SHE'S KIND OF A BIG DEAL >>>
Did you know there's a certified sake specialist working in Tacoma?
Did you even know there was such an honor as "certified sake specialist"?
First, there is such a thing. It's similar to being a certified wine sommelier.
Second, you can find one (in the form of Jeannie Han) at TWOKOI Japanese Restaurant in Tacoma's Museum District. A chance meeting between the folks behind TWOKOI, which hosts one of the biggest sake bars in the Northwest, and Han, a South Korean native, gave Tacoma such a treat.
As a youth Han was exposed to sake and the sake making process at a relative's sake brewery in Korea. She'd watch the late fall sake rice harvesting and washing in giant stainless buckets. The rare experience and exposure to sake at such a young age helped shape Han.
"Being surrounded the by the sake making process and sake drinking relatives and family, it was only natural that I work my way through college as a bar back and bartender," Han explains. It was during this period of her life when Han discovered Makolli - a cloudy nigori sake - only increading her passion for sake.
After Han joined the TWOKOI team, co-owners Jerry Hyman and Jackie Young Koh encouraged her to document her immense sake knowledge. By taking classes Han became an official Level 1 Certified Sake Specialist as distinguished by the Japanese Sake Educational Council in November 2009.
"It was very educational and thorough and had the most comprehensive sake lectures on earth - not all participants passed," says Han.
Han is well versed in TWOKOI's large variety of premium sakes - and she should be. As TWOKOI's floor manager and sake specialist, she hand picks all of the sakes offered at TWOKOI, rotating the menu of more than 40 different sakes to keep selections fresh. Her expertise doesn't stop there. Han also creates seasonal sake cocktails; leads private sake tasting dinners (sometimes in conjunction with sushi making classes led by executive chef Koh), and recently introduced sake samplers. Han calls coming up with new ways to present sake to the public her "enjoyable responsibility."
I call it brilliant.
Join Han and the Weekly Volcano's Nosh League at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 14 at TWOKOI for an extraordinary sake tasting experience. The cost is $15 per person. In order to attend, you must first join the Nosh League here, and then RSVP to the event here.
TwoKoi Japanese Cuisine
1552 Commerce St., Tacoma