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Jan 25, 2007 07:20 PM

You're not supposed to drink sake with sushi!

There have been a couple of posts on this board about how sake isn't meant to be drank with sushi (I believe I've read that a couple of other places as well.) The theory is that because sake is made of rice it's not complimentary to the sushi because of the sushi rice. It never made much sense to me, but I figured it was just a Japanese custom. Well, tonight at Sushi Zo (delicious as always!!!) I ordered sake. While I took a break for the omakase (did Imention it was delicious?) Keizo-san asked how I liked the sake and I said it was tasty, but that I had heard sake wasn't meant to be had with sushi. He said incredulously "who told you that?" I said "I read it, isn't it true?" He shook his head no. I said "oh, is that a silly belief?" And he said he'd never heard it.I said I guess people (me) read something and believe it when they shouldn't, and he agreed. So there you have it. I'm not saying that someone else of Japanese descent wouldn't disagree, but it's certainly not universal. (For those who've never been, Keizo-san is from Japan and the sushi is top notch, he knows what he's doing.) So all of you sake and sushi minglers, have at it!!

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  1. When I'm with Japanese people I notice that they are more likely to drink beer with sushi than sake.

    I think when I was in Japan the only person I ever saw drink sake with sushi was myself. I began to think that sake drinking must be a charming American custom. All around me the Japanese were either drinking beer or the hard stuff.

    1. Maybe they meant kot fact hot sake should never be drank period!

      3 Replies
      1. re: chefthisguy

        I used to travel to Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto, on business (3 or 4 times a year from 1985 to '95). I distinctly remember more cold sake than hot, but I would differ in that I DO recall being served warmed sake....... and I was always with local Japnese business people. I'm interested in knowing why you are so sure about this and in what others have to say.

        1. re: chefthisguy

          Depends on which of the thousands of sake you are drinking. There are some sakes that are perfectly fine slightly warmed and some that are not.

          1. re: chefthisguy

            chefthisguy -What a silly post, a quick Google search and the fact that many if not most Japenese restaurants serve warm sake proves that, or are you joking?

          2. I can hardly imagine a better complement of flavors than a sip from a box of premium sake immediately following a buttery yellowtail sashimi. Call me simple.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Veggo

              You can have sake with sashimi, just not (unless according to Keizo and he's more of an expert than I) with rice-based nigiri or rolls.

              1. re: hrhboo

                This is exactly why I posted this! I explained the whole sushi has rice and sake is made of rice theory, and Keizo looked at me like I loopy. According to Keizo, it's just not true. It may be a tradition for some, but it's not enough of a tradition for someone who's a Japanese-born sushi chef to have heard of it! I personally figured my tummy wouldn't explode if I ate sushi and drank sake, so I drank sake and ate sushi whenever I wanted. But I think people are avoiding the combo because they think it's a faux pas.

            2. Never was a sushi officionado/snob but I've had my share here in LA and Japan. Having eaten it at sushi counters but more so at peoples' homes, it is almost always served with beer and sake when the occasion calls for it. From my experience, many people might be surprised as to how infrequently sake is consumed in a typical Japanese home. Aside from cooking with it, seems most people break it out for a special occasion or when company is over. It is much more of a social or ceremonial drink. The festive social atmosphere at sushi counters is much more conducive to drinking sake. So whether or not it is a faux pas to have sake with sushi I guess is overruled by the fact that it's just a good fit!

              1. Having been to Japan 7 times in the last 4 years and eaten with many Japanese friends - my verdict is that they seem to order beer first then the sake...but both for sure!

                1 Reply
                1. re: jbyoga

                  I was told that directly the other night by my brother-in-law - they start with beer, and move on the the harder stuff later. This was at an izakaya, so plenty of sushi there.