April 30, 2024

At Kawachi in Leesburg, Anna Hu Shares the Art and Science of Sake to Complement Japanese Cuisine

1.6 min read| Published On: April 30th, 2024|

By Gina Horan

At Kawachi in Leesburg, Anna Hu Shares the Art and Science of Sake to Complement Japanese Cuisine

1.6 min read| Published On: April 30th, 2024|

“Kanpai!” Kawachi’s Anna Hu takes her sake seriously.

The word ‘Kanpai’ means “Cheers” or to “drink one’s glass dry” in Japanese. 

When I first visited Kawachi in Leesburg I felt like I was back home in my San Francisco neighborhood where you couldn’t swing a lucky ceramic cat without hitting a sushi joint. 

After I ordered enough Maguro, Ebi, Hamachi and house specialty rolls to feed a sumo wrestler, I glanced behind the bar and noticed the plethora of beautiful bottles filled with sake. Cold unfiltered? Flights? 

Was I dreaming?

No, I was not. The shared dream of Anna Hu and her husband, Mason Ma, to bring these delights and traditions to Leesburg became a reality last August. 

“I like to drink,” Anna says. “And I love to share my passion for sake because a lot of customers don’t know anything about it.” 

Anna says people will drop in for a bento box or hibachi meal because those delights are widely known and feel safe on the American palate. However, she’s noticed that people become much more open to trying sake once they experiment with sushi combinations. 

“The people that order the nigiri and sashimi are the ones who are most likely to try sake because they want to take a chance or they have experience with this type of cuisine,” Anna says.

Sake is basically wine made from polished rice, water and yeast that weighs in at about 15% alcohol by volume. There are various types of sake including sparkling, hot, cold, flavored and premium. It’s also known for lessening the chance of a hangover because of the simple, clean ingredients. 

Anna carries an impressive array of sake brands like Nigori, Tyku and Hana. And she continues to seek more. 

“People have only heard of warm sake but there are so many types that once we start to educate the public, we can find something that suits their needs,” she says.  

Anna also likes to experiment with other spirits to create tropical drinks and house-made specialties. 

“I can even make a nice martini from sake and Tito’s vodka,” she says. 

At Kawachi, Anna is either behind the bar or floating around the dining room every day sharing her love of sake, sushi and hospitality. 

With that, if you are still skeptical about trying sake, Anna will be happy to guide you into the wonderful world of this distinctly Japanese favorite. 

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About the Author: Gina Horan

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