Many things Japanese are very familiar to Americans now: Sushi? Got it. Ramen? Everywhere. Pocari Sweat? Well, okay, maybe not so much. But sake is one thing that, while well known, is not well understood. Any old sake is not hard to find among LA’s myriad Japanese eateries. But the best sakes, explained for the best enjoyment? Only a few do that well. Here’s my Top 5:
If your vision of Geisha House is only that of a post-trendy tourist trap, you need to rethink. This atmospheric spot offers one of the best selections of ginjo, daiginjo, junmai and nigori in the city—nicely varied and explained.
Geisha House is located at 6633 Hollywood Boulevard, 323.460.6300
Manhattan Beach? Really? Yes, Chef Makoto Okuwa, a veteran of Iron Chef (he was a sous chef there for 13 years) and the kitchen of Morimoto, has put passion into every detail of his sushi and robata restaurant, so why should the sake selection be any different? His extensive list—possibly the best in LA County—is separated by seasons, and offers flights, full flavor profiling, and pairing suggestions.
Sashi is located at 451 Manhattan Beach Boulevard, Manhattan Beach, 310.545.0400
This well-loved sushi and robata destination has a smart sake list that covers virtually all bases, with nicely varied price points, and popular labels alongside more rare ones. They even offer some interesting “Tokubetsu” (“specialties”) including sparkling sake and a cedar flavored sake, as well as infusions and sake cocktails.
Katana is located at 8439 West Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood, 323.650.8585
If the elegant design of Philippe Starck and the hip marketing of SBE were all that Katsuya had to offer, it wouldn’t be as successful a chain as it has become. Distinguished by the flavor profiles of soushu (light & smooth), kunshu (fragrant), and junshu (rich), Katsuya’s list is thoughtful and instructive.
Katsuya is located at 11777 San Vicente Boulevard, 6300 Hollywood Boulevard, 800 West Olympic Boulevard, and 702 Americana Way, Glendale, 310.207.8744
Sake House Miro
Though far more casual, Sake House Miro is also extremely authentic, with robata, yakitori, ramen, dumplings, salads and sashimi on their exhaustive menu. Their sake list is not so extensive, but it hits several major flavor profiles, and all of it is available by the glass, giving you a great chance to educate your palate.
Sake House Miro is located at 809 South LaBrea Avenue, 323.939.7075