“The trouble with sake,” said Troy Polee after two hours of sipping and soaking it in, “is that it’s all made basically the same way and with the same ingredients.” In other words, how is the untrained palate supposed to distinguish such miniscule differences in mouthfeel, taste and aroma when it’s all the same thing?
Before ELV goes wallowing in his ignorance much further, he should tell you that he has been sipping and (casually) studying sake over the past few years, and he is slowly gaining an appreciation for the fine tuning that goes into what is basically “rice beer” — albeit highly refined, filtered and fermented “rice beer.”
And before any of his sake friends start to shoot him, ELV will admit that the taste distinctions are becoming more apparent as he sips his way through various tastings, and that his appreciation for sake as the absolute best thing to drink with sushi and sashimi has been enhanced immeasurably since the Japanese food revolution began in Vegas over five years ago.
But he still has a long way to go.
Which is why he jumped at the chance to listen to Koji Kawakami of Yoshi-No-Gawa Sake at I-Naba recently, where he learned a few things, among them:
- The Sake Value Meter (SMV) Index is a quick and easy way to find the level of sweetness and acidity in a sake.
- Sake dudes are just as passionate about their product as any Italian wine maker.
- Yoshi-No-Gawa makes a beautiful range of sakes that are a nice, affordable and tasty education for the sake novice.
- The only way to learn is to taste…and taste…and taste…and ask a lot of dumb questions.
- There are lots of sake mavens around town now who are eager to teach you — our personal favorite being Yukiko Kawasaki at Yellowtail because: a) she is female, b) she is cute as a button, c) her name rolls trippingly off the tongue, and d) she’s a ton of fun to talk to.
Another thing we learned (or rather, were reminded of) is how stunning the food is at Yoshi Honda’s I-Naba, and how splendidly this drink goes with his battera (lightly cured mackerel pressed over sushi rice), tempura, and satsuma-age (fried fish cake with ginger and green onion).
So if you don’t know your sakes, at least know your sake somms and sake makers.
Like Yoshinogawa, which also rolls trippingly off the tongue.
3120 South Decatur Boulevard
Las Vegas, Nevada 89146