March 2012

Sake Servings - SF By The Glass

Posted by Beau Timken in 2012, March, Newsletter
Is there anything better than exploring? From walking in the woods as a kid to jetting to foreign cities as an adult the act of exploring is a form of a life source or life energy that keeps us alive. Exploring sake is no different. The only problem is that exploring sake can be an expensive exercise. I spent a great deal of money learning my trade as there weren't many places to taste sake, and I had to go by the bottle even the isshobin (1.8L) bottle to "see" what was inside. One of the bi-products of these numerous expenses was my desire to write reviews for each bottle of sake that I would eventually offer at True Sake to get you at least a glimpse of what was on the inside before you purchased. I never had that luxury and had to eat the expense on a lot of bottles that I only wanted to taste, as in just a glass.

What to do? Well, 300ml bottles have been a good help in this process, but the best partner in this regard is the "By the Glass Pour" (BTGP) at a restaurant or bar. In this regard there are some positive and negatives when speaking about "BTGP" (By the Glass Pour). Sometimes it's frustrating when you go to a place with a sake menu and they only have one or two sakes by the glass and the rest is bottle service. That's back in the expensive exploration realm. Likewise if a restaurant has a huge BTGP menu and they don't move the sake that quickly then there is a chance that you may be tasting a sake that is a little long in the tooth (opened and overly oxidized) and it won't taste the same as when just opened.

Of course the size of the glass is a pretty big factor as well. I get sort of bummed if it's a puny glass, but even still you are getting a taste of a sake without buying a bottle. There are tradeoffs for sure, but for sake explorers today you have it pretty good as a lot of restaurants do indeed offer BTGPs in a number that makes it fun. Likewise there are far more "Sake Samplers" out there and they are a big help too. Usually themed, these samplers come out in threes, and they cut to the chase. They are, as you would imagine, smaller pours using smaller glasses, but again think in terms of cost-cutting exploration.

Sorry to the outside-SF-crowd, but I have compiled a list of some restaurants who do BTGPs proud. Some of these establishments have smaller offerings, but I find that they rotate them more than the larger offerings, so it's sort of a two-trip wash! And please forgive me if I left anybody off the list. Herewith are some restaurants that sake explorers should feel comfortable visiting:

Restaurants With By The Glass Pours and How Many Offerings - (Samplers not included)
  • Blowfish Sushi - 26
  • Domo Sushi - 9
  • Ichi Sushi - 14
  • Kiji Sushi - 22
  • Kiss Seafood - 25
  • Koo - 11
  • Live Sushi - 6
  • Nojo - 9
  • Nombe Izakaya - 19
  • Okose Sushi - 5
  • Ozumo - 33
  • Sebo Sushi - 7
  • Sushi Groove - 5
  • Umami Sushi - 10
  • Umi Sushi - 24
  • Yoshi's Sushi - 21
(If you don't see a name on the list, here is a reason: I called a lot of places and received some similar responses like we only do Sake Samplers, we only pour in carafes, or quite simply we have 1 or 2 sakes by the glass.)

Good luck exploring BTGP sakes and remember old explorers never die - they just don't come back!

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