The next time you go out for sushi, don’t get lost in all the nigiri and maki rolls and forget that there’s a whole world of liquid gold out there to be enjoyed alongside your meal. And if you’re good at sake pairing or get a good recommendation from the house, the sake can even enhance flavors in your favorite sushi roll that you didn’t even realize were there. Here are our Top 5 go-to spots for sake around the Valley.
Kabuki has two locations in Arizona, one at Tempe Marketplace and one in Glendale, so no matter what side of town you’re on, you can enjoy Kabuki’s Signature Sake Sangria or one of their saketinis, made with pomegranate, peach, lime or apple-flavored sake. They also have a seriously extensive list of premium sakes that can be ordered by the glass or by the bottle. The Shochikubai Nigori, which is sweet and milky with a slight taste of coconut, is one of the favorites we return to over and over again when we’re at Kabuki.
Visit Kabuki online for locations
Nobuo at Teeter House
Chef Nobuo Fukuda’s eponymous restaurant stocks an eclectic assortment of imported Japanese beers and sakes. If a glass is all you’re in the mood for, the Tengumai “Dance of a Tengu” Junmai comes in 6-ounce tastings, or if you’re among friends, a bottle is the way to go. You have the choice of everything from a $28 bottle of Rihaku Nigori “Dreamy Clouds” Junmai Tokubetsu (300 ml.) to a $300 bottle of Daishichi “Houreki” Kimoto Junmai Daiginjo (720 ml.) We think a nice Goldilocks sake is the Satonohomare “Pride of the Village” Junmai Ginjo (300 ml., $46) — there’s a reason why it was given that nickname, you know.
Nobuo at Teeter House is located at 622 E. Adams St. in Phoenix 602.254.0600
Sens Asian Tapas and Sake Bar
Sens serves up more than 60 kinds of sake as well as several delicious flavors of infused shochu. And the fact that the place is all about serving up small tapas plates means that you can enjoy the different flavors of sake without a full meal becoming the star of your experience. A little nibble here, a little swill there, and before long you’ll be your own kind of sake expert. If you see Executive Chef Johnny Chu passing through the dining room, say hi and ask him to recommend something. You’ll soon discover what a passion this Hong Kong native has for Japanese sake.
Sens Asian Tapas and Sake Bar is located at 705 N. First St., Suite 120, in Phoenix 602.340.9777
Pearl Sushi Lounge and Bomber Bar
In line with Pearl’s very hip and contemporary atmosphere, the sake has just as much of a modern vibe. Choose from the hot or cold house draft sake, the ever-popular Sake 2 Me (a lightly carbonated Junmai ginger-mango sake), the Zipang sparkling Junmai sake, the Moonstone plum sake and others. The sushi here is incredibly innovative and indulgent, so if you’re looking for “light” rolls, look elsewhere; this is where you want to come the next time you’re ready for a sushi-sake fest. And if you like imported Japanese beer, you won’t be disappointed here either.
Pearl Sushi Lounge and Bomber Bar is located at 4252 N. Drinkwater Blvd. in Scottsdale 480.94.PEARL
Some of the best features on Roka Akor’s menu are the sake and wine flights, allowing you to try a few different kinds of sake throughout the night, or help you decide what you like best before committing to one for the rest of the night. You can try the Satomi, which includes three flights of premium Ginjo sake, or the Sayaka, which consists of super premium Daiginjo. But we recommend the Moriawase, which includes one flight each of Nigori, Ginjo and Daiginjo sake. So whether you’re a connoisseur or trying to decide on a favorite, why not sample all three of these high-quality sakes while enjoying an exquisite meal at Roka Akor.
Roka Akor is located at 7299 N. Scottsdale Road in Scottsdale 480.306.8800