Good morning, Hangover! We haven’t seen you in a while. Well, a day or so. Today, everyone, is our final day in Japan. Hard to believe, but we’ve covered a lot of ground, we drank a lot of sake, we ate a hell of a lot of food…
The day was supposed to begin with an early morning train and an even earlier wakeup call. It’s been another major theme of the trip: the hungover, early morning struggle to press on in our travels. Unfortunately, on this morning, Mike was not up to that challenge. So, while Mike stayed back for some rest (and, ahem, blogging), Chao caught his train.
Chao caught the train because this was the kind of trip that, as a chef, he’d never be able to miss: a tour of the Suisin Knives Factory. Chao met the owner of Suisin, Junro Aoki, at the Worlds of Flavor Conference in Napa (again, really glad we hit that up). When he heard we’d be in Osaka, he invited us to tour the factory.
Mr. Aoki picked Chao up at the station and took him to the factory, where Chao was blown away by this behind-the-scenes look at some of his most treasured tools. The precision, the craftsmanship, the gleam of the finished product–just one, shiny, blade-filled dream.
When Chao arrived back at the hotel, Mike was pretty much just as he’d left him. We cleaned ourselves up and headed out for a final stroll around Osaka. We hit some of the areas we’d missed the day before, but it wasn’t very long before we started to feel the familiar pangs of hunger.
Thankfully, we walked smack-dab into one of the best okonomiyaki places we’d seen in Japan. We ordered the seafood special, which was whipped up right in front of us, served with udon noodles, and topped with sweet sauce and Japanese mayo. Absolute perfection. We cleaned everything up (including a few Yebisu beers) in record time, further establishing ourselves as charter members of the Clean Plate Club.
Daimon Sake Brewery
Next up: Daimon Sake Brewery. The only problem: we were going to the brewery by train… with three stops… Forty minutes later we were there–error-free and in one piece. We met with Yasutaka Daimon, Daimon Brewery’s 9th generation owner and toji (the master brewer at a sake brewery).
Yasutaka took us on a tour of Daimon, a beautiful, historical brewery that’s been producing some of the world’s best sake since 1826. After that, he led us to the tasting bar where we sampled one of each, followed by lunch upstairs in the brewery’s restaurant, Mukune Tei. The restaurant has a beautifully rustic ambience, perfectly complemented by the unbelievable food, prepared by none other than Yasutaka’s wife.
When we stepped into the restaurant, there was a reserved table waiting for us. Yasutaka brought us a tray and told us, “Please enjoy.” On that tray was a lineup of every bottle of sake they produce. There’s nothing like a little royal treatment to finish up this leg of our journey.
We were there until pretty late, chatting about sake, the food, Japan in general, reveling in the incredible hospitality of Yasutaka Daimon and the rest of the lovely folks at the Daimon family brewery. Stuffed, mildly intoxicated, and in no state to navigate Osaka’s trains, we cabbed it home to get an “early” night (midnight’s early, right?) for our flight to Hong Kong in the morning.