There’s a reason why they call this the “phantom sake”.

If you were to ask anyone in Japan to name a famous, high-quality Japanese sake, the name “Dassai” would inevitably come up in the conversation. In fact, Dassai has become so popular and sought after in recent years that it’s sometimes referred to as “phantom sake” due to the fact that it’s so hard to find in stores.

So when news of a pop-up Dassai event to showcase a brand new sake parfait began circulating on the Internet, people were so eager to secure tickets that the system jammed and reservations had to be temporarily suspended. When reservations resumed, for one day only, our Japanese-language reporter Idate Ayaka fought it out online and came out successful, securing one of the few places left available.

Part of what made the event so popular was the fact that it would be held at a very unique location: the Ogasawara Hakushaku Residence in Tokyo’s Shinjuku.

Built in the early Showa period (1926-1989), this grand residence features a Spanish architectural style with decorative elements rarely seen in Japan.

When Ayaka arrived at the residence for the Dassai event, the beautiful grounds and mosaic tile floors made her feel as if she’d been transported to Spain.

The unusual surroundings added some unique flair and excitement to the event, but what everyone had really come here for was the delicious Dassai parfait. And as soon as Ayaka was seated inside, a staff member immediately brought over a long-stemmed glass filled with gorgeous layers of cream and muscat grapes.

▼ But the parfait wasn’t complete until it received a fresh espuma topping.

Behold the Dassai parfait!

Created by pastry chef Yujiro Shikata, this parfait has been perfectly designed to complement the flavour of the sake featured in the espuma, which is the Dassai 39, a Junmai Daiginjo made with Yamada Nishiki rice polished to 39 percent.

This is a very premium sake that retails for 3,965 yen (US$37.55) for a 720-millilitre (24.3-ounce) bottle. When used to create the espuma, the sake is mixed with a dash of water, dropping its alcohol content to around 9 percent so the aroma and sweetness of the sake can be enjoyed without any harsh hint of alcohol to interfere with the flavours.

Ayaka says this was her first time to ever taste Dassai, given that it’s so hard to get at her nearby liquor store, so she was extra excited for the first bite of her parfait. She gathered up a big dollop of the espuma on her spoon, raised it to her lips, and…wow! It had a gentle sweetness that spread out over her taste buds, and it was fluffy, slightly sweet, and insanely delicious!

Everything inside this delicate glass was high-quality, including juicy muscat grapes from Okayama Prefecture and fresh Japanese nashi pears from Chiba Prefecture. The sweet yet slightly tart fruits helped to bring out the refreshing, fruity notes in the sake, which were backed up with delicious layers of sake ice cream.

This special ice cream was expertly made with sake lees and brewer’s rice to create a unique twist on a Riz au lait (French rice pudding). And gracing the top of the parfait were two crunchy “chips” made from baked Yamada Nishiki rice.

With so many unique sake elements, the parfait was a true celebration of Dassai’s craftsmanship, and as she dug deeper into the dessert, Ayaka found herself enjoying the rich flavours of elder flower cream cheese, which worked to highlight the sake’s umami notes.

All of the various ingredients used in the parfait worked brilliantly to showcase both the refreshing fruitiness and umami richness of the sake at different times throughout the dessert.

Ayaka liked the parfait so much she decided to pair it with a glass of sparkling Dassai, which cost 1,000 yen for a 180-millilitre bottle.

Sipping the sake while eating the parfait allowed Ayaka to intensify the flavours even further, and it didn’t take long before she understood the reason for the “phantom” sake’s widespread appeal. Its refined flavour and refreshing aftertaste made it wonderfully easy to drink, and Ayaka would even go so far as to say it was one of the best tipples she’d ever tasted.

Priced at 1,650 yen plus tax, this is a luxury parfait that’s worth splurging on. And if you’d like to try Dassai in another unusual form, there’s also a range of Ghost and Dracula macarons available for a limited time until the end of October.

The macarons are sold in sets of three small ghosts or a dracula and one small ghost, for 700 yen. All the macarons contain Dassai sake and sake lees.

While reservations for the Dassai Parfait have already sold out, it’s still possible to get lucky with a reservation in the case of cancellations. Here’s hoping the event, which is scheduled to end on 31 October, returns again in future due to popular demand.

Now that Ayaka’s had a taste of the sake on everyone’s lips as one of the country’s best, she’s keen to hone her taste buds on some other unique Dassai collaborations, including these Dassai Matcha Truffles…and these crunchy Dassai karinto crackers.

Bar Information
Ogasawara Hakushaku Residence (Oga Bar by Ogasawara Hakushaku Residence)/ 小笠原伯爵邸 (OGA BAR by 小笠原伯爵邸)
Address: Tokyo-to, Shinjuku-ku, Kawada-cho 10-10
Open: 11:30 a.m.-8:00 p.m.(L.O. および商品購入は19:30まで)

Photos © SoraNews24
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

[ Read in Japanese ]