A blitz visit to this recently much talked about region after the opening of the Hokuriku Shinkansen. With the help of the super friendly yet knowledgable Iwase-san of Mikunihare Shuzo, we kicked off by paying a visit to Fumigiku Shuzo after a quick lunch at the slightly touristy ‘fish market canteen’. Said to be a very rare occasion as this recently much hyped maker of ‘Haneya’ seldom opens to the public, we got even luckier to have the iconic Madame Hane to be our tour guide on the day in the midst of their well packed year round production and promotion schedule. Probably the female touch and a relatively modern style, the production facilities are finally the tidy and orderly version one would have expected from the Japanese and yet rarely seen in the more historic breweries we have visited before. The visit of the koji room was a first as well for many of us and the serious preparation before that rivalled those of any surgeon going into the operation theatre another eye opener. More fruity in nature, Haneya’s diligent and yet dynamic approach makes it quite a promising new contender in the ever evolving land of sake.
Not to be outgunned, Iwase-san also led a very interesting visit to his own facilities back at Mikunihare in Kurobe, which major drawcard is certainly its water source, straight down from the Kurobe snow mountains and said to be one of the best in Japan. Being the dominant player in his town, which is a fishing village in nature, much has been done to make sure its style went well with the gorgeous seafood being offered, with special efforts being made by him to blend in well with the local retailing and culinary industries, making him pretty much an ambassador of the area.
Also worth mentioning is certainly the food being offered in the region. From the sea to the mountains, real gems were tasted at nearly every joint we visited. Lightly battered white shrimps, hotate ika sashimi and boiled, highest quality sashi mori that makes Tsukiji looks amateurish, smoked buri, and finally the grilled in season bamboo shoots, this area is certainly a much worthy destination for any foodie.