Premium Sushi Box – Eat In, Takeaway or HOME DELIVERY with your choice of SAKE!!
I had the MKD Sushi, which is the most SPICY HOT sushi in Melb! It was very HOT but at the same time quite TASTY!
Also, you may get some SAKE special when you visit them SAKE HAPPY HOUR 4-6pm!
Salon de Sushi
Address: 293 Clarendon St, South Melbourne VIC 3205
Phone: (03) 9939 3723
On arrival at CHOYA, Inaba San and I were greeted by Vice President and Production Director, Mr. Shunji Kondo, (his older brother Mr. Shigehiro Kondo being the Company President.).
I was treated to an overview of the CHOYA company history that continued over a wonderful lunch at a local soba restaurant. After 56 years of crafting umeshu, CHOYA is now sold to over 60 counties, employs 144 people and also has a production facility in China that caters to the local Chinese market. CHOYA produces a vast range of umeshu variations but focuses on four main product lines for the Japanese market.
Umeshu bottled with fruits ? CHOYA Classic, CHOYA Shiso (Japanese basil) and CHOYA Honey. (all with extra strong variants) Sarari ? a lighter style with lower alcohol. Umeshu RTD ? premixed umeshu cocktails in a can, mainly mixed with soda. Yowanai ? alcohol free premixed cocktail.
Umeshu was traditionally crafted at home. A simple infusion of ume fruit, sugar and alcohol (originally this was aged sake then shochu.) CHOYA’s philosophy is to maintain the heritage of this traditional method but replicate it on a scale of 25,000 to 1. Most home umeshu was prepared in jars of 4-litre capacity; with the same methods CHOYA uses 100,000 litre tanks instead.
After my time at CHOYA Head Office I was to witness this adherence to traditional methods at my next stop ? the Iga Ueno facility, one of four plants CHOYA operates in Japan. This vast complex of 68,498m2 can produce approximately 36,000 bottles of umeshu per day!
To walk us through the process we were put into the care of Mr. Kentaro Suga (Manager of Quality Control Department), a friendly, super keen gentleman who was beaming with pride after presenting his first overview in English! He proudly guided us through the process as we walked around the vast complex. True to their word, production was just like at home, only on a grand scale.
During harvesting in June, ripe ume fruit is inspected and then loaded onto transport. The fruit is delivered usually within 24 hours of it coming off the tree. It is washed and then placed in the maturation tanks with sugar and alcohol, these days its sugar cane spirit ? did someone say rum! Some of their super premium lines include maturation in fine brandy.
As in the home environment, maturation lasts a minimum of one year but for special releases and premium variants the aging can continue up to fifteen years.
Our tour finished surveying the vast bottling facility. Long bottling line snakes coiled around workers that tended to them as they filled the many different sizes and styles of bottles and cartons CHOYA is sold in.
Finally for our thirsty work of navigating the Iga Ueno plant was rewarded in a tasting. I was treated to a comparison set of three ume varieties ? Shirokaga (apple notes), Nanko (richer and slightly sweeter with hints of maraschino cherry) and Oushuku (slightly dryer with a touch of peach and almond).
We also sampled CHOYA Nigori ? a super rich style that was reminiscent of fruit puree that had a super rich marmalade nose. CHOYA Shinroku ? first run umeshu from the bottom of the tank, it had a richer body with a higher concentration of stone fruit and almond on the palate and finally CHOYA Excellent, a premium ume liqueur using the best nanko ume and a French brandy base. This Monde Selection Grand Gold award winner was the perfect finish to a long day immersed in ume lore.
In Fitzroy, Brunswick St, you can find some really cool place offering a great range of creations.
Rice Queen around the bar
Rice Queen Choya Kokuto Sour
Transformer Vegetarian Omakase (Feed Me) dishes with Rihaku Blue Purity
Transformer Choya Greentea Umeshu Cocktail
Rice Queen – 389 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
Transformer – 99 Rose St, Fitzroy
My guide on this journey of discovery was Mr. Shinji Indaba, CHOYA International Sales Manger. I had met Inaba San previously when he was visiting Australia on business. I admired his enthusiasm for his company and knew he was the perfect person to act as my interpreter and umeshu sensei.
We met at Osaka Station and caught the local train to the CHOYA Head Office in Komagatani, 40 minutes south east of Osaka city. Set in the sleepy surrounds of the urban fringe and with a train platform right outside, it was easy to think the CHOYA head office had its own private railway.
Mr. Sumitaro Kondo, who originally had the idea of making wine from locally grown Osaka grapes, founded CHOYA in 1914. His pioneering entrepreneurship was initially not rewarded, as grape quality and early wine making skills in Japan could not compete with the imported options. After persevering for 45 years the company decided to turn their attention to something that was closer to their hearts and homeland ? umeshu.
Records date the preservation of ume fruit back to the Yayoi period (Iron age era of Japan 300 BC to AD 300), particularly umeboshi ? dried and salt cured ume fruit. Certainly, the legends of its health giving benefits have been enjoyed since then and continue to this day.
Scientifically speaking it is worthy to note ume is in fact a fruit in its own right. Although it is a close relative, it is not a plum, parse. Whilst hailing from the same group, Rosaceae Prunus, ume has the scientific name Prunus Mume, where the common plum is Prunus Domestica. The significant difference in the two fruits is that ume has a higher organic acid and polyphenol (antioxidant) content.
The high concentration of iron, potassium, polyphenol and organic acids has perpetuated its reputation as a medicinal agent. Ume has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine. Recent studies have shown it’s effective in the prevention of dental diseases, gastric disorders and assisting in endurance by enhancing the oxidative capacity of exercising skeletal muscle. Not bad for something that tastes yummy too!
This weekend is Top Shelf – Boutique Drinks festival at Carlton Royal Exhibition Building.
CHOYA is having a booth for Free Tasting! Everyone, come along!!
This Sat & Sun 12pm-6pm
I usually travel to Japan on official sake business; travelling from prefecture to prefecture, sampling the diverse range of sake and food each region has to offer – it’s a tough job I know!
During my travel and brewery visits I am also exposed to the other drinking delights Japan has to offer. The deep earthiness of shochu, the beautiful bitter sweet balance of yuzushu, the ever expanding range of Japanese craft beer and the now world famous whisky of Japan.
One of the gems that shine amongst this amazing range of drinks is umeshu – Japanese plum liqueur. It’s subtle sweetness balanced with a pleasing acidity makes umeshu a wonderful and versatile tipple. Neat, it is the perfect after dinner “sticky”, dare I say better than a dessert wine! On ice it is a sensation summer sipper and its deep, rich plum like flavor makes it a stunning cocktail ingredient.
Having been exposed to umeshu for many years, but not really understanding its heritage I jumped at an invitation from CHOYA, Japan’s best-known umeshu producer to learn more.
Dear Sake Japan Customers,
Thank you very much for your great support always.
Sake Japan has a minor system change recently. Not obvious to the up front but more to inside.
The major change for you will be a postage.
We have achieved to reduce single & double bottles postage all around Australia.
Also, if you purchase over $150, there is no delivery fee for you.
Hopefully, this will give you a little benefit when you shop at Sake Japan.
Again, thank you very much for your support of Sake Japan.
Shop Master / Toshi Maeda