Thursday, May 7, 2009

A New Jersey Excursion: In Search of Beniotome Sesame Shochu

Last week, Rob and I took a trip across the George Washington bridge into the strange and wonderful land that is Fort Lee and Edgewater, New Jersey. We had two destinations in mind: Hudson Wine Market and Mitsuwa Marketplace.

As I've mentioned before, Rob loves Beniotome sesame shochu. He orders it at nearly every trip to Bozu, EN Japanese Brasserie or other high-end Japanese restaurants, but it seems to be impossible to find for retail sale in the city. Fortunately, he found that Hudson Wine Market carries it, and that it would only be a short drive away.

Shochu is a Japanese distilled drink, and Wikipedia says its made from barley, sweet potatoes or rice and is somewhere between wine and whisky in terms of strength (which I agree with completely). The sesame flavored shochu is a little smoky and makes it taste a little stronger than it might actually be. Let it sit in some ice, though, and you'll find that the flavors are very deep and rounded, and that the sesame flavor sings the longest. I'm sipping it now and can't think of any other way to describe it.

Anyway, we had a little bit of difficulty finding the market, as the directions didn't say we had to turn up into a driveway to access a big parking lot for a mini mall. Hudson's was a huge warehouse boasting of all kinds of drinks, from specialized Japanese shochus to obscure reds and whites. I even found a bottle of the 2004 Flowers Pinot noir that I fell in love with at Le Bernadin. And for the $50 price you can bet I bought one. Rob pretty much wiped out their entire selection of Beniotome sesame shochu. To make the trip worth it, you see.

Hudson Wine Market
1638 Schlosser St
Fort Lee, NJ 07024
(201) 346-0101

After the Hudson Wine Market excursion, we headed south to Mitsuwa Marketplace, using the little battery power I had left on my phone for Google maps to guide us. Luckily it was a pretty easy drive. Mitsuwa is a huge Japanese grocery store & specialty shop with an attached food court. They have everything from fresh produce and pickled vegetables to sashimi grade sushi and pre-sliced sukiyaki. I was starving, so we tried a few pre-made sushi rolls, which were okay. We left with a couple of very nicely priced bags of frozen edamame beans, a few packages of red bean moochi and some daikon radish. It's a pretty fun and unique place to just browse around; definitely recommended if you're planning on hosting a sushi party in the near future.

Mitsuwa Marketplace
595 River Road
Edgewater, NJ 07020
(201) 941-9113

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