Depth of the Sake Experience – LY YOULIN
It is impossible to brew delicious sake without impeccable water and the mellow flavor of rice. Sake is one of the cultures that has been inherited and refined with the blessings of the Japanese climate, through generations of repeated trial and error coupled with the wisdom and technology of the master craftsmen. To protect the tradition, quality, and reputation of “Sake”, the Japan Sake Brewing Youth Council has formed a group of young brewers called “Sake Samurai”. One Sake Samurai, currently in France, Ly Youlin, is working hard every day to convey the splendor of sake to many people.
Ly Youlin met sake when he studied abroad in Japan in high school. After spending time in Kyoto with a working holiday visa, he moved to France and opened “Izakaya Youlin”. In 2010, he opened “SOLA”, and in 2011,  it received one Michelin star. In 2015 he started his company, “La Maison DuSake”, which plays a key role in both restaurant and marketing.What compelled Youlin to love sake so much? “I can’t forget the shock I received when I tasted sake with sushi for the first time,” said Youlin. He  met various types of sake at the izakaya(Japanese bar) where he worked while he was in Kyoto on a working holiday visa. He encountered a variety of sake there, and as he was able to distinguish the differences, he was increasingly attracted to the complexity and depth of sake. For Youlin, his sake origin story is “sake coexists with food”.
In France, where not many people have the image of “sake” being delicious,  He made use of his experience and started pairing sake with food as his strength. His concept  that “water, rice, and people” are indispensable for sake brewing is reflected in La Maison Du Sake. Restaurant ERH was named after the initials “Eau (Water)”, “Riz (Rice)” and “Homme (People)”.When recommending customers sake for pairings, Restaurant ERH does not dare to tell the name of the sake to be paired. “By doing so, the customers were impressed by the deliciousness of the sake they enjoyed without any bias, and the customers then began to spread sake around by themselves”, said Youlin. Currently he is interested in sake from Nagano. He said the sake from Nagano that is paired with food is particularly popular. The sake made in Nagano, where there is an abundance of clear water and the rich sake rice is grown,  is characterized by the impact and richness of the taste and also the acidity close to fruits that other sake do not have, so it is paired with an apéritif (appetizer).It is also preferred by those who are new to sake and those who are not very familiar with it. In France it goes quite well with cheese offered after meals. Youlin said he feels the negative ions from the forests when tasting the impeccable water in Nagano Prefecture with its “umami”. He believes that the moment you put sake into your mouth, you can feel the appeal of sake made by the beautiful “water” of Nagano prefecture, the carefully cultivated “rice”, and the “people” who, hand in hand, pour their hearts into it. Youlin is thinking of developing a more local brewery from now on, focusing on the climate of Nagano Prefecture and the passion of the sake brewers.
Even in an era when many things are changing rapidly, it is not too much to say that protecting sake,  which symbolizes a Japanese climate that does not lose its beauty, is equivalent to protecting the dignity of history and culture that has deep roots in the land. The battle of Sake Samurai continues to express the attractiveness of Japan through sake.
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