Sake: Are you as frustrated as I am with the stuff? I absolutely love sake, especially with great sashimi and sushi. I was at a supercool Japanese restaurant in Los Angeles this weekend that is completely off the radar. It’s in a chic part of Melrose, but the tiny restaurant doesn’t even have a sign outside. It reminds me of a number of high-end sushi places that I went to last month in Tokyo and the food is comparable. The ingredients are incredibly fresh and prepared to perfection. For example, the seared abalone and octopus were tender, clean and subtle. My mouth is watering as I write this and it is not even lunch yet! The bluefin tuna and salmon sashimi were rich and flavorful yet tasted of the sea—like they were caught a few hours before. Even the "foreigner sushi" of crisp soft-shelled crabs and avocado was delicious and satisfying. Last month, I asked one of Tokyo’s sushi masters if he made rolls like that and he answered, “Yes, for children.” I can get away with the order in Los Angeles …
Anyway, the food is fabulous at Nishimura. And the restaurant also has a small, well-selected sake list. The problem is that I can’t read the labels and even the back labels say very little. I asked for the waitress’ recommendation, and she brought out her house pour with the back label of the restaurant’s name ($15 a glass) and another with the name Yamaho ($16). The house pour was much better with a lychee fruit, green melon character. It was full and delicious. The Yama ... what not was rather petrol-y and burning. It was okay, but no big deal. I shared with a pretty blonde friend of mine a gorgeous glass of Nishimura Junmai dai Ginjo, which was floral, round and appley with a lemony aftertaste.
The names of these sakes probably make no sense. So sorry. But that’s all the information I have. Unless I take a crash course in Japanese, I am never going to figure it out. Or maybe I should find a Japanese girlfriend or something?
But this doesn’t take anything away from my love for sake. And I am going to soldier forward and learn more and drink more of the stuff. It was like that in the early 1980s when I started drinking great German Rieslings. I couldn’t figure out the labels or the nomenclature. But now most of the whites in my cellar are German. I guess it helped that I tasted German wines for the magazine for about 15 years before passing the reins to Bruce Sanderson. Can’t say I will be doing the same with sake, but I am going to do my best to learn more about it.
Bob Golbahar — Los Angeles — January 15, 2007 9:08pm ET
Peter Vangsness — Springfield, MA — January 16, 2007 9:07am ET
Paul Trier — PA/ USA — January 16, 2007 10:19am ET
James Suckling — — January 16, 2007 11:53am ET
Harvey Steiman — San Francisco, CA — January 16, 2007 12:16pm ET
William Newell — Buffalo, NY — January 16, 2007 12:58pm ET
James Suckling — — January 16, 2007 1:35pm ET
Nick Suarez — NY, NY — January 16, 2007 2:13pm ET
Justin Renard — Tokyo, Japan — January 17, 2007 9:10am ET
Jeffrey Ghi — New York — January 17, 2007 5:37pm ET
James Suckling — — January 17, 2007 7:04pm ET
Russell Wingard — Oregon — January 19, 2007 8:15pm ET
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