With Japanese cuisine’s ever-mounting popularity within the global gastronomical zeitgeist, so too has the country’s favourite drink. That’s sake – which technically translates to, simply, alcoholic beverage in the Land of the Rising Sun.
What we’re thinking of when we say sake is actually called nihonshu in Japan. It’s been around for more than 2,500 years, though the foundations of a good sake haven’t changed much – high-quality rice grains, polished to varying degrees, and fermented with koji, yeast and water. As is customary for the Japanese, prefectures and townships have their own time-honoured twists, like the inclusion of local spring water, that pay homage to the sensibilities of their respective regions. Generally though, the more polished the rice, and the lesser the additives, the better.
While sakes are readily available throughout the island, including a growing collection of izakayas dotted around the CBD and beyond, sake bars are a little more austere (in a good way). Especially if you’re particular about what sort of sake you’re imbibing.