I know I’ve been going on and on about my obsession about sake… an obsession that began in our 2019 Japan holiday trip. I didn’t used to like sake, and admittedly I still have issues remembering the terminologies – let alone figure out the Japanese text on the bottles.
Still, I am operating on the principle that at the end of it all (I’m about to say something incredibly lowbrow), sake is a beverage… and as with anything one consumes, preference plays a huge factor (i.e., no judgment).
That said, I may have issues understanding what I drink in terms of sake, but I know what I like… and with sake, I sure as heck like it with sushi.
So, on one chilly lunch somewhere in Orange County, I decided to order a bottle.
Label: Sho Chiku Bai Nigori Milky Mild
The label was pretty educational… I learned – through the magic of Google – that Nigori is indicative of a cloudy, unfiltered sake. I have nothing against the style, as one of my personal favorites is actually made similarly (Hakutsuru Sayuri Nigori, to be specific… PS, any leads for this in Metro Manila is much appreciated). What was also pretty interesting with this particular label was that it said it was made in the U.S.A. It also said it was sweet (more on this in the Tasting Notes).
Why I Drank It
Honestly, the lack of options. The restaurant we went to for lunch – after a monster sashimi craving that made us scour a spot to score good Japanese food AND finding out that the county has lifted on-premise dining bans – had this, and a huge bottle… Not something I could drink in one go (I know I look like it, but I cannot – and should not – drink an entire bottle of sake in one sitting).
The first thing that got to me was… holy cow, it was sweet. At that point, I was used to the sake equivalent of a house pour in different parts of Japan, and I wasn’t prepared for that flavor profile… because I should have read the label better. Regardless, it was pretty restrained in terms of aromas and acidity, but was rich in terms of its fruit flavors and had a creamy texture.
In a total Oprah-Meghan Markle moment, would I say it was “flabby,” a term usually reserved for big but largely uninteresting wine?
3.5 masu* units out of 5. Again, working with my personal preference, it wasn’t the style that I prefer… but to be absolutely fair, I understood that it was the style the producer wanted to make. It made it very approachable for novice sake drinkers, and even drinkers who are starting out in alcohol appreciation.
I’d pair it with California-style sushi. Those big, huge chunks of sliced, vinegared rice rolls with mostly veggies and avocados would go very well with the sake. I wouldn’t recommend it with sashimi, because I feel that it needs more acidity that would surely cut through the fishiness of the dish.
*A Masu was once upon a time a unit of measure for rice in Japan. Typically made of wood, these days it’s primarily used for drinking sake.