This weekend, instead of just going out for sushi, why not add some traditional Japanese culture to your plate? The Japanese Food & Sake Collection Festival is taking place Sunday, Jan. 29, at the Hilton Hotel Sierra Ballroom in Universal City from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and should be a hijō ni ureshī good time. With the ongoing problems related to last year's tsunami, we think it's a great effort to support.

To kick things off in a welcoming way, there will be a sake tasting contest at 11:30 a.m. Good morning! No need to sign up, it's first come-first served. All you have to do is identify four different brands of sake in a blind tasting to win a bottle of each. The rest of the day includes traditional taiko drumming performances, a sushi-eating contest (sorry, entry is closed) and 10-minute cooking demonstrations by local and international celebrity chefs Nobu Matsuhisa, Katsuya Uechi and Hitoshi Sugiura.

All-you-can-eat (or until they run out) food includes all the classics: sushi, yakitori, ramen, yakisoba, okonomiyaki, tempura and more from local restaurants and a variety of Japanese food companies. There will also be sake from several brewers; Sapporo, Kirin and Asahi beer; and non-alcoholic choices.

Tickets can be purchased online for $50 presale and $60 on site. They have negotiated special parking rates of $9 self-park/ $14 valet. (Yes, that is special. Normally at Universal City it's double that.)

Follow Rachael on Twitter @chickswknives.

LA Weekly