On July 18th we attended our very first Sumo Party, Sumo Stew XV. Although it was hosted at Brooklyn Brewery in Williamsburg, we felt like we were transported to Japan for the evening.
Guests at 15th Sumo Stew, were handed a bento box box, 2 drink tickets and a beer token upon entering the transformed space. The brewery was full of things Japanese. We sampled Japanese whiskey from Nikka Whiskey. I loved the delicious Nikka Coffey Grain Whiskey served in their signature cocktail and topped with toasted sesame seeds, it tasted like a Japanese twist of an iced Irish Coffee.
Sake was offered from Vine Connections; we tasted Kizakura Brewery from Kyoto, the birthplace of sake, and their new “Bushido” can, named after the ancient Japanese samurai code. Refreshing shochu was offered from Mizu Shochu, the smooth 70-proof spirit was given neat or on ice with a slice of cucumber. There was also an assortment of green teas from Ito En, the global leaders in green tea. Of course the brewery had a selection of draft beers, from their year-round offerings, seasonal pours, and limited availability brews, including Sorachi Ace, an unfiltered golden farmhouse ale named after the Sorachi region of Hokkaido, Japan.
Once we had our refreshing drinks in hand, we sat down family style at communal benches to watch sumo matches from Japan while enjoying our meal. This was the first time many us watched an actual sumo match. Sumo is a Japanese style of wrestling and Japan’s national sport. It originated in ancient times as a performance to entertain the Shinto deities. Many rituals, such as the symbolic purification of the ring with salt, are still followed today. Very similar to American wrestling matches, a rikishi loses when any part of his body other than the bottoms of their feet touch the dohyo or if he is pushed or thrown outside the ring. No sumo match could be complete with out a sumo stew, Chankonabe, which is the traditional meal eaten by sumo wrestlers before a match. Moku Moku served us a delicious lamb chankonabe. It a was a hearty flavorful rib sticking stew, full of all kinds of vegetables and tons of protein in a rich dashi and lamb broth.
In addition to the stew, every guest received a bento box composed of Japanese-inspired dishes from top local chefs. The box consisted of Hiyashi Chukka (cold ramen) with country ham, snow peas and benne seeds, Takoyaki (tempura octopus balls) by Karls Balls, yuba maki simmered in dashi from Ni Japanese Deli, and my personal favorite component, a tender chicken thigh yakitori from Yakitori by Neal. For dessert we were treated an assortment of frozen mochi, a premium ice cream wrapped in a delicate, sweet rice dough by Mr. Mochi, it made the perfect ending, where the entire meal highlighted the flavors Osaka, Japan.
For those who wanted a Japanese keepsake, vendors like Wuhao New York sold tenuguis, traditional hand dyed Japanese cotton towels, and made an exclusive pattern just for Sumo Stew! Kaede NYC, a unique fashion consultancy that specializes in Japanese kimono rental, styling and sales, were also there selling yukata sets and kimono jackets, as well as rental yukatas to be worn at the event. Bokksu offered a monthly premium Japanese snack subscription box service and if you wanted some more eats, vendors were also selling food outside the brewery.
This event was different from the norm, but it was definitely fun to try something new, taste something new, and learn about a new culture. Being that this was the 15th Sumo Stew, this event is here to stay. The next one will be held in Portland, Oregon on Sept 12th. If all the above sounded like something you would also enjoy, then keep your eyes open, they will be coming back in New York in the future.