Smooth and a little sweet, sake is the drink of choice for sophisticated evenings. Philadelphia’s Japanese hot spots have great selections and knowledgeable staff who can help even the most novice of sippers get their legs. The next time you are craving sushi, head to one of these restaurants to up the experience with sake.
1225 RAW Sushi & Sake Lounge
Slip past the red velvet curtains and beneath the bamboo ceiling to enjoy one of Center City’s best sake bars. The massive glass bar displays the restaurant’s exotic selections, more than 20 of which are available in 8 oz personal carafes or by the bottle. Or head outside and enjoy their patio. Newcomers should go for the tasting flights, each pairing four types for a mini education. Or slip your sake into one of their many cocktails, like the Ginger Blossom: vodka, sake, ginger liqueur and muddled lemons.
1225 RAW Sushi & Sake Lounge is located at 1225 Sansom Street, Philadelphia, 215.238.1903, www.rawlounge.net
Want a side of entertainment with your sake? Head to this popular night spot for Japanese tapas, sake and some of the best karaoke in the city. The sleek, underlit bar is a great place get to know your bartender and sample some of their impressive list. Or grab a sake bomb (or two) and get the courage you need to hop on stage and belt “Don’t Stop Believing.”
Yakitori Boy is located at 211 North 11th St., Philadelphia, 215.923.8088, www.yakitoriboy-japas.com
The famed Masaharu Morimoto‘s first restaurant was here in humble Philly, and it’s still one of the best places to splurge on expertly prepared Japanese cuisine. The drinks here rival the super-fresh fish, with a mix of classic sakes (Morimoto even has his own signature line available at the restaurant) and more modern mixologist masterpieces using the ingredient. We’d order the Morimoto Martini: Morimoto Junmai sake, vodka and Japanese cucumbers.
Morimoto is located at 723 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, 215.413.9070, www.morimotorestaurant.com
Azie on Main
Diversity wins at Azie, an Asian concept restaurant with influences of France, Italy and nearly every other cuisine. Grab a cozy table or a few seats at the stunning communal table, create a meal including everything from sushi to fresh grilled fish and top it off with a specialty sake, available by the glass, carafe or bottle.
Azie on Main is located at 789 East Lancaster Ave., Villanova, 610.527.5700, www.azieonmain.com
One of the suburbs’ most popular sushi spots is also a sake haven. Offering a wide variety of styles and ensuring customers understand the subtle differences (just head to their website for a brief lesson) Ooka does it right. There are plenty to choose from by the glass or bottle, or you can have it with a twist and order up a refreshing sake sangria.
Ooka is located at 110 Veteran’s Lane, Doylestown, 215.348.8185, 1109 Easton Road, Willow Grove, 215.659.7688, 764 Bethlehem Pike, Montgomeryville, 215.361.1119, www.ookasushi.com