Hong Kongers love everything Japanese, and I have many friends telling me how much they’ve missed travelling to Japan this year. So it was with great fanfare that we attended the opening of 逸品館 IPPINKAN by The Time Sommelier, a three-month-long Japanese cultural pop-up store at LCX in Harbour City’s Ocean Terminal, officiated by Miss SAKE Hong Kong 2020.

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This concept store is comprised of two areas. The front portion is a retail outlet featuring lifestyle products including delicate Japanese porcelain items, kitchenware, Nishijin-ori bow ties, accessories and fine collectibles.

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At the back is a mini replica of the famous Sakaba at Ponshukan Sake Museum located at three Niigata JR stations, where an entire wall is fitted with sake vending machines featuring 54 sakes. Operation is easy. Just register and pay on the website, choose the sake you would like to taste, use your phone to scan the QR code of your chosen sake and place the masu (wooden cup) at the dispenser, then press the button – 23ml sake of your choice will be ready for you to taste! Most sakes require 2–5 tokens ($20–50), and you can top up with more tokens. The best thing is that the sake selection will be changed regularly, so you can taste something new every time you pop in.

Related: Moto Yakatori & Sake Bar in Tin Hau

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In addition to sake, IPPINKAN stocks a wide range of Japanese wine that’s been specially flown in from Japan for the occasion. Because of its cool climate, Japanese wine is much lighter than others, and an 11–12% alcohol content is the norm. This Sauvignon Blanc from Woody Farm & Winery is pleasantly refreshing.

While international grape varieties like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are grown in the country, Japan is renowned for its own grape varieties of Koshu (甲州), a delicate white wine, and Muscat Bailey A, a hybrid red variety created to adapt to Japan’s climate. Regular wine-tasting sessions will be held in-store.

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But IPPINKAN is not all about alcohol. There are also speciality coffees and teas available such as genmaicha sets and very fragrant barrel-aged coffee made of Brazilian coffee beans aged in sherry casks for three months prior to roasting.

Looking for something to snack on with your sake? There are assorted nuts including whisky-barrel-smoked mixed nuts.

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IPPINKAN is the brainchild of Kenneth Lee from The Time Sommelier, who himself is a huge fan of Japan. He admitted that it was a challenge to organise this project in the midst of COVID-19, but crises always come with opportunities. IPPINKAN aims to bring comfort to Japan-sick customers through cultural experience and carefully selected Japanese products.

IPPINKAN will be open until 10 January 2021. Just look for the drunk dummy at LCX – you can’t miss it!

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A marketer turned winemaker, I make, promote, judge, write about and drink wine.

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