This month at Umami Mart, we are featuring our closest collaborators and friends in the restaurant and bar world in the Bay Area.
Our month-long celebration coincides with our annual Camino Sake Dinner (this year will be our third!) on March 25. This is one of our favorite events of the year – how could you pass up a night of drinking sake alongside dishes cooked in the Camino fireplace? We'll be featuring a wide spectrum of sakes alongside a three-course meal; and you'll also be able to take home your own commemorative sake glass.
This month's Sake Gumi picks include sakes we will serve at the Camino dinner and a sake offered at Kiraku, one of our favorite izakayas in the Bay Area. For pairings, we tried the sakes at these restaurants with the owner-chefs to see which pairings worked best (tough life!).
From the dry and versatile Ippin Junmai to the juicy and acidic Yamasake4, these sakes have a range that can be enjoyed alongside a delicate hirame sashimi appetizer to a hearty serving of barely seared duck.
LEVEL 1: Introductory Membership (Two 300ml bottles)
Yoshikubo Brewery (Ibaraki, Japan)
Seimaibuai: 60%, SMV: +4
Two words to describe this sake are sturdy + clean. It has pleasant umami thanks to its riceyness, but is also mouth-watering thanks to its high acidity. The crispness of this junmai is akin to a Savignon Blanc or ginjo. In fact, Chris, our store manager and ginjo-lover, says that this is, “one of my favorite junmais.” Daiki, owner of Kiraku in Berkeley, recommends pairing this sake chilled with sardine sashimi (or any other oily fish). Beware... it’s hard to just stop at one cup with this easy-to-drink sake.
Tatsumigura Junmai Ginjo
Homare Shuzo (Fukushima, Japan)
Seimaibuai: 50%, SMV: +2
When drinking an array of sakes with Allison and Russ of Camino in Oakland, this one stood out. Full of butterscotch and caramel on the nose, this earthy, sturdy brew is a mouthful of candy cap mushrooms. Everyone at the table enjoyed this robust junmai ginjo chilled. It was not surprising that this earthy sake paired well with the rustic flavors of trout that had just come out of the Camino fireplace. Another pairing recommendation is with sauteed wild mushrooms.
LEVEL 2: Premium Membership (Two 720ml bottles)
Tamura Sake Brewery (Tokyo, Japan)
Seimaibuai: 55%, SMV: +5
This sake is all about acidity. It enters your mouth with swagger, thanks to its bright acidity and slight bitterness that you’d find in nectarine or peach peels. Midway through, this sake has a cottony texture accompanied by a juicy grape flavor. It ends as assertively as it enters with a bold spice. Yamasake4 was a great pair alongside the beet and sauerkraut salad at Camino. Enjoy chilled or at room temperature. Fun fact: Tamura Sake Brewery is located in Fussa City in Tokyo where the United States Air Force Yokota Air Base is located.
Shichida Nama Muroka Junmai Ginjo
Tenzan Sake Brewery (Saga, Japan)
Seimaibuai: 55%, SMV: +1~2
This sake is super limited and seasonal. So much so that I had to get on a list back in November to preorder just enough cases for our members. It’s unlike anything you’ve tasted before – it’s bubbly since it’s extra fresh and unpasteurized, and has a spiciness that pops in your mouth like a garden of sansho peppers and lemon peels. A dynamite pairing at room temperature with lamb skewers or wagyu slices at Kiraku in Berkeley.