Sometimes even with the best forward-planning in the world, things still don’t turn out the way you want them to. We have been planning to release a new chocolate called “Tokyo” since 2017, to coincide with the biggest event on the planet this year, but the much-anticipated Tokyo 2020 Olympics has to be postponed due to the pandemic.
As 2020 has not been a very pleasant year for everyone, rather than delaying the release of our “Tokyo” also, we have decided to launch it this year, to keep to our schedule. (Also we are too excited about the flavour and we don’t think we can keep this quiet for any longer.)
We have had a few ideas on what flavour “Tokyo” should be in the last few years, but last year we finally settled on Sake Lees & Yuzu. “Sake what?” I hear you cry. So here’s a quick lesson on sake lees:
As you may know, Japanese sake (or also known as nihonshu) is an alcoholic drink made by fermenting rice that has been polished. Sake lees is the leftover at the end of the sake production process, when the fermented rice mash is compressed and the sake is expressed from the mash – usually the mixture is placed in bags and then pressed . The residue left behind is the sake lees (also known as sake kasu). It is a white paste with the flavour of the sake but also a complex umami taste to it due to the fermentation – this umami taste is not usually in the sake itself. Sake lees is used in many Japanese food recipes.
Sake lees is hard to find in the UK, but last year when I studied for the WSET Sake Awards Level 3, I learnt that there’s a sake brewery in South London called Kanpai (they are also on Instagram and Twitter) . It wasn’t long before I visited this first sake brewery in the UK, and tried their range of sake. When I talked to Kanpai’s founder Tom, I discovered that he actually had sake kasu, and so it’s like all the stars starting to line up for our “Tokyo”.
After a few attempts with different sake lees, we ended up with the sake lees from Kanpai’s Sumi, their award-winning signature sake. This sake is an easy introduction to the world of sake for someone new to this drink, but also a versatile alcohol to pair with a lot of food. The sake lees has a more punchy complex umami flavour balanced with an apple and fruity note, and it works particularly well with our wild Bolivian milk. However, we felt that there’s something missing to bring the elements together, and in the end the addition of a touch of yuzu was what’s needed to give a rounded flavour.
Whilst the Olympics may not be happening this year, we are still bringing you Tokyo 2020, in the form of a new Asian-flavoured chocolate, collaborating with an exciting British sake brewery from London. This flavour is available in our Personal Selection boxes.