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Kampai Toronto 2013

The Urban Craze
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  • The Main Attaction
  • The Atmosphere
  • The Venue/Location
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The Sake Institute of Ontario presented the second annual Kampai Toronto – Festival of Sake held on May 30, 2013. The festival was again held at the Fermenting Cellar in the Distillery District and The Urban Craze was honoured to be invited back to attend for the second time. Not too different from the inaugural year, the evening was a showcase for dozens of sake breweries from all across Japan, a few from the US, and not to mention our very own Ontario Spring Water Sake Brewing Company. The sake was not complete without the 13 restaurant partners providing festival goers with a savoury and sweet spread of delectables.

Fermenting Cellar,
The Distillery District
55 Mill Street,
Toronto, ON M5A, 3C4

This year Brian and I were in attendance and being it was my first time, I didn’t know what was in store for the night. The festival opened with a Japanese taiko drum performance as sake enthusiasts and the like quickly filled the space. Being at a sake festival with little knowledge of this Japanese alcoholic beverage was slightly intimidating but what better time than to talk to the knowledgable vendors who handle it everyday and sample some sake while doing so.

A few things I learned about sake:

  • - Sake is brewed from only rice — it’s not distilled and not simply fermented
  • - Unlike wine, sake is not aged and consumed young
  • - Sake is best consumed slightly chilled but there are always exceptions

The Urban Craze - Kampai Toronto 2013 Sake The Urban Craze - Kampai Toronto 2013 Sake2

Brian explained in a previous post what the 4 ingredients are that make up sake. Since rice is the main ingredient that goes into making sake and the different grades of sake is determined by how much the rice has been milled. There is quite a bit of overlap between the grades and it can get a little confusing for novice sake consumers, like myself, but gives a comprehensive and easy to understand breakdown of the sake classifications.

The Urban Craze - Kampai Toronto 2013 - Ryo OzawaMany food partners returned for a second year, including Guu Izakaya, Blowfish, Ki Modern Japanese + Bar, Mye Restaurant, and Pure Spirituals Oyster House and Grill. There were many newcomers that were added to the restaurant lineup including: Don Don Izakaya, EDO Sushi, Hapa Izakaya, Indian Rice Factory, Izakaya Ju, Kingyo Izakaya, Momofuku, and Ryoji Ramen & Izakaya. I was excited that the number of food vendors had doubled this year and I was not alone. Most people made a bee line for the food before they started to venture to the sake and Kingyo quickly ran out of their Scallop Ceviche and Ki followed closely behind. The restaurants not only provided tantalizing foods that paired great with the variety of sakes but they also brought some of their own sake cocktails for sampling: Blowfish, Root of Innocence; Hapa Izakaya, Pear Passion; Ki, Wasabi Swag; and Momofuku, Umeboshi Slushie. Guu also made a Sake Tiramisu to add something sweet to the food lineup. Word of advice, similar to last year, food was the first to go.

The Urban Craze - Kampai Toronto 2013 - Kingyo The Urban Craze - Kampai Toronto 2013 - Ki

The Kampai Toronto tasting event is the first of its kind that I’ve been to and it was quite a fantastic experience. Being that this is the largest sake festival in all of Canada it was a pleasure being able to take part in the second one. The hospitality that many of the sake vendors provided was unmatched. They were enthusiastic and kind as they dispensed their knowledge about sake, while ensuring my sampling glass was never empty! We got word that next year it’ll be even bigger opening the event to even more people to enjoy and taste. While we wait and see what’s in store for Kampai 2014, we raise our glass to you for Kampai 2013! Cheers and enjoy sake!

The Damage: Advance Purchase Online (until May 23): $65 // Full-price Online & At-the-Door (Subject to Availability): $75

About the author


Best possible description of Shirley: A seemingly ordinary individual with an affinity for the unconventional. I have a great appreciation for and I am constantly amazed by the creativity and ingenuity expressed through food and art.

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