Kurage, Tsuyoshi Miyashita Select,
Amakusa Shuzo & Co. Genuine Potato Shochu Ikenotsuyu
At mealtime, pairing drinks with the food is essential. Kurage complements its dishes with shochu from Amakusa Shuzo & Co., the sole brewery in Amakusa, operating since 1899.
Chef Miyashita first learned about Yutaka Hirashita of Amakusa Shuzo over 10 years ago when he came across an article about Mr. Hirashita in a nationally popular magazine among food enthusiasts.
For Chef Miyashita, who had lived in Amakusa until the age of 18 before leaving to pursue his trade, information about local brewing was non-existent. Despite only a one-year age difference between him and Mr. Hirashita, whom he read about in a magazine after returning home, Chef Miyashita expressed a sense of jealousy. “I was jealous because we were only one year apart, and he was featured in a magazine.” At the age of 34, he met Mr. Hirashita at a drinking party and shared his feelings. They have remained friends ever since.
At Kurage, where the theme revolves around a “marriage of Amakusa,” interacting with such a creator is essential.
Mr. Hirashita, who bears a striking resemblance to Miyashita and shares the same passionate love for his hometown, was born and raised at Amakusa Shuzo. He pursued fermentation studies at Tokyo University of Agriculture and currently crafts shochu.
He mentions that he doesn’t mind if not everyone chooses to drink it. Prioritizing handcraftsmanship over productivity is not something everyone can emulate.
Seventeen years ago, Mr. Hirashita revived Ikenotsuyu, a genuine potato shochu that has since become his signature brand, renowned for its versatility. He says that it took a lot of time and effort to create a taste that complements the diverse array of poultry, meat, and fish in Amakusa cuisine.
The label depicts the view from the brewery, showcasing Amakusa’s scenery from its only brewery.
He is particular about handcrafting it, and his company produces its own raw materials. With great respect for farmers and a firsthand understanding of hard work, being a shochu expert, he cultivates potatoes and rice suitable for use in shochu production.
The straw remaining after rice harvest is used in Kurage’s kitchen. Chef Miyashita comments, “I use it for grilling Spanish mackerel over straw and creating smoked soy sauce. I want people to experience the essence of Amakusa, even in subtle ways. This is possible because of my connection with the maker.”
Sample Amakusa Shuzo’s shochu and savor Kurage’s sushi. In Amakusa, the sea is bountiful yet rugged.
Contemplate the view from the brewery.
合同会社 天草酒造 KANPAIAMAKUSA
Amakusa Shuzo & Co., Kanpai Amakusa
Address: 11808 Komiyaji, Shinwamachi, Amakusa City, Kumamoto Prefecture
Tel.: 0969-46-2013 Business hours: 11:00–16:00 (closed Wed.) *Subject to change depending on supplies and the weather. Check it out on Instagram.
Instagram @ ikenotsuyu_amakusa_distillery