I've never forgotten the evening I delved pretty deeply into shochu. It was dinner at a Japanese friend's house in Echo Park, ostensibly a beautiful, light dinner of steamed vegetables and tofu.
She'd just brought back some bottles of shochu, the powerful alcohol, from Japan. And we started drinking and kept drinking. Fun, and no hangover the next day. The experience is similar to knocking back Russian vodka with a series of small dishes. But you just don't encounter it all that often.
Want to bone up on shochu? Torrance-based JapanUp! magazine is sponsoring an event at Monsoon Cafe in Santa Monica at which you can sample the distilled alcohol made from such diverse ingredients as barley, buckwheat, sweet potatoes or rice.
At least 15 producers will be pouring and you can match the shochu with dishes from the cafe. Laughter provided by Rome Kanda, a Japanese comedian and actor.