Fantastic Japanese Tapas (Izakaya) hits West Hollywood - Aburiya RAKU - pictures


Hi @beefnoguy,

It was $247, which was like half the price for the Dreams Come True you’re telling me to try still! :smile: (but sadly that one is no longer offered, not like I could afford it! ;))

Did you get tired of Shizukuzake style Sake? This was really fantastic.


Born Dreams Come True, $249 retail at Mel and Rose (Melrose) or $240 at Mission Liquors Pasadena + x2 corkage (it is a one liter bottle though)? Assuming/ensuring the bottle is refrigerated to begin with, and keeping it chilled in transit, could require additional effort.

$247 for the Okunomatsu? That’s not bad, retails for $120 (Mel & Rose, but out of stock for a while) to $160/$190.

I’ll indulge in the occasional Shizuku or Daiginjo/Junmai Daiginjo sake once in a while for a special occasion. I’m more of a believer of sake with excellent QPR these days and prefer the lesser polished varietals (Junmai, Junmai Ginjo) particularly with izakaya fare. There are actually some very solid bottles from Raku’s Junmai Ginjo, Junmai, and Specialty category that would be excellent with the food there (particularly the grilled items).




Hi @beefnoguy,

Thanks for the tip on places to get Dreams Come True! That’s a much more reasonable price compared to restaurants’ prices (makes sense). And the $120 retail for the Okunomatsu is really nice considering the taste (really nice).

I think we were able to get the price down since so many of us were sharing the bottle (quality over quantity on that dinner ;)).

You recommended some Junmai Ginjo previously. Any Junmai or Specialty bottles you’d recommend for pairing with Raku’s menu? Thanks!


Fantastic @Chowseeker1999.

Aburiya Raku seems delicious, but also so cool.

Thanks for including me in such esteemed sake company. I don’t know anything about it. But I plan on asking for advice soon.


One quick comment from the Junmai Daiginjo section…I must say that the readily available and Raku’s cheapest Junmai Daiginjo, Dassai 50 at $45
a bottle (if the price is still the same) has great QPR bottle for the food and quality. While Dassai 50 is an easy sushi staple, it goes great with izakaya food too (including fried stuff like tempura). Though it can’t keep too long once the bottle is opened.

From the Junmai Ginjo section, these are very solid izakaya friendly sake.

Fukucho Suigetsu - the master brewer of this sake is female. Very elegant, a bit fruit forward with a nice dry finish. A powerhouse despite the feminine characteristics. The soft water is typical for Hiroshima sake. Good stuff

Akishika Muroka Nama Genshu - Bone dry (more so than Izumi Judan). Heavy duty, though only 500 mL. Worth a try

Kuroushi Omachi (Black Bull)

Dewazakura Oka (you’ve had this before, wonderfully floral)

Fukuju Junmai Ginjo

Kokuryu (Junmai Ginjo) - a must try with the skewered and grilled items. Sometimes you’ll find it at omakase type sushi restaurants, but it is the wrong fit. Kokuryu Ginjo actually goes better with sushi/sashimi. Kokuryu is from the same prefecture (Fukui) as Born…personally I like Kokuryu more. One of the greats

Shimeharitsuru Jun - excellent sake, a bit more aromatic.

Kamoizumi (Three Dots) - another one destined for the grill. I have a bottle but have not opened it yet. One American BBQ restaurant in San Francisco apparently carries this very sake.

Amabuki (Strawberry yeast) - you’ve tried this before. It’s also a nama sake. Getting it by the bottle would be better than by the glass (since you don’t know if they open a fresh one or if the pour from a pre-existing bottle is any good)

From the Junmai section:

Demon Slayer (Wakatake Onikoroshi) - Tokubetsu Junmai Genshu. This is an undiluted Junmai which is a pretty hard to find combination. Excellent for cutting the grease.

Daishichi Kimoto Classic Junmai is great, though maybe a touch on the lighter aromatic side though with a touch more acidity. Would be excellent warmed.

Tamagawa Tokubetsu Junmai - I haven’t had this but this should be very interesting. The head brewer is a British expat, and they are based in Kyoto. Their Daiginjo is excellent and would be something that works nicely at Mori Sushi.

