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May 16, 2008 01:39 PM

Mirin in the Boston area?

I recently attended a cooking class sponsored by the Japan Society of Boston. The chef, who lives in Tokyo, said that authentic mirin is not available locally. I found some "Sushi Chef" mirin at a local grocery store, but would love to find the real thing.

I would also appreciate recommendations for cooking and drinking sake.

Thanks for any advice in advance.

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  1. Most Asian food stores (Reliable in Union Square and the shop in Porter Exchange) carry several imported varieties. The selection at Super 88 is not as good.

    I'm not sure what "authentic" mirin is, but I try to get mirin that doesn't have sugar added - it should be naturally sweet (look for naturally brewed, avoid anything with HFCS in the ingredients list, like the basic bottle of Kikkoman).

    1. This sounds a lot like the sushi chef/instructor who said you cannot find Japanese sushi chefs in town despite a few examples to the contrary. Wonder if it's the same guy.

      I get Mirin at Reliable as well. The sake selection at Downtown wine and spirits is getting better all the time. I'm no sake expert but I enjoy tasting new varieties. If you can, try to get your hands on the sake list at O Ya and sample them as your wallet allows.

      1 Reply
      1. re: yumyum

        Whole Foods sells Aji no Haha mirin under the Eden label. It is simply rice, koji (the bacteria that causes fermentation), water and salt, and is the best you will find. All of the mirins produced in the US (even with Japanese labeling) are required by law to contain HCFS - no shock there, the law being that naturally fermented grain with alcohol content is whiskey, and mirin producers are not allowed to make whiskey. Another excellent brand you might find, although I haven't seen it here, is Mitoku Macrobiotic.

        If you look into most Japanese restaurant and home kitchens, however, all you will find is the kikkoman garbage.

        The above post is correct about reliable, but Kotobukiya only has HCFS sweetened varieties (no matter how fancy they appear.)

      2. most of the asian markets have it, including the 88supermarkets. its a good brand we use back in asia.

        unless he means authentic as in the super high quality ones you can only get locally in japan.....

        1. Thanks to all of you for your advice. The mirin I found at the grocery store lists fructose as the second ingredient, so I was not optimistic. I thought I would only find the real thing at a specialty liquor store, so it is nice to learn about alternatives.

          The chef, Keiko Hayashi, is a very nice knowledgable woman, but she is not familiar with the local scene.

          I appreciate the input, and would welcome more. I'm making this a summer project.

          10 Replies
          1. re: chowfamily

            I am a new resident to Boston after 3 years in Tokyo, and I was lucky enough to have taken classes with Keiko Hayashi for several years. She is a wonderful teacher and visits Boston once or twice a year. I brought some groceries with me as I was concerned about the availability in Boston, the mirin that I use is Takara Mirin and looks as though it is available in the US through special orders.

            The website is and this is the mirin used in most Japanese homes. I have also heard that there are some Japanese grocery stores in the Porter Square area.

            Good luck on the mirin hunt! I am having friends in Japan send me care packages of some basics for Japanese cuisine until I can find supplies here in Boston.

            1. re: truro

              Takara mirin is a yummy product, but the one available here in the states is their sake plus HFCS. It is made in Hawaii. The ingredients are not listed on the label, but I contacted the company by email and they replied with the ingredient list. Takara mirin can be effectively duplicated by substituting inexpensive sake plus sugar.

              1. re: truro

                Thank you for your input. I checked the website you helpfully posted, but it seems they cannot ship to Massachusetts under local liquor restrictions. It might be something to keep in mind in requesting care packages.

                Your experience is appreciated on this interesting, diverse board.

              2. re: chowfamily

                Here's a list of mirin (and vinegar) sold at Kotobukiya at Porter Square.


                1. re: steinpilz

                  The intarwebs is a magical thing. Thanks for posting this.

                  1. re: steinpilz

                    Another thanks. This is a very helpful site.

                    1. re: chowfamily

                      You're welcome yumyum and chowfamily, thanks for all your good comments on Chowhound.

                      1. re: steinpilz

                        I love you man. No really, I've had a few emails off board from friends wanting to leave CH because it's gotten so ... value-free? It's posts from folks like you that make it a place I come back to. This will be swiped, but I hope you have a chance to see it before it does. Keep on posting!

                        1. re: yumyum

                          Thanks very much yumyum. Though I have made harsh remarks here, and elsewhere, and I'm also a bit of a contrarian.

                2. I purchased some at Martignetti's on Comm Ave/Harvard St. a while back.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: bostonbroad

                    I think you mean Marty's. They do have a surprising selection of cooking ingredients there. Actually, if you're in that neighborhood you might also check out the Korean market, Mirim, on Harvard about halfway between Comm. Ave and Brighton.