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Nov 8, 2008 04:54 PM

Why is good sake so hard to find?

I bought the perfect bullseye of a fresh tuna tenderloin today, and I thought this sashimi deserves a premium sake. I couldn't find a premium sake (central gulf Florida), and only one japanese brand, which I bought. (Fu-Ki). I found 4 California brands. I don't recall rice being a cash crop in the Napa Valley. Can someone enlighten me as to how to go about buying a magnum of premium japanese sake? And are these CA versions passable?

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    1. Some of the California sakes are pretty good. Check out the Sho Chiku Bai line of products. I'm no expert, but think their junmai ginjo is pretty good stuff that goes well with sashimi and sells at a price ($4-6 / 300ml) that won't break the bank.

      1 Reply
      1. re: alanbarnes

        Thank you Alan. I don't know if I can find the California brand in Florida. I will try, and I keep copious notes. (is there any orthr type of note?)

      2. Most premium sake in the U.S. is still targeted at ex-patriot Japanese living here. So areas with a high concentration of Japanese nationals and authentic Japanese restaurants will have better availability. There are only a few areas in the country where this is the case.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Silverjay

          SJ, Sam and applehome fiercely vouch for you, and I respect your posts. A dear friend and top-2 sushi restaurant owner in Denver, gave me the large bottles of super-premium sake, and as good friends are, I never knew the real cost, and of course I reciprocated in my own ways, but with a blindness.
          Why must it be such a closed, secret society? I am a dane and I think I meld well with jews and latinos and I have worked well with those cultures and have earned my stripes. I like japanese; please don't deal me out!

          1. re: Veggo

            Japanese sake makers are desperate to expand their business in the U.S. But like any business, scale is important and the demand is only slowly being created here to justify wider distribution. Premium sake is a nice gift, but the real cost shouldn't be astronomical. It's been said the sake is priced much more fairly and accessible than wine.

            1. re: Silverjay

              The product is so good, it should not require more than a kick-start.The challenge for a marketer - ignorance, national allegiance, inertia, Bud Lite. But the product has legs.
              I would love the job! I could sell sake by day and drink it at night and make a better world for us all.

              1. re: Veggo

                Y'know, I live in the SF /bay area in Calif, and sake, even the premium brands costing $50 and up per bottle, is all over the place and easy to find. I think your problem is living in an area w/o a prominent japanese population.
                Suggest you Google "premium sake", and you will get a bazillion websites that will ship to you; or, you could just move here and enjoy being in sake heaven ;-)

        2. I don't know sake, but understand these are supposed to be good ones:

          There is contact information somewhere on the site, so you could ask the importer where it's sold in your area.

          1. So far I haven't been too impressed with the US sakes. One exception is Ozeki's nigori grade sake. It's sweet, rich, and very creamy. It's one of the tastiest nigoris I've had, and is usually a big crowd-pleaser when I bring it to a party. It may be a little too much for your sashimi, though. I'd suggest something like Otokoyama's Tokubetsu Junmai. It's light, a bit on the dry side, and very clean. It's one of the more popular Japanese labels, so it shouldn't be too hard to find. A good contrasting sake would be something like Rihaku's Wandering Poet Junmai Ginjo. It has a strong flavor that's a bit on the sweet side. I think both of those would go pretty well with your tuna.

            If anyone is interested, I am trying to get a dedicated sake discussion forum started at So far it's mainly a bunch of crude write-ups that I've done. But there are also a few links and write-ups for online sake vendors that you may want to check out if you're having trouble finding stuff locally. And if anyone finds some good wholesale sites, please send them my way.