Urakasumi/Uragasumi - This brewery makes great sake, though I prefer their Honjozo Genshu (only sold at True Sake SF) or their Junmai. Their Junmai Ginjo is far too smooth and fruit forward for me. The Junmai is great with izakaya fare.


For those into plum sake, Kakurei and Kamoizumi make super excellent plum infused sake. I think Kakurei could potentially bit a touch more sweet at times. Kakurei is from Niigata and Kamoizumi is Hiroshima if I remember correctly.

From the unique sake selection: Yoshinosugi no Taru - cedar barrel stored/aged sake. This is so darn good, though could be a bit of an acquired taste. I personally enjoy this a whole lot. Might actually be fun drinking it out of a masu (cedar box), but it will also be excellent from a vessel where you can smell it. $5 less than the Dassai 50, but really worth a try if you are adventurous.


Hi @TheCookie,

No problem, feel free to ask away. :slight_smile: I thought you went to Raku already once right? :slight_smile:


Hi @beefnoguy,

Wow, fantastic tasting notes and thanks for all the recommendations on the menu! :slight_smile:

The Yoshinosugi no Taru sounds really interesting! I’ve never tried cedar barrel aged Sake before. Thanks for the reminder on the Dassai 50. Once we had the Dassai 23, I forgot about the 50. :sweat_smile:


Hi !

Nope, not yet. :slight_frown: It was going to be a birthday dinner at Kinjiro, but they weren’t accepting new reservations at the time (new chef training or something). Obviously Aburiya Raku would be a great alternative, but other friends and fam joined in and somehow we ended up doing Italian :unamused:.

So many restaurants and so little time!


Hi @TheCookie,

Ah that’s what it was! I remember that thread now. :slight_smile: Hope you get a chance to try it soon! It’s not as far as Howlin’ Ray’s! :wink:


It’s time! It’s actually close to me too. :blush:


Looking forward to your thoughts, hope you have a great dinner!


Dassai 23 is so smooth and delicious that it can be easily overwhelmed. It’s perfect with pristine sea urchin sashimi, but super duper good with raw oysters. Excellent with the variety at Connie & Ted’s, even better if you can get a hold of the Centrifuge version.

Dassai 50 works nicely with a variety of cooked food. Very fail safe choice, and more boozy for sure than the others.

The Kamoizumi Shusen “3 dots” is actually a 900 mL bottle (had mine last night, quite decent and pleasant), and at $55 you get decent QPR both ways (quality and quantity), this retails for $35 at True Sake San Francisco. It works best with grilled salty greasy good stuff. Not as much with small bite types (like the otsumami trio at Kinjiro).

I tasted the Fukuju Junmai Ginjo yesterday, it’s also a very solid bottle with great structure (their claim to fame is that this was served at some Nobel Prize ceremony dinner).


Hi @beefnoguy,

Great point about Dassai 23 being overwhelmed by stronger flavored foods; didn’t think of that. :sweat_smile: Thanks. I’ll give Dassai 50 a try next time at Raku.

And I’ll bookmark the Kamoizumi Shusen as well, thanks. :slight_smile:

Although thinking about price / QPR, wouldn’t your previous recommendation to me - Tedorigawa Kinka (which is a Daiginjo) be worth considering (given how inexpensive it is)? I think a friend of mine picked up Tedorigawa at True Sake for around $30 something and at Raku it’s not that much more expensive. Thanks.


Possible your friend picked up the Tedorigawa Yamahai Junmai ($32) and the Kinka is $40 per True Sake’s website.

Yes Kinka would be a good QPR sake, plus the fact it is a well structured nama Daiginjo makes it more fun for the warmer weather. I didn’t mention it again since it was recommended last year.


Quick question… how do you and posters in general feel about drinking sake out of a wine glass. A bunch of the nicer places in Tokyo served the nicer sakes in wine glasses and I really thought it a better way to serve sake then small containers where you can’t really apreciate the aroma of the sake. I sometimes ask for it at places I’m US when I’m ordering nicer sake but am also embarrassed, thinking it might be overly pretentious/non traditional. Love Raku btw


An excellent and well thought out question!

