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Tokyo - Shochu to bring back to the U.S.

Yup, typo indeed. But it seems like you got bit by the morning typo bug as well.

Should be "kokuto."

To the OP, sorry for the confusion.

Also, I totally agree with the Satoh black label recommendation, but it's easier to find in New York than it is in Tokyo (Shochu Authority doesn't carry it). And cheaper, believe it or not!

Satoh mugi is not exported as much, so that would be a good bet.

Nov 27, 2014
pellegrini in Japan

Tokyo - Shochu to bring back to the U.S.

Here are a couple of quality shochu that are not widely available outside Japan:

Imo (potato)
Yamato Zakura (mentioned in my earlier post)

Mugi (barley)
Naka Naka
Chingu (Iki Shochu)

Kome (rice)
Nousagi no Hashiri

Kokuro (brown sugar)

Hope you can find a decent bottle shop before you head back. Safe travels!

Nov 27, 2014
pellegrini in Japan

Tokyo - Shochu to bring back to the U.S.

I may be a bit late, but the earlier recommendation was astute. Head to Shochu Authority, and ask for something that is rarely found in Tokyo. That basically translates to, "This is really only available in Kyushu."

If you can get it, I highly recommend anything from Yamato Zakura ( That distillery specializes in sweet potato shochu, and it's beauty in a bottle. Maybe not the best choice for shochu newbies, but anyone who likes complexity in their tipple will appreciate it.

You might also grab a bottle or two of "Iki Shochu" which is a WTO protected barley shochu appellation from Nagasaki Prefecture.

Shochu Authority has several labels, and barley shochu are usually a good starting point for shochu novices.

Nov 23, 2014
pellegrini in Japan

Good bars around northern section of Yamanote loop?

I'm on a hunt for good bars/izakaya near the Yamanote Line between Otsuka and Tabata.

If you can recommend places that also serve decent food, then that would be much appreciated!

Mar 07, 2011
pellegrini in Japan

San Diego - Shochu bars/restaurants

I'm more than a year behind on this conversation, but I just wanted to add a little extra info to this conversation.

Standard soju, the stuff that most places in the states carry, generally does not have a higher alcohol by volume (ABV) than shochu. Interestingly, the average soju's ABV has slowly dwindled to between 20-22% over the past several years as manufacturers have further diluted the beverage so as to maintain profit margins.

Single-distilled (honkaku or otsurui) shochu, on the other hand, almost always weighs in at around 25% ABV. Honkaku shochu is the type of drink featured at the bars that the original poster was asking about.

Also, standard soju is almost never made from rice anymore. It's too expensive. This still relatively-unknown factoid was revealed in a WTO case when Korea was defending its taxes on imported spirits.

These days soju production mostly involves cheaper starches such as tapioca for fermentation before the distillation process begins. Some higher-end "artisan" distillers have returned to the use of rice, but the consumption of the resulting 'premium' soju is still just a small fraction of the market.

At the same time, it is definitely fair point out that rice is not the most common raw material used to make shochu in Japan. However, when comparing soju and shochu sold in California, it's probably a lot easier to find a bottle of the latter made from rice.

Sorry. Back to the original poster's question: any new shochu bars in SD? Or are there at least some Japanese restaurants with a decent shochu menu?

Feb 28, 2011
pellegrini in San Diego

Best romantic bar?

Great suggestions so far.
One more:
Le CoCon (Shibuya) has cocoon-like booths for those seeking privacy.

Nov 25, 2010
pellegrini in Japan

Menya Musashi Takatora/Takadanobaba

Hope you're still having a great time in Tokyo!

Don't know if you already found a good kushiyaki place, but here are a couple in Shinjuku. Three to four thousand yen range (per person) at this place. Opens at 5pm.

