A hearty congratulations to my friends Rick and Hiroko (that's her in picture) on the one year anniversary of their wonderful shop Sakaya, the only store on the East Coast dedicated to premium, small-batch, artisanal sake and shochu. In honor of their milestone -- and to help us all find a great sake -- I asked them to recommend a few of their favorite bottles of nihonshu for the holidays.
Okay, drumroll... here are their picks, along with Rick's notes:
Miyasaka Yawaraka Junmai (Nagano) "Light, smooth, clean aperitif that is easy on the pocketbook and guaranteed to please anyone who has or hasn't had sake before."
Kamoizumi Shusen Tokubetsu Junmai (Hiroshima) "Robust with deep woodsy, mushroom aromatics, great for warming."
Mantensei "Star-Filled Sky" Junmai Ginjo (Tottori) "This beautiful, soft textured, aromatic sake with honey-laced flavors is a great match with roasted poultry and vegetable dishes. "
Kubota Hekiju Junmai Daiginjo (Niigata) "From the quintessential Niigata brewer, this unique brew delivers on all fronts; balance, structure, and creamy flavor that pairs well with appetizers."
Masuizumi Junmai Daiginjo (Toyama) "The aficionado's sake. Impress the guests or give it as a gift, this sake is guaranteed to please striking the perfect balance between richness and acidity. Savor it as an aperitif by itself or with a soft cheese after dinner."
Chikurin Hou Hou Shu (Okayama) "What would the holidays be without a little sparkle? Shake the champagne (not literally of course) habit this year, and drink some of this delightfully creamy, low alcohol sparkling sake! Also comes in a rose petal and hibiscus-infused version (Chikurin Hana Hou Hou Shu)."
By the way, you can call them at 212-505-SAKE (cute, eh?) to order, they ship.