For me that is my preferred choice of vessel when appreciating sake. It’s not just appreciating the aroma at first but you get a larger surface area for the sake to breathe more as you let it sit after pouring it from the bottle (and assuming the bottle is still nicely chilled), enhancing the aroma enjoyment as time goes by. This is not just a must for the more aromatic sake out there, but also the really ridiculously expensive Junmai Daiginjo top tier bottles that have could have more muted flavors in the beginning after opening a chilled bottle, but later their flavors come out in the glass during the course of the meal. Professional sake somms (and those who are really into wine and appreciate sake) would agree, and I’ve asked quite a number of them based in different geographical locations the same question. So yes to the wine glass for sake, regardless of grade or price of the bottle.

Whether there are differences between say a white wine glass, or a Pinot, Burgundy, Cabernet glass, I can’t say for sure. The other great thing about the wine glass is that you can hold it up to observe its clarity and swirl it a little (like wine) to release some aromas though this is likely not as effective as wine, and there is no “wine tier” in sake (but fun to see and show people anyway, or for self observation). For judging in sake competitions, they use a non transparent cup, where the inside are two to three blue circles one inside the other. It’s another way to see a sake’s clarity, but you see way more of it in a wine glass against the right light.

With that said, generally higher end restaurants that carry sake (Japanese or not), as long as they serve wine in their appropriate wine glasses, it’s not unreasonable to ask for wine glasses. For those places that are serious about their sake selection and take pride in them (and do a great job of picking sake that actually work great with the food, vs picking them because they like how it tastes and not how it pairs), will do so without any questioning and realize what it is you are doing. Some izakaya have great food, but not as deep or great of a selection (but may also have some wine)…in which case I’m fine with using something else or not requesting it.

I went to Narisawa, Ranjatai, Torishiki, and Tempura Motoyoshi in Tokyo last November. Both offer wine and sake. At Narisawa, sake is served in wine glass by default. However the wine director at Narisawa (great guy by the way) is also a certified sake somm, so he knows what he’s doing for sure. At Motoyoshi, the sake came in a ceramic cup. Torishiki, I believe they poured it in a stemless glass (similar to their shochu) which works great for yakitori. Ranjatai (another high end yakitori restaurant), served theirs by default in a wine glass, but the owner also has his own wine cellar/collection and encourages red wine with yakitori, and he also stocks a few high end bottles. So even that bit is nicely thought out. I went to maybe two izakaya places and there were no wine glasses offered as default.
So it really depends on the audience, the restaurant, the beverage director/owner’s philosophy, the atmosphere and what not. I’m sure I could have asked for wine glass though at times it was ok without it.


I remember the first time I was served sake in the little wood box. I loved that, and the reason for it (“generosity”). I also find it aesthetically pleasing.

When using a wine glass, do you receive a bottle, then the sake is poured into the glass? Or do they sell it by the glass?


Yes, what you described is an old school way that may still happen at neighborhood sushi restaurants and izakaya with the intent to impress the customer and show generosity. Sake fondue fountain?

In most cases, a “glass” of sake would be something like a 5 to 6 inch tall glass vessel (or equivalent) sometimes placed on top of a square-ish box (sometimes a cedar box) where the overflow would be caught by the box underneath.
I’ve seen places that give you the 5 to 6 inch glass (non wine glass) and without the overflow catcher box underneath. The worst offender was an izakaya that only filled about 2/3 of the way…

Another approach is when you purchase a carafe (upwards to half a 720 mL bottle in portion or ~ 300 mL), that typically comes from a 1.8 L sized sake bottle, poured into a larger vessel (like a teapot without a handle), then you (or waitstaff) pour it into a smaller vessel. There are variants where the sake “pot” overflows into the drinking cup (also looks very elegant).

Generally I get or bring/pay corkage for a bottle, and ask for an empty wine glass. If I order a single pour (a glass or carafe) direct from the restaurant, I let them use whatever vessel.


Yes, I felt very sophisticated when a dining companion explained it to me. :wink: