After the event, from Tuesday to Friday, the Gassan Sake producer Yoshida-san and I worked with import companies sales representatives in four different cities in the US. Every day, we worked with different sales representatives.
We promoted our Sake at the modern style Japanese and Asian food fusion restaurants and in wine stores. The main purpose of our promotion tour was to let store people taste our Sake and see the differences from what they had in the past or hear from them what as to what they thought about the Sake.
As many people know, there are some cheaply-priced, low grade Sake-brands available by large and prominent Sake producers and we have heard by a lot of people that they did not really enjoy the flavor or discovering what Sake is.
As a matter of fact, cheap and lower grade of Sake is everywhere in the world, but the real premium grade of Sake that is made in Japan isn’t widely known to consumers yet. Our short-term goals in the U.S. is to get attention regarding premium grades of Sake and have people knowing more about high quality aroma and flavor.
One of the restaurants we visited is an Asian restaurant and Sushi Bar which is located in Washington D.C. They have been in the business for about 20 years in this area. In fact, they serve Japanese style food, Korean BBQ, Vietnamese food, and Thai food. The restaurant is very modern-looking and stylish.
Nice Sushi counter
This is the inside of the building, there are 300 seats, but both lunch time and dinner time, they get really busy. Luckily, Amanda-san was doing business with them already, so it was easy for us to come in and promote our Sake.
They have incredible, fresh sea food from all over the world. The owner brought us many different foods to pair with, and we started our Sake food pairing promotion.
As you see the picture above, there is soy sauce in the two small dishes. On your left, there is straight soy sauce, and the other one is soy sauce and Sake in it. The content volume is 2 tea spoons of soy sauce and 1 tea spoon of premium grade of Sake mixed together. So the color is lighter as you can see – why we were doing such an unusual fashion of enjoying our Sashimi? Well, in my previous blog post, I mentioned that I took “Modern Shudo” by Katsuyama brewery, and I wanted to share what I have leaned, the new modern way of pairing Sake and food, with people from the food industry.
See, we have Sake on one hand, and spoon on the other hand!
He is one of the owners, and according to him, he never had sashimi this way, and really enjoyed the flavor differences.
In the modern shudo, there are very interesting ways of pairing Sake and food. First of all, you insert Sake into your soy sauce dish, the content volume is 2 tea spoons of soy sauce and 1 tea spoon of Sake. You then dip your sashimi into your special soy sauce and let it sit. Secondly, you pour a tea table spoon of Sake on top of your sashimi, but do not eat it right away. Third, you take a sip or just drink Sake from wine glass. Now you have a bite.
With this easting technique, you will find a lot of “Umami” in your food, which is quite interesting to experience. The premium grade of Sake actually enhances the flavor of the food. This is what I’ve leaned recently by the kuramoto (Sake producer) and am trying to teach food professionals in the US. I’ve also discussed this in another one of my blog posts – check it out to find how to enhance the flavor of virtually any item of food
The HUGE uni(sea urchin) is relatively rare uni from California. The size of this spiky uni is almost same size as a soft ball – I would say 5 times bigger than normal Japanese sea urchin. Amazing! Of course, the taste is great too.
Promoting at high quality grocery store:
Amanda-san whom I was travelling with also distributes wines to the grocery stores and we had a chance to conduct a Sake tasting event. They have been carrying our Sake since January, and we could see our items on the shelf.
In the middle of the picture, you can see one of our Sake products, Water Lords, in the beautiful blue bottle.
Our Sake is surrounded by many “Made in USA Sake”, but ours were only brands of Sake made in and imported from Japan. Water Lords’ price is about twice as high as the locally brewed Sake, but a lot of customers nowadays go for quality instead of quantity, so we hope that the consumers in the U.S. see the differences between the Japanese-brewed Sake and the nationally produced brands.
Yoshida-san, Amanda-san and I spent about 3,5 hours of Sake promotion at the store. We had some cheese to pair with the Sake and wanted to introduce our Sake for the customers. Most of the customers were first-timers when it came to absolute premium Sake, and we received a lot of attention from them. Even store manager made an announcement on the microphone twice!
At the end of our Sake promotion here in this store, we sold 35 bottles of Sake. Considering the short timeframe, this is an amazing result. The sales results must’ve gotten the store manager very pleased, because he immediately ordered more of our products.
Also, one must remember that this is a chain of grocery stores, and our Sake products are already in their system. That means there is a possibility to expand our Sake availability nationwide in a very rapid pace! I hope it will happen.
Sake promotion at Kushi, the Japanese IZAKAYA place in Washington D.C.
Kushi is well known Izakaya in town, they have such a great reputation given by many different people and businesses. When I first entered this Izakaya, I thought it could be tough to introduce our Sake to the store, but the owner, Ari-san, welcomed us kindly. It turned out that they actually started carrying our Sake a couple weeks ago through Amanda-san. Ari-san, as such, knew our items already. It was our first time to see a Japanese person on this trip. Usually a lot of non-Japanese people are running Sushi places a lot in the U.S. It was both interesting and pleasant meeting with someone from my own country who had decided to open a place abroad.
They have high quality food such as Yakitori, Sashimi, and vegetable dishes as can be seen on these pictures.
Our Sake brands, Water Lords and Mountain Moon, were already on the menu, and we actually ordered our brands of Sake as well as a few others. Woo, a lot of Sake to be drunk….
With flavorful Sake and good food, you can have really enjoyable moments. Tasty Sake truly enhances food quality to an amazing degree.
Of course, they got Yoshida-san’s “MoonMountain” as well. Seeing his own Sake at the restaurant in the U.S made him smile. You know the feeling – everyone gets happy if their items are available in a different country and business is going so well!
Yoshida-san gave a Gassan banner to Kushi for showing his appreciation and in hope of a long term healthy relationship. Hanging this huge banner upon their wall will enhance and cause customers to pay attention for sure!
We spent about a week in the U.S., mostly in the Virginia area this time, and had such a great and productive time. We went to about 20 places to promote our Sake, and met great people. Also, seeing how customers react when they first had our Sake was stunning to me. Everybody – even the people from the alcohol and spirit industry said “Wow! This Sake is really tasty!” After hearing their comments and seeing their reaction to our Sake, I feel much more confident in making sure that our Sake will be accepted and appreciated by the market. Let’s see how it goes…
By the way, in 2013, we are planning to add 4 more new lineups for the U.S. market, so it will be more attractive for the market in general. Stay tuned…