Some­thing You Should Know

We chat­ted with the Se­nior Direc­tor of Bev­er­age, Al­fredo Martinez of Beni­hana Inc to talk about RA Sushi’s World Sake Day, the start of sake brew­ing sea­son and the im­por­tance of cel­e­brat­ing this cul­tural and culi­nary hol­i­day.

Athleisure - - Contents - @RASushi

Sake (pro­nounced SAH-kay not SAH-kee) fans re­joice, we sat down with Beni­hana Inc.'s Se­nior Direc­tor of Bev­er­age, Al­fredo Martinez to find out about RA Sushi, World Sake Day, how this rice wine is brewed and a few mis­con­cep­tions about this bev­er­age in this month's Some­thing You Should know!

ATH­LEISURE MAG: Can you tell us about RA Sushi, which we know is un­der Beni­hana Inc, the par­ent com­pany to RA Sushi, Haru and of course, Beni­hana. Also tell us who you are and what you do at RA Sushi.

AL­FREDO MARTINEZ: I’m the Se­nior Direc­tor of Bev­er­age for all of the 3 brands that you men­tioned as well as Sa­mu­rai which is a con­cept here in Mi­ami. We’re very lucky to have var­i­ous brands. Beni­hana which every­body knows – we cook in front of you. RA Sushi, is the wild child. We are high en­ergy, vi­brant en­vi­ron­ment that is built on a strong happy hour with very in­no­va­tive sushi. If you ever have a chance to go, we will be very happy to take care of you. It just so hap­pens that dur­ing Oc­to­ber, we will cel­e­brate Ni­hon­shu No Hi or World Sake Day and it’s just a world wide cel­e­bra­tion day of Ja­panese food and cul­ture. We’re thrilled to share a lit­tle bit of that which starts on Oct 1st and we will have spe­cials such as $1 hot sake, Spiked Sushi Roll which is a brand new roll that we have where the tuna is mar­i­nated in sake and there is a sake pair­ing with it. We’re thrilled for peo­ple to try it.

AM: For those that aren’t fa­mil­iar what is the process of mak­ing sake, are there va­ri­etals and in mak­ing it – is more like a wine or a beer?

AM: That’s a great ques­tion. The mis­con­cep­tion comes when peo­ple call it a rice wine but it is ac­tu­ally brewed more like a beer. Since that is the case, it means that it is go­ing to have some of the el­e­ments of beer mak­ing. The im­por­tant things to re­mem­ber about sake is that there are only 4 in­gre­di­ents

so you’re go­ing to have the rice (var­i­ous va­ri­eties that you can choose from), wa­ter – which is very im­por­tant so the sake de­pend­ing on where it is brewed in the North of Ja­pan or the South of Ja­pan you’ll have dif­fer­ent qual­i­ties of wa­ter which are all amaz­ing – but one may be a lit­tle bit more heav­ier, softer or sweeter de­pend­ing on wa­ter con­tent and it will have a big im­pact on what sake will taste like. Then you will have dif­fer­ent kinds of yeast, which the mak­ers will have to select the right kind to go with the rice that they are us­ing, and koji – a spe­cial Ja­panese mold that will help with the brew­ing process and the fer­men­ta­tion process. Sake is the only bev­er­age in the world that goes through a com­plex fer­men­ta­tion, but most im­por­tantly it’s sul­phate free, gluten free as well. The craft and mas­tery of the sake cre­ations are what we try to show­case at the restau­rant to have a var­ied as­sort­ment for our guests to try that come from all over Ja­pan as well as the US.

AM: Is there sake pro­duc­tion in the US?

AM: Ab­so­lutely, you have brew­eries that are pop­ping up ev­ery­where. You have some very estab­lished ones in Cal­i­for­nia and Ore­gon. Now we’re also see­ing some are pop­ping up in Min­nesota, Ten­nessee and Texas. There is a lot of in­ter­est in learn­ing more about this very spe­cial bev­er­age be­cause it is very ver­sa­tile with food. That’s an­other mis­con­cep­tion that you should only drink sake with Ja­panese food. It goes well with things such as steak, cheese, even dessert! There is a sparkling sake that we have at RA Sushi that we ac­tu­ally cre­ate mixol­ogy with that, but also as a great way to just fin­ish your meal.

AM: What are some of the sake drink­ing tra­di­tions and what do you guys have go­ing on at RA Sushi for World Sake Day?

AM: What we try to do with the cel­e­bra­tion is to train our servers and to share with peo­ple this ex­pe­ri­ence. On Oct 1st, we have Sushi 101 Classes where peo­ple can come in to learn not only how to make sushi, sushi rice, how to pair it to­gether, but also we pair it with sake. We also in­clude tra­di­tions. For ex­am­ple, if I am sit­ting with you, it’s never ap­pro­pri­ate for you to serve your­self sake. I would serve you as it’s im­por­tant to em­brace hospi­tal­ity and that’s what we do in our restau­rants. The other thing is that sake is used at var­i­ous cer­e­monies and rit­u­als like wed­dings, sumo matches, etc. When we open a new restau­rant, we will break a new cask of sake to cel­e­brate the fact that we have just launched a new prop­erty.

AM: Should it be en­joyed hot or cold and are there cer­tain sakes that should only be con­sumed one way?

AM: An­other good point! We have been used to drink­ing it hot, but it’s an­other mis­con­cep­tion that it should be en­joyed this way as it’s best slightly chilled or room tem­per­a­ture. It de­pends on the type of sake. The best type of sake in my opin­ion to warm is the fuller body or Jun­mai. When it’s warmed to the per­fect tem­per­a­ture it be­comes a lit­tle sweeter and softer. The more del­i­cate sake should be en­joyed chilled be­cause you are eat­ing lighter types of food with it. That would be my rec­om­men­da­tion.

AM: You talked a lit­tle about this ear­lier but how is the Spiked Sushi Roll made?

AM: The culi­nary and bev­er­age teams put our heads to­gether and tried to think about how the best way to cel­e­brate sake month in Oct could be. Our chefs came up with a sushi roll where the tuna is mar­i­nated in sake and its rolled with sea­weed and rice and we top it with two kinds of tuna, white and red. We then pair it with a Nig­ori sake which has been in­fused with cu­cum­ber. So of course, when you're order­ing this sushi, we are go­ing to card

you – so bring your ID! You’ll also ex­pe­ri­ence the rich fla­vors of Nig­ori sake with the tuna.

AM: How is it cel­e­brated in Ja­pan?

AM: Well ba­si­cally, it’s more of a cul­tural cel­e­bra­tion. This event re­ally marks the start of the brew­ing sea­son of sake. There are a num­ber of small cel­e­bra­tions in the houses be­cause peo­ple are say­ing good­bye to their loved ones be­fore they go to the brew­eries to pro­duce this bev­er­age for days in a row. They have to be there ev­ery­day.

AM: So how long is the brew­ing sea­son?

AM: It can go any­where from 4 weeks to 8 weeks and then there is an ag­ing pe­riod. So all to­gether, it’s 6 months for it to be brewed. It's meant to be drank within a year. For our restau­rants, that's why there is such a big dy- namic in how we change our menus. It’s a great op­por­tu­nity to try dif­fer­ent styles be­cause they are all go­ing to be a lit­tle dif­fer­ent.

AM: How do you toast some­one or say cheers on World Sake Day?

AM: When you come to our restau­rants, we have a lot of things go­ing on dur­ing the whole month of Oct! But when you are with a group of friends, you just raise your glass and say kan­pai! That’s the tra­di­tional way to say it in Ja­pan.

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