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4 sake bars where the food doesn’t play second fiddle to the drinks

Japan’s national alcohol is a smooth, rice-based pour that’s making waves globally - here are some of the best places to get it.

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.

  • Tanoke beef

    Tanoke

    Newly opened Tanoke on Purvis Street looks to pair a varied selection over 40 artisanal sakes with confident Japanese gastronomia (and a shichirin binchotan grill), courtesy of Chef Rio Neo’s cuisine, honed in izakaya kitchens like Kinki, Fat Cow and Kabuke, one of Tanoke’s sister-concepts. The gastrobar’s sake collection is characterised by terroir, leaving plenty of wiggling room for Neo to flex his culinary chops. Libations between bites of white-charcoal-grilled Wagyu or Koji-aged lamb rack include in-house cocktail creations featuring said Japanese nihonshu - or, wait for the weekend, and sup on Singapore’s inaugural sake brunch. That means free-flow bubbly (sparkling sake, that is), junmai ginjo and Japanised takes on brunch classics, including kaarage and pancakes, foie gras and onsen benedict as well as classic sandos. 

    Level 2, 7 Purvis Street. Tel: 9106-3378

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