Just like my Facebook ramen tip, I got a great recommendation for a sake shop from my old friend (and sake expert) Bruce after I mentioned I was in Tokyo (on my last trip actually). So, after our Ippudo ramen dinner, my friend Shinji and I headed over to Fukumitsuya, which was nearby the restaurant in Ginza. (I had actually tried to go the night before with my colleague John, but we got there too late.)
Fukumitsuya is a sake brewery founded in 1625; this is one of three of their retail shops. They have a tasting bar and a retail section full of great sake and lovely sakeware made from ceramic, glass, pewter, and even silver.
We were helped by the very kind and patient Otsu-san, helped by Shinji's translation skills. As we discussed more and showed our appreciation, Otsu-san started pouring more and more expensive sakes for us, ending with this amazing 20 year old Momotose, which was a deep amber color and sherry-like in nose and flavor. I've never had anything like it. She also highly recommended the Hatsugokoro Midorigura 7 year old sake; this is a daiginjo, the highest grade of sake where the rice is milled down to at least 50% of the original size. It was really delicious as well, with a full, round taste that filled my mouth and nose. Kind of hard to describe.
Most sakes are meant to be consumed young, so it's somewhat unusual to see old sakes like this, especially the 20 year old (they had 30 year old sake too.) Shinji was impressed anyway. These were pretty expensive as far as sake goes (~USD$85 for a small bottle of the Momotose and ~USD$150 for a 720ml bottle of the Hatsugokoro), but I figured I couldn't find anything like this in Seattle or Beijing, so I bought a bottle of each to share with my sweetie. Affordable and memorable luxury. (I'd rather have one bottle I'll remember forever than 5-6 bottles I'll forget once the hangover wears off.)
I also picked up a tasty bottle of plum shochu. (Shochu is a distilled Japanese spirit, like vodka but weaker). It'll be great mixed with soda on the rocks. I topped off my shopping splurge with an elegant silver flask/pitcher thing and two egg-like ceramic cups. It took a lot of restraint to not buy more, frankly. I could easily have spend a zillion dollars here.
It was a very enjoyable shopping experience. They have a restaurant upstairs too, which I'd like to try sometime too. I'll definitely be back.
You can read more about the shop (in English!) on Tokyo Qool. (I tried the pink Nipponia Nippon they mention in the article too -- delicious.)
Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-0061