Jun. 02, 2017 UPDATE
Extraordinary Kaiseki Dinner in Kyoto
Part 4

How to enjoy “Sake,” the partner for Japanese cuisine

Finally, so that you enjoy and develop a taste for Japanese food, we’d like to introduce “Washoku and Sake.”

Sake goes really well with Japanese cuisine.
Made from rice, sake is packed with the sweetness of the rice and goes well with fish or salt-seasoned dishes. As there are about 5,000 breweries in Japan, the number of sake brands is close to 20,000. That's why, depending on the food being served at different times, it’s possible to be flexible in choosing the most suitable sake. In other words, sake is the “partner” that best complements Japanese cuisine.

There are an infinite number of ways to match sake and Japanese cuisine. In order to make your “Washoku and Sake” an unforgettable experience, we will give a simple explanation of how to enjoy sake. If you read this, you will definitely become able to get greater enjoyment from sake and Japanese cuisine!
Junmaishu? Daiginjoshu? Let’s look at the subtle differences in sake!
The single word “sake” actually covers various types and they each have very different features and flavors. Actually, we can divide sake into just two main types, regular and daiginjo. We often hear of junmaishu and daiginjo sake, but actually the sake classified using these specific names can be divided into as many as eight varieties. That’s detailed!

If you’re going to enjoy sake with Japanese cuisine, knowing the difference between junmaishu, ginjoshu, and daigijoshu is a must. Here we will give a brief explanation of the three types of sake.
Junmaishu is “sake made from rice only.” It is made from rice, koji mold, and water. No other ingredients are used! Since it is liquor made from pure rice, it has a characteristic full-bodied soft and gentle flavor.

The sake in the picture is「Kame no O Kurabu / 亀の尾 蔵舞」(from Akita Prefecture).
(Junmaishu / Taken at Jiki Miyazawa)
Ginjoshu differs from junmaishu in that, in addition to rice, (cooking) ethanol known as “distilled alcohol” is used. Distilled alcohol gives the sake a bouquet and helps it keep for longer. In addition, it is classified by the rice polishing ratio. In the case of ginjoshu it is defined as having a polishing ratio of 60% or less. It has a characteristic sweet, fruity flavor and is suitable for someone new to sake.

The sake in the picture is「黒龍 / Kokuryu」 (from Fukui Prefecture)
(Junmai Ginjoshu / Taken at Masaki)
The difference between ginjoshu and daiginjoshu is their rice polishing ratio. Daiginjoshu is designated as having a ratio of less than 70%. When making sake, the outer parts of rice grains give it a “rough taste”, so sake made with only the inner part of the grains is a fresher, more delicious sake. Daiginjoshu is the more delicious and luxurious sake.

The sake in the picture is 「Kagura Shichyou / 神蔵七曜」(Kyoto Prefecture)
(Junmai Daiginjoshu / Taken at Nijo-jo Furuta)
How to drink sake with food
How to drink sake with food
Basically, if you have come to eat Japanese food, rather than match the food to the sake, we’d like to recommend that you let the food take the leading role and choose a sake that brings the best out of the food.

You go to a washoku restaurant not to drink sake but to enjoy a meal, so naturally the leading role goes to the food and we want you to eat, tasting washoku slowly and deeply. That’s what the sake is for.
How do you tell the perfect sake to go with Japanese food?
How do you tell the perfect sake to go with Japanese food? There are two ways.

The best way is probably to ask the restaurant owner to recommend three types of sake. When the time comes to try the sake, there are so many varieties that it’s a daunting task to choose the best sake to suit the food. At that point, you order by saying to the owner,
“Osusume no Osake wo Onegaishimasu.”
(Could you select a nice sake for us?)
Many owners of washoku restaurants are also experts on sake. They are sure to choose the perfect sake to go with the food they themselves serve!
Restaurants where you can taste real Sake
You have a general mastery of the varieties and matching of sake. Right about now, you must be itching to actually drink and taste it for yourself, right? So now it’s time to put it into practice! Let’s go and drink sake in Kyoto!

This time we’d like to introduce a couple of restaurants that specialize in sake, where you can relax and enjoy sake and small appetizers, Otsumami. It goes without saying that they are both delicious, and you can really
If you come here, you will definitely have a fun night!
Masuya Saketen
Masuya Saketen
Masuya Saketen is a dreamlike restaurant that specializes in sake. The exterior and interior are stylish and this popular place is always buzzing.

There are counter seats, seated tables, and standing tables, so happily it works for any scenario. It is a specialized restaurant, and it is dominated by a blackboard decorated with rows of large sake bottles that covers an entire wall. The explanations written in chalk that accompany each sake bottle are very cute.

They stock an abundance of sake varieties that change daily. Any time you come to this restaurant there is something different to enjoy and it never gets old.
Manzara Honten
Manzara Honten
With a stylish and relaxed atmosphere, Manzara Honten is a restaurant where you can order creative Japanese food a la carte. It is conveniently located about 5 minutes walk north of Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae Subway Station. The most wonderful thing about Manzara Honten is its hospitality and relaxing space.

The owner says, “I want people to enjoy eating Japanese food and go home happy.” That sentiment is equally true for foreign customers. For example, even if you order only one item from the menu, you will sense his hospitality.

How the traditional Kyoto dishes of namafu, tofu, and yuba are made is explained on the first page of the menu. Whether it’s the food, the sake, or the space, everything is mindful of trying to please their customer, and your stomach and heart are sure to be satisfied.

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