Tasty afternoon snack

There was something of a monastic experience in this afternoon pit stop at Gen Yamamoto’s. The place first: a tiny room in minimalist style, its 8 seats around an L-shaped, beautiful, ancient, dark wood bar counter that is so pleasant to caress. Then there is the man reigning on the central space under indirect light, head shaved like a monk, wearing his customary, buttoned up white jacket, reserved but looking benevolent, ready to engage into a conversation with the visitor as soon as he or she desires it. I arrived around 15:00, therefore it is not really surprising that I remained the only client. When our dialog paused, I could enjoy the quiet relaxing atmosphere where silence was only interrupted by the sound of the tools, and precise, perfectly controlled gestures of this young bartender who took the risk to open his own place after an experience of a few years in the US: the pestle crunching the fruit, the ballet of bottles, the back and forth of the long spoon from its resting place near the sink at the time of adjusting the taste, the ice pick sculpting the cube so that it fits the fine glass. I had asked for a tasting menu around 4 different Japanese alcohols. Each cocktail was the expression of a seasonal fruit, with rising concentration: refreshing ume (Japanese plum) paired with a distilled spirit made from sake kasu (the rice lees remaining after pressing the moromi) at Shichida’s (one of my favorite sake breweries), juicy plum from Hokkaido on a rice shochu aged in cherry casks (photo), Pione grape whose taste was exhanced by a wheat shochu, and last but not least a cream of chestnut and Aramasa sake (another great sake brewery), dressed with sencha powder (photo). A few days later, my palate still remembers the texture and flavors. Moments of grace….

 

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