Article by Eddie originally published on Deep Japan
How to Order Japanese Sake
Want to try tasting real Japanese sake together with nice “washoku”(Japanese cuisine) during your trip here? It can be tricky to pick a good one from a variety of Japanese sake offerings. You know what? It is tough for me although I am Japanese. Because there are more than 2,000 kinds!! It’s natural that you are at a loss for what to order. In that case, you can simply ask store staff by saying “Nihonshu osusume please!” meaning “what is your recommended Japanese sake?”. Please just make a note it’s better to use the word “nihonshu” (Japanese sake) instead of “sake”. In Japanese, “sake” refers to alcohol in general.
How to Select Japanese Sake
If you wish to taste real Japanese sake, I recommend you stay away from convenience stores and regular super markets. My recommendation is “junmaishu”, which is sake made without added alcohol or sugar. Their flavor and aroma are remarkably excellent. In my personal opinion, junmaishu features a unique deep flavor and fragrance on top of excellent white wine like taste. I would like you to taste such deliciousness yourself as a sip of really nice sake is worth a thousand words. They go perfect with any kind of washoku so you don’t need to pay attention to matching such as the marriage of wine and food. You should ask store staff for junmaishu or remember Chinese character of junmaishu so that you can recognize them by label, which is 純米酒.
My Recommended Restaurant for Japanese Sake Beginners
There are some restaurants which only offer junmaishu although the number is quite limited. They don’t specify that on their signboard either. Therefore, I would like to share my recommendation for Japanese sake restaurant, Restaurant TAMAGAWA located on Dogenzaka, Shibuya.
Their master welcome overseas visitors anytime as he believe they cheer up the atmosphere of his restaurant. Approximately a third of their customers are foreigners. They of course have English menu and you can relax to order your favorite foods. And going back to the current topic subject, they offer 4 types of Japanese sake and they are all junmaishu. (550 yen per glass). You can call the master “Taisho” and taisho’s recommended junmaishu is “Asabiraki” produced in Iwate prefecture. Asabiraski is the Gold medal winner sake for 19 years (prize winner for past 23 years). When you visit his restaurant, you can just order by saying “asabiraki please!” and I can assure you will have great Japanese sake experience. Enjoy!
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