There is a large hotel not 2 minutes’ walk from my house, and their restaurant is what I like to call “Bubble Fancy.” It’s a remnant of Japan’s heady days of high wealth in the 80s and 90s, with furnishings that were once clearly the height of luxury…but now with 30 or so years of wear.
Anyway, this restaurant (which serves a KILLER beef cutlet) is running a special local sake flight. You get a choko of Dassai 50, Harada Junmai (Dai?)ginjo (50%) and Gokyo Junmai Gingo (55%) with some edamame beans, fried blowfish, and vinegared octopus for 1000 yen. That’s a bargain!
So a friend and I went to give these sakes a try in the wild and see how they went up against each other.
We both started with the Gokyo. Our first impressions matched: it was a somewhat astringent, heavy take on junmai ginjo. The aroma was very subtle, with just a hint of banana.
The Harada was next. This was a full flavored, complex ginjo. (Note: The labeling read ginjo, but at a seimaibuai of 50% it should be a DAIginjo. I didn’t see the bottle to check, but perhaps they’re using a mix of seimaibuai for kojimai and kakemai, so they don’t call it dai)? It had a melon/apple ginjoka aroma and a smooth mix of fruity ginjo and junmai umami on the tongue. It was really quite nice.
We both finished with reliable old Dassai. There’s not much to say. It was smooth and drinkable, if a bit weak in character and complexity. It’s Dassai.
My friend and I both agreed that the Harada was the most impressive and enjoyable of the three. The Gokyo was a bit too old fashioned, meaning the barrier to simple enjoyment was high, while Dassai was honestly kind of boring.
That being said, they’re all high quality sakes, make no mistake. But if you asked me which one I’d like to take home it’s the Harada, hands down.