Want to enjoy your visit to Japan? While you’re here, be sure to try some top-quality sake with some friends and good food—sushi, or yakitori are high on my list.
Can you find good sake back home? Probably, but most of the sake available at your local liquor shop isn’t worth drinking. You could order a bottle online and enjoy it that way, but the absolute best way to imbibe high-quality sake is to come to Japan and drink it…at its source!
Where to drink
Sake goes well with a lot of Japanese food. Here are a few that I recommend.
Sushi & Sashimi
Sushi is good, but sashimi (a plate of raw fish) is even better. Give it a try!
Grilled chicken and vegetables. Excellent.
Like yakitori, but with a wider selection. The food is usually laid out in bamboo baskets, and grilled right in front of you. My favorite restaurant in Japan is a small robatayaki place on Komachi Dori in Kamakura called Utsuki. Wonderful!
Deep fried vegetables and seafood. It goes great with sake.
These are fairly inexpensive restaurant/bars that Japanese businessmen frequent. The menu is diverse, and the sake is cheap.
What to drink
My two favorites are Kubota Manju and Hakkaisan. The first one is hard to find and expensive. The second is available just about anywhere and moderately priced. You can drink sake cold, at room temperature, or heated. Heated is good in the winter, but the quality of the sake will be low. But it still tastes great!
Sake-World.com’s John Gautner’s Picks
Choosing your cup
Part of the pleasure drinking sake in Japan is the variety of small cups (called o-cho-ko). They come in all colors, textures, shapes and sizes. Try as many as you can. Each o-cho-ko brings a different sake experience along with it.
How to drink
Japanese pour sake for each other. It’s an intimate way to drink, and a great way to cement a relationship! Enjoy!