Umami Mart Registry
um_sakegumi_logoHappy New Year!

In 2015, we expanded our Oakland shop to include sakes and the largest selection of Japanese craft beers in the U.S. Then, we launched Sake Gumi in August in an effort to spread the joy of sake to those in the Bay Area and beyond. We felt that this club would be the ideal way to share what we are drinking with you all, while building a community of sake lovers around the country.

It's the year of the monkey, both Kayoko and my lunar year (yes, we are only 24!). Monkeys are inquisitive by nature and we'd like to impart that to Sake Gumi throughout the year. With this, we are kicking off 2016 with the Sake Gumi theme of "Bold Brews."

From the spearsman on Level 1's Shichi Hon Yari to the unexpected rose-colored sake of Level 2's Inemankai, we've chosen sakes that capture the tireless, ambitious spirit of sake-making. Naturally, with a theme like "Bold Brews", all of the sakes are junmais (pure rice sake) which tend to be rich and robust.

Here are our picks to kick off 2016!

LEVEL 1: Introductory Membership (Two 300ml bottles)


Jitsuraku Tokubetsu Junmai Kimoto
Sawanotsuru Brewery (Kobe, Japan)
Seimaibuai: 70%
SMV: +2.5

An umamiful, riciness greets the senses thanks to the 100% grade A yamadanishiki rice used for this sake. This rice is desired by sake brewers for its ability to absorb water and dissolve easily. Jitsuraku’s clean finish is best highlighted by drinking this sake slightly chilled. This is an easy to drink, down-home sake that you can enjoy any time with ramen or a burger!


Shichi Hon Yari “The Seven Spearsmen” Junmai
Tomita Brewery (Shiga, Japan)
Seimaibuai: 60%
SMV: +4
Technically qualified as a junmai ginjo because of its use of 60% polished rice, this junmai balances body with a crisp finish. Its name comes from the legendary seven spearsmen who fought a battle close to the brewery of this sake. We love the slight viscosity of this sake and its mushroomy aroma that is enhanced when slightly warmed. We enjoyed this at room temperature with some shabu shabu and shungiku (chrysanthemum leaves) for a meal that was fitting for the start of a bold and prosperous year.

LEVEL 2: Premium Membership (Two 720ml bottles)

yamato_shizukuYamato Shizuku Junmai
Akita Seishu (Akita, Japan)
Seimaibuai: 65%
SMV: +6

We had a blast opening a bottle of this junmai at Sushi Kuni (Kayoko’s dad’s sushi restaurant in Cupertino, CA). Alongside braised tuna belly and blanched spinach with dashi, this dry, sharp junmai is light on its feet and went down a little too easily. This is a great sake to drink slightly chilled, that pairs best with seafood and tomato-based dishes. Founded in 1865, all rice used at the Akita brewery is harvested within 6 miles.


Inemankai “Ine’s Full Bloom” Red Junmai Genshu
Mukai Brewery (Kyoto, Japan)
Seimaibuai: 73%
SMV: -5.4

We first tried this sake at Portland Sake Fest in June 2015 and have been waiting patiently for these bottles to arrive in California. With only a few cases available in CA, we snatched enough for our Level 2 members. Mukai Shuzo is one of the only breweries in Japan with a female toji (head brewer). Kuniko-san is known to experiment with unusual rice strains and yeasts. This smokey, acidic, sherry-like sake is made with red rice, resulting in a pink hue. We love this sake on its own, chilled or on-the-rocks, or paired with a stinky blue cheese. Mind blown! Cheers to adventures in sake in the new year.