I've talked about following your passions in life before (ok, I talk about it like everyday) and here's a place that embodies a deep passion for sake. Opened in 2007, Sake Nomi is a pioneer in sake retail and tasting in the United States. It is casual and almost feels like you've just walked into someone's living room.
This living room belongs to a gentleman named Johnnie. He and his wife opened Sake Nomi back when you couldn't find that many premium sakes, and certainly couldn't taste them. Johnnie lived in Japan for several years and moved to Seattle in the late 90's (the height of grunge!).
The sake selection is carefully curated and clearly, only the sakes that pass Johnnie's test. There are cards that explain each sake, and little symbols on all bottles marking what the type of sake it is (junmai, daiginjo, etc). This was a clever system that was easy to understand. The main stage of Sake Nomi is the tasting bar. We grabbed a seat and all tried different sake flights. It was still early in the day, around 4pm, and Johnnie was behind the bar, receiving deliveries, polishing glassware and chiming in once in a while to comment on the sakes. Sake Nomi had a warm and fun atmosphere with sake labels stickered onto the walls and a sizeable Japanese cinema DVD collection. It really felt like a clubhouse and was not unlike walking into a nomiya (watering hole) in Japan: if it's your first time, the master, and all the other regulars, are skeptical. They are polite but aren't overly-friendly. I mean, you're lucky to even be sitting there! You might earn the master's trust after coming around a few times, but don't expect any special attention on your first visit. I appreciated Sake Nomi anyhow and I am sure I would come here all the time if I lived in Seattle! And they were getting ready to celebrate their eight year anniversary! Business is booming at Sake Nomi and once again, it was proven that it does pay off to follow your passions. Kanpai!
76 S Washington St
Seattle, WA 98104