Shochu and Tapas – AYA – Opened in 2013 and located in Midtown East on East 50 th Street, the restaurant conceptualizes Japanese cuisine with European tapas, and offers uniquely crafted small plates. The restaurant seats a total of 50, and has a bar counter that seats 12. We strive in creating an urban oasis, where friends and families, small to large numbers, can enjoy a precious dining experience, or that special moment. Ayako Otake, the founder and renowned as New York’s first Shōchū sommelier, invites you to experience her unique pairings of tapas and the city’s largest collection of over 40 different Shōchū brands.

Why do we drink Shōchū?

Shōchū is a traditional Japanese liquor that has been produced for well over 5 centuries. Especially, the authentic Shōchū which is called as “Honkaku Shōchū” is processed through the single distillation of natural ingredients to preserve the taste. Compared with Sake, Shōchū is low in calories and with zero carbohydrates, considered the most popular alcoholic drink among the Japanese people. It is classified worldwide as the distilled spirit to complement any cuisine. It can be enjoyed neat, on the rocks, with hot or cold water or in recent boom years, mixing Shōchū and club soda called the Shōchū Hi-Ball, or more traditionally, the variety of Shōchū based cocktails, known as Chu-hi. In any case, Shōchū is popular among all ages and genders. More than 90% of the Shōchū is made in the Kyushu region. The natural ingredients used are specific to the region, but the most common types of Shōchū are barley, sweet potato, rice, brown sugar, buckwheat, sesame seed, and along with the Awamori made in Okinawa, there are almost 1000 different brands. In Japan, where Sake is commonly consumed during celebratory occasions, Shōchū is widely enjoyed as your “ordinary drink,” at the dinner table. The alcohol content for common brands are between 20 to 30%.