It may not be a beverage that you're all that familiar with, but Sake is a perfect selection during the cool winter months.
With a lot of myths circling out there around sake we wanted to not only debunk them but get to know this mythical like beverage a little better. Who better to chat to than Yohei Namba from Nagisa Japanese Restaurant, a sake lover and connoisseur, Yohei is also all about bringing some of the best sake flavours to the city.
Nagisa opened way back in 2003, what did the sake menu look like 15 years ago?
We had a few popular Japanese sakes on the menu but sake was hard to source back then. Accessing good quality sake is a lot easier now and our range is quite extensive, around 15 on the menu, and includes most styles from various regions of Japan.
Is there a demand for good quality Sake?
Things have definitely changed, our customers now range from sake connoisseurs to the genuinely curious who haven’t tried it before. I think sake will become a thing in the next few years, we’ll have to wait and see.
For the uninitiated can you describe the flavour?
The initial flavour for the uninitiated is one of light vodka without any of the harshness. The more you sip, the more the flavours open up to you.
What sort of person would enjoy drinking sake?
Any adult can enjoy sake. It’s light enough for business or casual lunches and warm sake is particularly good for cold, winter nights.
What’s the best way to enjoy sake, with or without food?
It’s enjoyable with or without food but, like wine, the flavours really show themselves with matching food.
If you're looking for a menu suggestion at Nagisa it's hard to go past the Beniaka lamb cutlets that have been marinated in miso and comes with pickled houjicha carrots, steamed greens and yuzu kosho pesto.
And what would you recommend for a first-timer?
If a newcomer wants a very gentle introduction to sake, I would recommend ‘ume-shu’. This is a plum sake served cold. The flavour is delectable and it’s incredibly easy to drink.
Do you have a favourite on the menu?
It’s hard to choose one, but on a cold winter night our Daishichi sake served at around 43 degrees will warm you up and make you feel fuzzy inside. It’s probably my favourite.
What’s one myth about sake that you would like to debunk?
Sake is not meant to be drunk as shots. To really get the flavour one must sip it. Many people believe it is like a spirit, but it is actually a wine that can be enjoyed just like other wines.
Some Fun Sake Facts
In Japan there are around 1500 sake breweries
There are only four ingredients to sake – water, yeast, rice and mould (yum!)
The Japanese have been brewing sake since as long ago as 300BC
Sake is good for you – no preservatives, low in acidity and residual sugar and it’s non-allergenic
Sake can be served warm or cold, but warm is the traditional way (around 43 degrees)
Sake is surprisingly quite low in alcohol – ranges from 6% to 18-20%