Sake Sound Party? The world is divided into two categories of people: those who grew up with manga and those who did not. And those who, like me, spent 90% of their pocket money on manga know what it meant to go on a pilgrimage to a comic book store in the late 1990s and very early 2000s. In Faenza there was only one, not even too well stocked, but luckily I went to school in Ravenna and there was one there with some real goodies! I grew up with the myth of Japan, with cherry blossom trees forming pink carpets, with kisses that were never given, with sailor-style school uniforms outlining romantic love affairs in which one touches oneself with one's thoughts even before one's bodies.

Cherry Blossom Japan

Issei Rooftop at Radisson Hotel Collection Santa Sofia Milan: a special invitation

Origami reminds me of my dad making a microscopic boat out of 1 square of 0.4 mm paper, after carefully cutting it out of a notebook and folding it numerous times with his big fingers. And literature! I fell in love with Banana Yoshimoto when I was 14, so much so that I have collected (and collect) every one of her books ever since. Natsume Soseki has become my favourite writer over time, but also Yuko Mishima, Kawabata Yasunari... and Japanese cuisine? Today I could give up Italian cuisine for Japanese, so much so that at home I have 5 number forks and lots of chopsticks! Finally 7 years ago I started working for a Japanese wine importer - Akiyoshi Tsuda - and when I finally got my book too Sommelier: the illustrated manual will be translated into Japanese I will have realised one of my biggest dreams! This foreword just to say how enthusiastically I accepted the invitation of Alessia Rizzetto for the Sake Sound Party at the Radisson Collection Hotel Santa Sofia in Milan (which is also a stone's throw from my house).

Sake sound party Radisson collection

Radisson Collection Hotels is a chain of luxury hotels that aims to offer its guests exclusive services by fulfilling their every wish. ISSEI Rooftopthe panoramic restaurant with nikkei-inspired cocktail bar on the top floor with a splendid view over the rooftops of Milan, celebrates Japan with Sake Sound Party, five events dedicated to Japanese art in its different forms. For those unfamiliar with it, Nikkei cuisine originated with Japanese immigrants in Peru and is a fusion cuisine that incorporates elements of both countries. In fact, if one pays attention to the somatic traits of some Latin American regions, they are very close to those of the Far Eastern populations.

Radisson collection hotels santa sofia rooftop

Bars on hotel rooftops are very fashionable in Milan and after all, it is wonderful to have a drink while admiring the city skyline. The décor of the bar - red, semi-darkness, velvet, mirrors - reminds me of certain Parisian atmospheres with bohemian who enjoy life in their own way, without conventions and impositions, rich only in imagination and improvisation. A fascinating contrast to Japanese minimalism and order.


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Sake Sound Party: cocktails and finger food

Not only Nikkei cuisine, but cocktails can also be a fusion of Japan and Peru. Latin America and the Far East come together sip by sip thanks to the talent of the bar manager Marco Masiero with the collaboration of Sake Company. And so it is that South American Pisco dances with Japanese ginger sake. The result? A truly enjoyable drink that also drinks too well.

Sake Sound Party cocktails

Yuzu is a citrus fruit native to East Asia, particularly cultivated in Japan, Korea and China. It looks similar to a small grapefruit, with a rough, yellow (or green, if not fully ripe) skin. Organoleptically, it has a unique scent that can be described as a cross between a mandarin and a lemon. The Kodakara yuzu sake from the ancient company Tatenokawa Shuzo combines the delicate sweetness of saké with the freshness and aromaticity of yuzu.

Ginger sake

Lo Yuzu Paloma is the simplest cocktail among those proposed: impossible not to like it! Delicate, very fresh and low in alcohol despite the presence of the tequila. Perfect on its own to open the evening, but if you really want to pair it with a fingerfood it is definitely the exquisite marinated chicken proposed by the talented chef Chiara Di Salvo the best choice!

Kodama Pisco marinated chicken issei rooftop milan

The Kodakara dry ginger company sake Tatenokawa Shuzo blends the sweet tendency of sake with the pungency of ginger.

Ginger Sake

In the cocktail Kodama Pisco (the one I preferred) blends perfectly with the cucumber and balances the slightly smoky note of the pisco. Perfect in combination with salmon and beef fingerfood tartare.

Kodama Pisco Yuzu Sake

The Tanuki Bloom cocktail is labelled 'Amabuki Sakè Kasu Sochu', but it is a paper error as theAmabuki Sakè Kasu is precisely a type of sake while the Sochu (Shōchū) is a traditional Japanese spirit made from sweet potatoes, barley or, more rarely, rice similar to vodka. The cocktail is based on Sochu Tensor Kourin from Kagura Shuzo (Thanks to Akiyoshi for the invaluable help reading the labels!).


The cocktail is fragrant thanks to the lavender and lovers of contrasts can combine it with the smoky note of the gyoza, which is also very aromatic thanks to the coriander.

