Sake Talk Anyone?

I would recommend having a third bottle just in case it gets festive, you can always opt not to open it.

Kuro Kabuto will be a crowd pleaser for sure, have it very chilled to start as apertif but will pair fine with sashimi and the like.

For something smooth but heavier you can follow it up with Born Muroka Nama Genshu.

And finish it off with a Junmai, either Denshu or Taka and even these would be fine lightly chilled or room temperature. Treat Taka for sure like you would a semi dry white wine, do try it with any shellfish you can get your hands on. No need for rules, you could even serve the sake side by side and let your friends decide what goes best with what.

Break out the white wine glasses for these and have blast with them!


Picked up the Kuro Kabuto and Denshu but alas only opened the Kuro. Guests brought along too much booze for a group of light weights. The Kuro was a terrific QPR, very pleasant floral fruity aroma with a rich umami backnote, my reaction upon the first sip was Wow!

Thanks again for the recs @beefnoguy and Happy New Year!


Excellent! Save the Denshu for a restaurant you love but does not carry it. I opened a bottle last night and it was amazing. You will enjoy the wonderful grassy notes and umami of the Denshu Junmai.

Yes the Kuro Kabuto is killer QPR for sure. Glad you picked up the right notes of it! Hope your guests liked it too. How did it pair with the food for you?

Happy New Year!!

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The Kuro worked well, there were enough savory bits (ikura, saba, maguro zuke) to complement the savory backnotes. We also had shabu shabu during the evening.

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Glad to hear it!

Denshu and shabu shabu would have been an amazing combination! Plus versatile enough that Denshu could be warmed to just below 50 C and fun to try side by side lightly chilled.

It would be very daring and costly to pay $100 corkage at Noz for a Junmai but I think Denshu would work really great there for food pairing purposes.

On a side note, I am in Orange County now, really considering take the plunge and try the Costa Mesa location of Izakaya Hachi and do the pork shabu shabu as well. Wish I brought my favorite geeky Junmai with me… the options around here are generally a bit more limited.

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Did you check out Hi-Time? I recollect they stock some interesting bottles, however prices of their Japanese spirits can be a bit wonky IMO

Welcome to the OC. The Tokyo Central in Yorba Linda has a decent selection of sake. I recognize some of the names but can’t comment on pricing.

Thank you both! I was only there four days and am back already.

In short: Hi Time, Costa Mesa Mitsuwa, and Tokyo Central Costa Mesa have some interesting selections, a large number of which we can get up here, although some prices are lower which is great. However even with this combination, there is still a lack of certain specific profiles…a bit hard to describe, and it can get a little bit difficult picking something very specific for food pairings, but maybe that is just me. For Orange County, I suppose this is already very very good. Hi Time is good, my 3rd visit in the last couple years I think. Their inventory matches the website’s and good to see them properly store most of their sake chilled, with the exception of the super high end bottles which for some strange reason they keep at cellar temperature along with the first growths/bordeaux’s (which is not the right way to do it). Mitsuwa had a New Year’s sale at the tables past the cashier with a few random rare bottles, but didn’t feel like buying anything. I did make one purchase at Hi Time, but that was to bring to a dinner.

My big gripe though, was seeing a nice bottle of Nanbu Bijin Daiginjo at Tokyo Central in the $60s (it’s something that seems to be LA only, not in Northern California), but looking at the bottling date after opening the box, it was listed as late 2016, sitting in supermarket temperature and “aging”. Kuji-san (president of the brewery) probably won’t be happy to see that but this is how it is with distribution and trying to get more. I shouldn’t be surprised, as even our NorCal Marukai has quite a few bottles aging like that too…

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Let me post some of what I have encountered last week in the OC

Combination of Costa Mesa Mitsuwa and Tokyo Central

In the refrigerator section (first picture), the green bottle with the white label, white kanji against green background, is Shichi Hon Yari Nama Junmai. Might be the most interesting sake from this section

Shichida Junmai Daiginjo would be fun for most other applications, including cooked food but lighter fare.
It’s cheaper than at Mitsuwa San Jose by about $20 at least (Silicon Valley rents…)



Hi Time:

Funniest shit I’ve seen: Blueberry infused sake (Ty Ku’s cucumber takes the cake but this is next level, my sake somm friend in Japan was speechless)

Katsuyama Akatsuki Junmai Daiginjo, a very very nice sake and is also a centrifuge, far more complex and higher viscosity than Dassai 23 which is too light and smooth from a small taste I had a while ago.

Seitoku is part of World Sake but have not seen it in Northern California. This one is undiluted/genshu and might be interesting.

Kamoizumi umeshu sake was tasty when I had it at Kusakabe a few years ago, but I prefer a more richer base (kome shochu) with pulp.

The sake in the cellar area should be refrigerated at 5 degrees C or below… and I guess the prices are lower than what they used to be and marked down a little since they do not sell very well. Not pictured is their Dassai Beyond which was marked down…even Tokyo Central may have had one at a similar price. They must be not moving… The Flying Pegasus gold genie looking bottle is an aged Daiginjo, way too expensive for a koshu.


From OC Weekly

Give your someone a sushi and sake treat one day early. Head over to Hi-Time Wine Celler on Wednesday the 13th for a special $20 sake tasting. Our favorite expert Veronica has also got The Shiroyama Sushi Co. ready to take your order. There may even be a treat to celebrate the holiday!

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At H-Mart In Diamond Bar

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Same at Mitsuwa West LA


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Please do not buy that Born Gold from H Mart. The price may be attractive, but the handling and storage may have compromised its quality. That bottle may just be a fraction above wholesale and perhaps helping the distributor clean house of old stale inventory. Check the bottling date on top of that. Supermarket shelf aged sake sucks…I remember seeing a Kamoshibito Kuheijii Junmai Ginjo 1.8L bottle at a Korean supermarket in Santa Clara (it is still there), the bottling date is 2008, and this Kuheiji is no longer available in the US. Last time I saw Born Gold on sale at my Northern California Marukai, it was at that price, and the bottling was a year old.

At some sake shop where I visited last week in Tokyo, where I spotted a rare sighting of Born Gold, it was properly stored and refrigerated. Born Gold is also single pasteurized, on top of being an unfiltered Junmai Daiginjo. It’s designed to be consumed cold to lightly chilled.

If you must, then maybe Mitsuwa / Nijiya / Marukai… as long as the bottling dates are fairly recent and still refrigerated.

That’s funny. Thanks for bringing us back down to earth.

I did not buy that bottle. What is an acceptable number of months between bottling and purchase? The date on the bottle was October 2018. The one thing H Mart has going for them is that its freezing inside the store. But I would agree that their handling of items is not up to par.

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Since it is not that long ago the bottling date is recent it may be somewhat ok.

You could “take one for the team” and taste it to see if you like it, at least the price is reasonable and close to wholesale cost.

The supermarket may be cold but after the store closes it’s no guarantee what the temperature is like. Plus it’s not in refrigeration, supermarket people have no clue it’s sinfle pasteurized and it’s not obvious either. Sake stored above 5 degrees C will still deteriorate over time unless it’s a Junmai, Junmai Ginjo or Honjozo double pasteurized with some aging before release. Worst case you already have a bad bottle on the shelves before it got to the store.

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I will the next time I go to H-Mart. I’m scared that my sake palate is not refined enough to be able to tell if the bottle is “off”. Worst case scenario is I’ll be sake drunk.