A Sake Tasting sponsored by Sommeliers Australia was held at “Hanabishi” restaurant, on Tuesday, May 4th, with Mr. Masahiko Iga, the distinguished sommelier of the association (see: Learn the Essence of “Sake” from a Sommelier). There we met Mr. Andre Bishop, who was one of the participants. Mr. Bishop is a pioneer and a trend-setter in current Izakaya and Sake booms in Melbourne. We asked Mr. Bishop about future prospects and challenges for the Sake culture to be embraced in Australia. (Interviewer: Naomi Oshita)[Profile] Andre Bishop
Owner of “Izakaya Chuji”, “Nihonshu shochu & sake Bar” and “Golden Monkey” located in the CBD of Melbourne. Born in Perth, Western Australia. Resides in Melbourne since 1996. Visits Japan at least a couple of times a year.
Year 2000: Opens “Robot”, the first bar in Australia offering a wide range of Japanese Sake and Shochu, on Flinders Lane, CBD Melbourne.
Year 2003: Obtains the management license of the Izakaya restaurant “Chuji” located on Lonsdale Street, CBD Melbourne, and engages in management.
Year 2007: Obtains the title of Certified Sake Professional (Level 1) from The Sake Education Council (http://www.sakeeducationcouncil.org/), an incorporated nonprofit organization officed in Nishi Shinbashi, Tokyo.
Year 2008: Obtains the title of Certified Sake Professional (Level 2) from the Sake Education Council.
Mr. Bishop was influenced by Japanese anime (manga) and video games and became interested in the Japanese culture including the Japanese pop culture (manga, video games) in his childhood in 1970’s to 1980’s. Mr. Bishop brought his adoration to the Japanese culture and memories of manga, such as Gundam, of his childhood into a shape as a bar “Robot”. The “Robot” was the first Australian bar that introduced the Japanese culture and Japanese Sake. The bar was opened back in 2000 and has received strong support and obtained a good reputation from local Melbournians over 10 years since then.
Mr. Bishop’s interests in Japanese Sake and Shochu did not fade even with the success of the bar “Robot”, which was the first bar that embraced the Japanese culture. In 2003, Mr. Bishop bought the management right of the Izakaya restaurant “Chuji”, which has enjoyed a good reputation in Melbourne. Accordingly, Mr. Bishop’s dream of managing an Izakaya (a Japanese style pub) came true. The Izakaya “Chuji” is one of the most popular restaurants in Melbourne and is full with people every night. The Izakaya “Chuji” became so popular that people may find it difficult to find a table without a reservation. Therefore, Mr. Bishop opened a sister restaurant in South Melbourne. There is nothing that stops Mr. Bishop’s growing passion for Japanese Sake and Shochu even with the success of the first and second Izakayas. Soon thereafter, Mr. Bishop opened a third restaurant “Nihonshu shochu & sake Bar” next to the Izakaya “Chuji”. Almost all of (99%) alcoholic beverages stocked in “Nihonshu shochu & sake Bar” are Sake, Shochu and local beers imported from Japan.
Mr. Bishop took Level 1 and Level 2 Sake Professional Courses, which are sponsored by the Sake Education Council, an incorporated nonprofit organization officed in Tokyo, for the purpose of training Sake sommeliers. There, Mr. Bishop broadened his knowledge in Japanese Sake and Shochu through those courses. Mr. Bishop also visited Kizakura Sake brewery in Kyoto and other sake breweries (Kura) in Shimane prefecture, Tottori prefecture and Niigata prefecture, where he took training, while he was in Japan to attend the courses. Mr. Bishop learnt about types of rice, brewing processes and so on from chief sake brewers (Touji) and owners of breweries (Kuramoto). Mr. Bishop visits Japan at least a couple of times a year to expand his passion and knowledge about Sake. However, because Mr. Bishop can communicate only in English with chief sake brewers and owners of breweries, he finds difficulties in mastering all of the delicate sake brewing processes, as some of them are hard be well translated into English. Mr. Bishop’s passion for Japanese culture, which is well shown in his attempts of understanding the unique and delicate Japanese culture, does not seem to fade, but rather is growing bigger and bigger. We sense that Mr. Bishop is still enthusiastic about further introducing the Japanese culture and Japanese sake to even more people in Melbourne.
We couldn’t get a whole picture of future prospects and ongoing projects of Mr. Bishop, who owns four restaurants in Melbourne serving Japanese Sake, Shochu, beer and Izakaya food (similar pub food), because they are highly confidential. However, Mr. Bishop told us that he was interested in running chain shops trading Japanese Sake, Shochu and beer similar to Dan Murphy and setting up businesses of educations relating to Japanese sake and the like in the future. The current challenges Mr. Bishop faces to make his projects into reality are import channels and taxes. There is no other channel but relying on importation from Japan to obtain genuine Sake and other Japanese alcohol beverages. Therefore, price-setting for Sake is difficult because of fluctuations in exchange rate, and further, imported Sake are highly taxed including import tax and alcohol tax. Mr. Bishop meets many difficult challenges, but his passions to the Japanese Sake and the Izakaya culture promise us a progress in his future projects relating to Sake and his success.
Nihonshu shochu & sake Bar
Sipping with the Sake Master #1
Sipping with the Sake Master #2