Food issei rooftop milan

I was not able to taste the Negroni variation because it was finished (I made the strategic mistake of saving it for last as it was the strongest cocktail on offer), but I can tell you that it was prepared with this sake called Asagiri and known as a pure sake as it contains only rice, koji and water. The one in the photo below is Kuribayashi Brewing & Co.'s Sake Junmai Red Label Harukasumi which shares with the one on the Konishi Kokuagari Sake menu the junmai type, i.e. without added alcohol (all alcohol comes from fermentation).

Chiara di Salvo chef issei rooftop

I only got to talk to this very young chef for a few minutes at the counter, but she made a very good impression on me. Very knowledgeable and very passionate, I hope to have the opportunity to learn more about her talent.

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Chiara Bassi book sommelier illustrated manual

Sommelier: the illustrated manual

All my notes on wine and food in one book. Maximum portability to study where you want, when you want... and even with your smartphone unloaded! To all aspiring sommeliers... drink the wolf! 😄🐺🍷🍀

Chiara Bassi

Sake Sound Party: the Japanese shodo

A great passion of mine since high school was drawing and painting with brush and Indian ink pens, so much so that I did all the illustrations in my book Sommelier: the illustrated manual with this technique. I loved and adore the monochromatic cleanliness, often broken up by a single red detail (my all-time favourite colour). I loved and adore the precision they require. I loved and adore that you can't make a mistake: one smudge is enough to have to start all over again. This requires a concentration that I would almost call meditative: when you have the Indian ink in your hand there is nothing else but what you want to represent and you think about it really hard, a thought that I would almost call multidimensional. Perhaps this is why I see the Japanese shodoChinese shufa and Korean seoye even higher than an art form.

Cover book sommelier chiara bassi

Curiously, I discovered today while writing this article that the only technique I have ever used is a painting style from the Far East. It makes me smile to remember how much I used to fight with my teachers at the Liceo Artistico who tried to impose watercolours, oil colours, pastels... and nothing, I only used black Indian ink with very thin brushes of ox or boar hair that I chose with great care.

Until now, I had only seen this technique used in Korean TV series (I can think of Guardian: The Lonely and Great God or more simply Goblins, a must-see!) and for this reason the possibility of admiring Hiroe Namba trying shoda live was beautiful for me. What I asked her to write to me though is a secret....

Japanese shodo

Sake Sound Party: origami

This event unlocked a very sweet memory for me: my dad used to make a small origami with a square of notebook paper in the shape of a small boat. He had big fingers and would fold it with a toothpick. He did this everywhere, even when he was talking to people at the bar and then when he was finished he would give the microscopic little boat to his interlocutor. I took those little boats for granted, but it is another gesture of his that I miss so much.

Japanese origami at the Radisson collection

Being able to make my first crane with Yuzuko Sudo was so nice that I ordered this origami paper on Amazon in anticipation of making lots of little boats and lots of cranes.

Origami milan

I discovered that with origami you can make beautiful earrings that have the advantage of being very light and can be worn all day long!

Chiara bass origami earrings

Sake Sound Party: irezumi

Irezumi is a traditional Japanese tattoo technique characterised by large designs - which can occupy large areas of the body - filled with bright colours. Boasted by members of the yacuza, the Japanese mafia, they actually have very ancient origins estimated at around 10,000 B.C., but it is only around the Kufon period (300-600 A.D.) that they began to be used to brand criminals. Around the Edo period (1603-1867), irezumi also began to take on a decorative and protective symbolism and were also open to honest people, albeit still from the lowest social stratum of the population. Nowadays, tattoos have become popular among young people who tend towards a Western model, but curiously, in many public places (spas, fitness centres, offices...) visibly tattooed people are forbidden to enter.

Japanese Irezumi

Having a cosmic rejection towards tattoos - I apologise to all the tattooed sommeliers who read me - and not being able to stand skin drawn even with colours that can be washed with soap and water, I share with you the beautiful Peony that my friend Valentina had drawn. In Japan the peony is a symbol of immortality as opposed to Italy where it is an emblem of the fleeting nature of time due to the brevity of its blooming.

Irezumi Japanese tattoos

The original irezumi have nothing to do with the machine-made tattoos in our latitudes. They are handmade with a wooden handle tied to metal needles with silk threads and are very painful, very expensive and very long to make. A single tattoo covering a certain part of the body can take up to five years and €30,000.

Radisson Collection Hotel & Issei Rooftop: Japanese evenings on the programme

This was just the press preview, the real Sakè Sound Party has yet to begin! Every Friday, starting 31 May, you can enjoy top-quality cocktails in this special ambience with delicious nikkei fingerfood accompanied by the DJ Hiroko Hacci. The evenings planned are:

  • 31 May: irezumi with Claudio Pittan
  • 7 June: origami with Yuzuko Sudo
  • 14 June: shodo with Hiroe Namba
  • 21 June: shodo with Hiroe Namba
  • 28 June: origami with Yuzuko Sudo

For information and bookings: write an e-mail to Have fun!