Sushi Gonpachi/© Grape Japan

We Tried a Dassai Sake Pairing Course at Tokyo’s “Kill Bill Restaurant” Sushi Gonpachi

Sushi and sake. You can’t name a more iconic duo, which is why we were delighted when Sushi Gonpachi Nishi Azabu invited us to sample their exclusive Dassai sake pairing course.

Gonpachi’s Nishi Azabu location has attracted many visitors due to the restaurant’s association with Quentin Tarantino’s movie, Kill Bill. A visit to Gonpachi inspired Tarantino so much that he recreated the interior for the famous 'Crazy 88' fight scene, making Gonpachi a sought-after destination for movie buffs.

However, atop this ever-bustling restaurant, on the building’s third floor, is a more serene setting. One of Gonpachi’s specialist sushi restaurants, decked out in warm toned wood and complete with a charming rooftop terrace, inspired by Japanese traditional gardens.

Source: Sushi Gonpachi

Billed as a taste of early summer, the sake pairing course is made to be enjoyed outside on the terrace. But even in the case of bad weather (which sadly befell our visit) you can dine in the classically stylish interior of the restaurant.

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A Starter's Course in Dassai Sake

For those who don’t know where to start with sake, this course could be seen as a great primer to learn all about Japan’s premium sake brand, Dassai.

Dassai’s clear taste is world famous. The secret behind this clarity, is that the rice used is polished until less than 50% remains, stripping away impurities. Each iteration of Dassai has (to the uninitiated) a seemingly random number assigned to it. But, this number actually refers to the percent of rice remaining after polishing. In the case of Dassai 45, the rice is polished down to 45%.

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The renowned sake was even given as a gift by Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe to the then president, Barack Obama, in 2014 during his trip to Japan.

That’s right, this sake is presidentially good.

For those of us who are not leaders of the free world, Gonpachi’s pairing course is a rare chance to taste and compare Dassai’s various grades of sake.

Sushi Gonpachi’s Sake Pairing Course

Source: Sushi Gonpachi

All Gonpachi’s seafood is sourced from the famous Toyosu fish market, and these courses were carefully selected for pairing with various grades of Dassai.

Dassai Katsutori Shochu with soda / Firefly Squid with Vinegared Miso

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The first dish, an appetiser of whole firefly squids with vinegared miso keeps it light and refreshing. The same can be said of the paired beverage of Dassai shochu with soda, which eases you into the stronger stuff. The sparkling soda bubbles accentuate the fragrant notes of the shochu.

Dassai 45 / Sashimi (Bonito/White Fish)

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The second course brings with it the first helping of straight sake, Dassai 45. Gonpachi flaunt their seafood prowess with a no-frills portion of sashimi, letting the taste speak for itself. The flavoursome first catch of the season, both the bonito and the white fish are melt-in-the-mouth fresh.

Dassai 39 / Sakura Shrimp Tempura

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The tempura is expertly fried, stopping far short of being overly oily or heavy. The subtly sweet Dassai 39 accompanies this dish perfectly with a refreshing aftertaste.

Dassai 23 / Grilled Spanish Mackerel

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Along with the fourth course came a measure of Dassai 23, known as Dassai’s crown jewel. Polished down to just 23%, it’s the most highly polished of all commercial grade sake. The lightly sweet notes ring incredibly clear with virtually no aftertaste whatsoever. The smoothness complements the sweet miso sauce generously slathered over the grilled mackerel, garnished with ostrich fern.

Source: Sushi Gonpachi

3 Types of Nigiri / 3 Types of International Roll

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Great attention is paid to presentation throughout, and the fifth course in particular has an artistic flair. Old meets new in an interesting combination, both authentic Edo style nigiri sushi and international rolls share the plate.

Miso Soup

Gonpachi are not stingy when it comes to the drinks, so you may be grateful for the final installment of the course as a chance to sober up a bit. A hearty seaweed miso soup rounds the whole course off nicely in a satisfying fashion.


Dassai Pairing Course: ¥8,000(tax incl.)

Friday, April 26, 2019~End of May (May end early due to limited availability)

SUSHI Gonpachi Nishi-Azabu website

Address:3F 1-13-11 Nishi-Azabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo


※Reservations for parties of two or more available until the day before

By - Jess.