Sake Celebration – Finally Visited Sake Nomi In Seattle
So my sister invited me to visit her place in Seattle, and since it’s such a cool city who could say no? Not me! Fast forward to my two stellar daughters and I walking through Pike Place Market looking at such highlights as the “Wall of Gum” and flying salmon. This was the warm up to what I really wanted to check out!
For years I have heard stories and reports about a sake store that opened in Seattle, and a cool guy named Johnny who ran the place. And for years I have told people if you are ever in Seattle go to Sake Nomi and check it out for me. (I have also sent customers who were visiting Seattle a bottle of sake to give to Johnny – even though we had never met.)
Owning a sake store is a labor of love and there are only a few passionate souls out there doing it. So in a sense we are all kindered spirits, and I openly root for all of us as we are doing the Lord’s work! I have a ton of respect for each and every person who has dedicated themselves to pushing sake for a living. We are a unique breed, and I have been told that Johnny is one of the most unique.
So with daughters in tow I made an unannounced visit to Sake Nomi.
When I opened the door to the shop I immediately saw the tasting bar/counter and I thought to myself, “lucky duck!” I hesitated for a second, because I saw a sign that read “21 and Over.” As I stood momentarily paused in the doorway a white guy with a Japanese dew rag on his head looked up and said, “Beau?” (Sake souls have extra-perceptive senses) I sheepishly said yes and we walked in, all three of us including the 11 and 15 year-old who Johnny was looking at.
Basically kids are not allowed in Sake Nomi because it is a bar, but I asked if they could hide in the corner. I really wanted the girls to see the space, because they grew up in a sake store and I wanted their opinions. Johnny said it was cool and I told the girls to move away from the windows – Ha! And then we took it in. It was surrealistic to be in another sake store, and I walked around one part as a customer, one part as a sake fan, and one part as a competitor of sorts. My mind was wearing several caps.
There were several people sitting at the bar and I could not take my eyes or mind off of them. How different would True Sake be if I had a tasting bar/counter? Well in a word I know! (That is why when we open the next True Sake it will definitely have a tasting bar component to it!) Johnny looked very comfortable talking to the cusotomers and I could tell several of them were repeat offenders. They knew Johnny and they knew sake! “Cool” I thought to myself.
As I walked around the “store” part of Sake Nomi I began looking at the shelves and in particular the sake offerings. I didn’t see price. I didn’t see aesthetics. I only “saw” the different types of sakes that Johnny offered and the ones that we at True Sake didn’t. For the most part he carried lots of brews that I carry, used to carry, or temporarily didn’t carry. But there were a few “Hey what the heck is this?” sakes that drew my attention. And I was reminded of the old adage that “Desire rests in the wanting not the having.” (I noticed in particular Nanbu Bijin’s Shinpaku, and in honor of Johnny I will make that my sake this month for the Beau-Zone Layer.
The girls would later say that they “Like True Sake better!” but of course they are partial. I liked the bar feel of Sake Nomi and I could tell that Johnny did a great job making people feel comfortable with sake. We parted with a handshake and hug and the unsaid commitment that we both will keep doing the Lord’s work to the best of our abilities. Thank you Johnny!