the TV on, playing with a laptop, anyone would think twice about going in.

He remembered after a while that I had been before - which is pretty good considering it was back in early March, with the Woodsman and Big Bird. I attempted to get over the previous knowledge-testing period by saying that a specific type of sake I had there before was still my favorite ever, and we took it from there. Again, there were no other customers. After a while he gave up on standing to talk and sat down at the table with me. I was drinking Juyondai, because he specializes in it, and we were talking.

And not long after that he said, well, if you like that Juyondai so much, let's try some together. And he got out the two that I had already had that night (this year's and last year's) plus the two prior years. I confess to a lot of confusion here - these are unpasteurized (nama) sakes, and the bottle on the left is 4 years old. How can it be so good after so much time? I'm not even sure how many bottles he gets, or how fast he runs through them, and I know he doesn't vacuum-seal the bottles - just corks them and puts them back in the tied-off plastic bags. With the lack of customers, I almost felt like we were drinking from the same bottle that we tried in March. I think you'll agree that you've not had a vertical tasting of sake before, right? And especially jungin from Juyondai. This was heaven.

This, too was wonderful - a variety of rice that Juyondai no longer uses, in 5 and 7 year-old versions. This again was very suited to the way my palette has changed - it's clean and smooth and balanced, but very, very flavorful. The first time I tried something like this (the Dewasansan above), I thought it tasted like meat. I think this is because of the 'umami' that they somehow get out of the rice. It doesn't taste like anything else, I promise.

As I learned on the first visit, it doesn't pay to argue about the food. I just asked him to make me whatever, like pickles and cheese, and he carved up a little of everything Japanese and pungent in addition to his own pretty-good chilled nimono. I think you know about smoked pickles and cheese and cured tofu and boiled eggplants, so I won't belabor it.

My enthusiasm was not even dampened by the cockroach that crawled up my leg while we were drinking. I screamed like a woman, but managed to extract vengeance. I don't know how Juyondai does it, and I don't know how Mr. Mori does it, but they can keep doing it as long as they want. I really think this is worth the trip (especially now that I realize it's all of 20 minutes by train and 5 minutes on foot from my station).

If you go, and are sufficiently into the subject matter, you should watch out - I have no idea how we got to the point where I only got to the station in time for the last train, but that's what happened. Thinking of going?

The stations are always weird by this time of the night. Don't get bit.

Enough with the videos already! For god's sake, sober up! Weirdo.

What's stopping you from trying it, the reputation for surliness or the cockroaches?


  1. Loved the video. Funny how no one even looks at you as you pass. In the US you would be concerned about being in a deserted subway like that.

  2. In Japan, I'M the source of concern. That's why no one looks at me.