Kushi no Kura -- 1 minute walk from the New South Exit of JR Shinjuku station. From the bottom of the stairs, find L-Breath across the street on the corner. Walk 10 seconds up street parallel to overpass on left side of L-Breath. 3rd floor of building with Mickey D's in it. (address: 東京都新宿区新宿4-1-13 田園新宿ビル3F Phone: 03-3357-1194)

And on the northwest side of JR Shinjuku station:

Kushi Taro -- 4 minute walk from west exit of JR Shinjuku. Same price range as above, but opens at noon (except Sundays and holidays). On street, turn right. Uniqlo will be on your right (cross to other side of street before or immediately after large intersection 50 meters ahead). You'll pass a big bank on your left after the intersection. Kushi Taro is in the basement of the 3rd building on your left after the bank. (address: 160-0023 東京都新宿区西新宿7-10-19 西新宿ビルB1 Phone: 03-3365-4645)

Let us know if you try either of these out. Would love to hear what you think.

Best wishes,

Mar 29, 2010
pellegrini in Japan

Favorite Japanese Craft Brews

Haven't tried them at Popeye, but hoping to run into a few of the barleywines at the Naka-Meguro taproom at some point this week.

Has anyone been to the big winter beer week festival thing that's going on there right now? How does the pricing work for that? I heard about the 10,000 yen tickets, but is it possible to buy brews 'tanpin' (ie. as you go)?

Feb 16, 2010
pellegrini in Japan

Favorite Japanese Craft Brews

Popeye is a 'must' for all beer lovers in the metropolis.

Asaya in Kamishakujii has a nice selection of microbrews as well. Most of the selection is in bottles, but the menu is impressive given the size of the bar.

Feb 12, 2010
pellegrini in Japan

Favorite Japanese Craft Brews

At the moment I'm really into Baird Brewing's offerings at their taprooms in Harajuku and Naka-Meguro. Lots of wonderful things on tap! Anyone else been there?

But I'd like to hear a bit more about what is out there.

What, in your opinion, is a Japanese craft beer that should not be missed?

Feb 07, 2010
pellegrini in Japan

Old Isakayas (Tokyo)

Will do, man, thanks!

Feb 02, 2010
pellegrini in Japan

Valentine's Chocolate Beer by Sapporo

Thanks for the warning. I probably will end up giving this a miss unless someone agrees to share it with me.

Feb 02, 2010
pellegrini in Japan

Valentine's Chocolate Beer by Sapporo

Has anyone tried the new "Sapporo x Royce Chocolat Brewery" seasonal beer that hit stores recently?

Just wondering if it's worth trying.

Feb 01, 2010
pellegrini in Japan

Old Isakayas (Tokyo)


Excellent list! I'm in the Monzennakacho area quite often during the day, but I've never had a chance to sit down in any of those places you mentioned.

Looks like I just figured out what I'll be doing this week!

Feb 01, 2010
pellegrini in Japan

Old Isakayas (Tokyo)

Tons of options downtown as was rightly noted by those who replied before me.

The first place that came to mind, and one of my favorites in Shinjuku, was Donzoko (

The atmosphere is allegedly the same as it was in the 50's although I'd be willing to bet that fewer artists hang out there these days (Mishima and Kurosawa used to hang there). Mostly a young to middle-aged business crowd by my recollections.

If I remember correctly, there are four different floors--each one with its own vibe. The place is rambunctious in a tolerable way on most evenings, and the surrounding neighborhood has a number of other good evening-oriented options.

Feb 01, 2010
pellegrini in Japan

Monster Energy Versus Vermonster Spat: The Aftermath

The B&J scoop shop near where I grew up had the "Vermonster" on their menu, and whole ice hockey teams tried to manhandle it together. There was even a list on the wall that chronicled the groups that successfully made it to the bottom of the giant bowl.

That was the first thing I thought about when I heard the term "Vermonster". And that was ages ago--Hansen really stepped in it on this one.

Perhaps, as a show of solidarity, B&J could sue Hansen to help prove Senator Leahy's point.

Jan 31, 2010
pellegrini in Features