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Kampai Toronto 2012

The Urban Craze
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On May 31st, the largest sake festival to ever hit the shores of Canada was held over at the Distillery District here in Toronto. Ontario Spring Water Sake Company, Izumi played host of the night in their awesome facility. Vince, Denice and myself of The Urban Craze were all very fortunate to get Media Passes to the festival which also included the VIP Test Tasting portion of the night. With over 119 different types of Sake, 42 brands from 36 breweries, we had a lot of tasting to do.

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

Being at the festival earlier, gave us the opportunity to meet and talk Sake with many of the vendors, breweries, other press/media and VIP guests that night. Now Sake as previously mentioned in our giveaway post, is a drink that is definitely picking up momentum in Toronto and Ontario. It’s a drink that can go well on its own or can be used to compliment the many varies of food. With the number of Japanese Izakaya’s and restaurants appearing, this was a festival that just couldn’t be missed.

For the test tasting portion of the night, we were led by Michael Tremblay who is the first and only Advanced Certified Sake Professional in Ontario. Michael helped us all gain a little insight to sake’s extensive history. He spent time breaking down the 4 main ingredients of sake which are rice, water, kojin-kin and yeast. Now every single element of those ingredients has an important aspect in creating the overall taste and feel of the sake. Michael made it easy for us by putting it in this simple matter:

  • rice: the taste of the sake
  • water: provides texture to the sake
  • kojin-kin (the “mold”): creates the body of the sake
  • yeast: the aroma and smell of the sake
  • As well, in the VIP test tasting portion, Michael talked about how Sake was made and how it was a very unique process. Sake or better known as Nihonshu, which can be translated to Japan’s alcohol which is actually the only alcohol that has a multiple parallel fermentation process. Now to put some of the learning to the test, we were given 6 sakes to taste. There was a good variety to the 6 sakes which included many different styles and grades. One can think of grade as the milling rate/percentage and style in terms of how the sake was made and if it was filtered/unpasteurized. When someone talks about dry sake, aged sake, unfiltered or ‘cloudy’ sake, they’re talking about style. It was definitely a great and informative session where the whole TUC team simply learnt a lot.

    The festival also showcased some of the best Japanese food available. With appearances made by Guu Izakaya, Blowfish, Ginko, Ki Modern Japense + Bar, Mye and Pure Spirituals Oyster House and Grill. The food was definitely a delight! They paired very well with many of the different varies of Sake. We were quite blown away by the quality and selection of sakes as the night continued. What we found interesting were some of the different grades of Sake. We enjoyed the grades of sake such as Daiginjo (such as sparkling sake), Junmai Ginjo and Junmai. And if this wasn’t enough, there was also a passion filled drumming performance that night.

    Overall, Kampai Toronto was simply an amazing experience. Having the opportunity to meet the Consul General of Japan, Eiji Yamamoto and all the people involved with the event was simply indescribable at times. Vivian Hatherell, one of the Execs at the Sake Institute of Ontario mentioned in one of our conservations that the time for the event was now. Sake’s growing in Ontario and with the booming number of Japanese restaurants/Izakaya’s, there just wasn’t a better time. But what we really connected with was the true essence of the event, bringing that joy and happiness from sake lovers all over the World to Canada. That was the heart of the festival, and we felt it. We had a great time and want to thank everyone that was a part of this festival. Which now leaves us to wonder and hope, will there be a Kampai Toronto next year? Well, we definitely hope so. As we raised our glasses to end that night, we would like to raise our glasses to you, Kampai.. cheers everyone and enjoy Sake.

    The Damage: General: $65 // VIP: $80

    For more photos check out our Flickr page: The Urban Craze – Flickr


    About the author


    best possible description of Brian: Works wayy too hard, but enjoys the simple things in life with a passion to give back to the community. He's interested in how things are started up and believes there are a ton of hidden gems within and just outside the city. Last but not least, continually grateful for all that has happened... the good and the bad. Cause honestly, we're more than blessed.

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