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Sake 101

Get a quick lesson from Yoshis on this Japanese rice alcohol.


Annabelle Breakey; Food stylist: Robyn Valarik

Anyone who finds the complexities of sake daunting should consider a visit to Yoshi’s in Oakland. With 22 bottles and six kinds offered by the glass, the restaurant’s sake list is an ideal primer. There are three main styles of sake, and Yoshi’s former sake buyer, Ben Baker, has selected representatives of each.

The most refined—literally, as the most complex sakes come from rice stripped of 50 percent of its kernel—is daiginjo. Next is ginjo, which has 40 percent of the kernel removed. Finally, there’s junmai, with 30 percent stripped away. Here, three of Yoshi’s by-the-glass selections point to the different styles.


Hoyo Kura no Hana ($14) This daiginjo sake is a great first course sake, says Baker. “It pairs especially well with sashimi, whitefish, and oysters.”
Dewazakura Oka ($9) This ginjo is brewed to be aromatic, says Baker. Well-matched with salads.
Chikurin Fukamari ($9) All the rice used for this sake is organic and grown on the brewery’s property. “Junmai is for heavy drinking and is great with grilled meats,” says Baker.

Yoshi’s, 510 Embarcadero West, Oakland, (510) 238-9200, yoshis.com/restaurant.

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