Our dream? To share our excitement about premium sake with kindred spirits like you.
Although we've tasted or drunk (yes, there is a difference) a number of different sake,
we're always seeking to learn something new about it. We've studied under Sake
Samurai and nihonshu authority extraordinaire John Gauntner at his Professional
Sake Course in Tokyo, visited sake breweries, numerous izakaya (sake pubs), and
sake shops throughout Japan. We've also experimented at home with food pairings
both Japanese and Western (Cheese with sake? Absolutely!). And we still realize
that we've only scratched the surface of the tip of the “sake iceberg!” There is
always more to explore and learn and we believe that the fun is in sharing that with
Rick’s passion for sake began in 2000 with a trip to the then new East Village restaurant Jewel Bako during his 10-year tenure as Associate Publisher at Food & Wine Magazine. Their omakase dinner paired with a selection of different sake was a stunning revelation of the variety and versatility of sake...it was served slightly chilled and was nothing like that hot overly alcoholic “jet fuel” that he'd had at so many sushi restaurants in the ’80’s and ’90’s. As a long-time wine enthusiast, he was surprised to find that sake too had an alluring abundance of aromatics and flavors, all from the deceptively simple combination of rice, water, yeast, and the mysterious thing called koji. That seminal experience launched him into a headlong pursuit of sake tasting anywhere the brew was available and to more intensive research sessions with Hiroko at home. The origin of Hiroko’s passion? Well, when you grow up in Japan where sake is an integral part of the culture, let us just say that hers grew a bit more organically.
Although there have been a number of Japanese restaurants in New York for years, including our “research laboratory,” the izakaya Sakagura with its incomparable sake selection, there has been a recent surge in the number of new Japanese restaurants such as Matsuri, Totto, Soba Totto, EN Japanese Brasserie, Uminoie, and Soba-Koh that serve dishes based on a combination of “homestyle” cooking and grilled foods, for which sake is a perfect match. Even the dessert-focused Chikalicious and Kyotofu feature or include sake among their beverage choices. Along with this trend, sake has also permeated the beverage lists of non-Japanese restaurants beginning with Chanterelle ten years ago and extending more recently to Bouley, Per Se, Tocqueville, and Asian establishments such as Bao Noodles, Sushi Samba, and the Momofukus. All of this has resulted in an ever-growing variety of opportunities to try and experience the pleasures of premium sake.
We believe that the time is right for New York to have its first shop specializing in premium sake. At SAKAYA we focus on acquainting, educating, and familiarizing patrons with the pleasures of drinking sake and pairing it with food. Our aim is to offer a learning experience that not only creates an appreciation for and enjoyment of drinking sake, but also for the Japanese culture from which it originates.
Please visit us. We look forward to seeing you at SAKAYA