What goes well with yuzu sake? Why, yuzu pan of course

It’s been raining almost daily, resulting in uncharacteristically cool days for July in Singapore. Perfect weather for some spicy soondubu jjigae and jjukkumi bokkeum at SBCD in Millenia Walk!

After stuffing ourselves, we decided to walk it off by wandering around the nearby Meiji-ya and ended up browsing the sake selection at their liquor shop.

Back in the day when Meiji-ya was located in Liang Court, the liquor section was inside the supermarket itself. But after shifting to Millenia Walk, it’s now operating as a standalone store.

We’ve recently started drinking more sake and I had a few specific bottles in mind that I was hoping would be available there. As I was slowing going through the shelves, The Wife walked over to me and said: “Come, I show you something”, and asked me to follow her to the refrigerated section.

She pointed to a dozen or so bottles that had the words ゆず written prominently on the label, with the brewer’s name 梅乃宿 in smaller font in the top right corner. Apparently this was the seasonal 2021 Aragoshi Nama Yuzushu produced by Umenoyado, an unpasteurised and roughly-crushed version of her favourite yuzu sake.

The Look appeared in her eyes as she lovingly picked up a bottle.

No prizes for guessing what happened next.

After paying up and leaving the liquor shop, we crossed the corridor and entered the popular Gokoku Japanese Bakery. A sunglass-sporting lady in a bright yellow dress with a matching bright yellow hat and red sneakers, was in front of us and visibly agonizing about what to get.

“I really want to buy one of each!” she turned to us and exclaimed. To which I replied: “That’s a lot of bread”, which prompted her immediate reply: “Well, I have a big family!”

She then proceeded to take photos of everything and sent numerous Whatsapp messages to what I assume was her extensive family, asking for their suggestions as she continued to prolong her agony.

We, on the other hand, knew exactly what we wanted and zeroed in on the Yuzu Walnut Komeko bun. Plus a few other choices.

When we got home, the nama yuzushu went straight into the fridge to chill, and a couple of hours later, it was cracked opened and poured out to enjoy. The Wife was feeling fancy and insisted on using a champagne flute to celebrate her lucky find.

We took a sip neat and undiluted but it was a bit too concentrated, and so we dropped in a few ice cubes and it was much more balanced. The problem with drinking from the flute was the tiny volume it held, and we quickly switched to a proper glass tumbler.

Compared with the regular Umenoyado yuzushu, this seasonal version was much more fruity and fresh-tasting. In fact, we couldn’t even detect any sake undernotes although it was clearly present as the alcohol slowly took effect.

The pleasant bitter aftertaste that we’ve come to expect and enjoy was also absent, replaced with the dominant tart citrus flavour. It would have made for a wonderfully refreshing yuzu fruit juice, but it definitely overpowered the underlying nihonshu.

There was a lot of Japanese text on the back label, mainly hiragana with a smattering of kanji and a tiny splash of katakana. I could sort of make out the meaning from just the kanji, but to make sure I wasn’t missing out anything important, I whipped out my trusty Google Translate app, pointed the phone camera at the label and let Google do its magic.

In between sips of the nama yuzushu, we had bites of the yuzu pan. It was nice and chewy, with embedded bits of walnut and yuzu peel. Frankly, they could have put in a lot more yuzu peel for a more pronounced taste, but since we were already drinking a yuzu flavour bomb, they went quite well together.

Overall, the “Aragoshi Cool Yuzu” was delicious, refreshing and would have been perfect on a hot sunny day at the beach. But if I had to choose one yuzu sake, I’d still stick with the original version for a taste that’s unmistakably yuzu, citrusy with a pleasant bitter afternote, swimming in a sea of smooth sake.

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