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Oct 25, 2011 02:21 PM

Any good Sake at the LCBO?

Having a dinner party and serving Japanese fusion. Looking for a decent sake to serve with dinner. Any recommendations that can be purchased at the LCBO???

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  1. Here are some decent Sake that you can find at the LCBO. They've bumped their Sake game up as of late and are offering Sake that's a bit better than the stuff they usually carry. They still offer way too many dry one dimensional ethanol tasting Sake if you ask me but they've improved over the past year. Here are my top picks at the LCBO right now:

    Japan | Gekkeikan Sake (U.S.A.), Inc.
    VINTAGES 603837 | 300 mL | $ 16.95

    Japan | Momokawa Brewery
    VINTAGES 209726 | 300 mL | $ 24.95

    Japan | Okunomatsu Sake Brewery Co. Ltd.
    VINTAGES 228676 | 720 mL | $ 29.95

    Japan | Tamanohikari Sake Brewing Company
    VINTAGES 747790 | 300 mL | $ 16.75

    Japan | Okunomatsu Sake Brewery Co. Ltd.
    VINTAGES 228684 | 720 mL | $ 37.95

    Japan | Sojitz Foods Corporation
    VINTAGES 230326 | 720 mL | $ 36.95

    The last two I haven't actually seen on the shelves as of yet but they're in the system.

    15 Replies
    1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

      P.I.G. - - any of the ones you mention have floral or fruity qualities?

      1. re: Apprentice

        I would say that they all have hints of fruit and maybe white flowers but none are what I would call on the fruitier side of Sake. The fruitiest/floweriest of the bunch would be the Murai, the Horin, and the Sakura Ginjo in that order. All three are a little fruitier on the nose then they are on the tongue.

        Again though, they're all tame compared to what I would consider an outright fruity, flowery Sake like a Watari Bune, or a Kamoshibito Kuheiji "Eau Du Desir"

        1. re: Apprentice

          I think some of the fresh sakes under the Izumi brand would match your criteria.

        2. re: Notorious P.I.G.

          I like the Okunomatsu. If you see the Wakatake Onikoroshi, you should also grab it as it's one of my favourites (and sells out quick). However, you have to match your foods wisely with that one.

          For more white-wine like sake, go for fresh sakes which you can get from Ontario Spring Water Sake Company. Look for them in the LCBO under Izumi. I think they only have one product at the LCBO but you can buy more at the brewery. Definitely go for their tasting if you visit the brewery because tasting fresh sake can be an eye-opener.

          1. re: Wandering Foodie

            Yeah, the Okunomatsu is a great table sake. You can get Wakatake Onikoroshi from Ozawa if you really want it. (by the case load) Out of the Sake Ozawa carries, I think the Nanbu Bijin JDG would be my favorite.

            If you get a chance you should try the Wakatake Akino Ki-Ippon Hiyaoroshi. I know a shipment is making it stateside this fall. Maybe I will track down a bottle...

          2. re: Notorious P.I.G.

            This is very encouraging ... I can remember back in 1993, if I wanted sake I had to buy it from a guy in a deserted parking lot out of the trunk of his wasn't even particularly good sake (Sho Chiku Bai nigori sake, from California)

            1. re: barleywino

              Haha, yeah. I guess in 1993 you basically had to home brew if you wanted some Sake.

            2. re: Notorious P.I.G.

              Is their a particular LCBO you tend to shop at P.I.G.? I'm having trouble finding locations on the website for the Murai Family Daiginjo.

              1. re: graydyn

                None in particular but I will go to a specific location if I know they have something good in. I would say the best Sake selections are at Summerhill, and the location at Dupont and Spadina.

                1. re: graydyn

                  I would add the cooper street location to the mix as well. They are not as big as the summerhill but have a one of the widest selection I have seen at LCBO.

                2. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                  As of this am the LCBO website says there are only 2 bottles of GEKKEIKAN HORIN JUNMAI DAIGINJO SAKE left for sale in the GTA.

                  1. re: Herne

                    That's great. The demand seems to really be increasing for the better quality stuff. The Okunomatsu Tokubetsu Junmai sold out really quick too.

                    1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                      You know this already but for everybody else, the Okunomatsu Tokubetsu oxidizes something terrible. It turns very alcohol-y once open for a day or two, only drink it if you plan on finishing the bottle on the same night.

                      So far the Masumi ginjo is my favourite of the releases in the past 6 months, very asian pear. Looking forward to the Ama No To as it's sitting in my fridge. Murai was good too, but is expensive.

                      I snoozed on the Okunomatsu Sakura, maybe I shouldn't have.

                      1. re: aser

                        Just a small word of warning on the Ama No To. It's maybe not at it's best drunk straight out of the fridge. I mean try it for sure to compare but I find it really opens up as it approaches room temp.

                        1. re: aser

                          The Okunomatsu Sakura was really good. I have a bottle of that back in the group buying days of J-Town.

                    1. re: sloweater

                      Yes and they have a tasting bar. It's a fun way to spend a few dollars drinking sake in the Distillery District.

                      1. re: sloweater

                        great info sloweater! will definitely try out their tasting bar

                      2. The LCBO has always dabbled sporadically in bringing Sake in. Some of it pedestrian offerings from reputable breweries (all of the lower end Masumi Sake) to solid Izakaya numbers (Wakatake Onikoroshi/Hakkaisan/Okunomatsu/TamaNoHikari) to absolute gems (Sato No Homare) Never in the past have they been consistent in bringing even a decent table Sake in on a regular basis.

                        However, as of late the LCBO is really stepping their game up, bringing in Sake not only from reputable breweries, but a couple I haven't seen available anywhere else on the east coast. Which brings me to Ama No To Daiginjo 45. I've definitely seen the Tokubetsu Junmai and the Junmai Junkara around at various Sake shops but the Daiginjo 45 I've only seen at the LCBO.

                        It's a fairly new brew from Asamai Shuzo from what I understand polished to 45% (hence the name?) using Gin No Sei Rice. It's very aromatic probably due in part to the No.9 Yeast (as opposed to their usual AK-1) and has an SMV of +3. It's also a Junmai although it doesn't say it on the bottle. Definitely a great table sake to have around. It's pretty affordable and is far and away the best option as far as sake goes at the LCBO right now. I am slowly hoarding away bottles for myself. I love Akita Sake.



                        In the future it looks like there will be a Nigori from Ama No To, a Nigori from Miwa Shuzo (Shirakawago SasaNigori) as well as a Junmai Ginjo from Kikusui coming in. There also looks to be a Junmai Daiginjo (Shimizu No Mai) also from Akita prefecture coming soon as well.

                        I should also mention that Masumi has also put forth their best offering to date at the LCBO in the Ginjo Sake Kaden Tezukuri. I haven't tried this one yet but have bought a bottle and will crack it soon. They are a legendary brewery when it comes down to it so I don't expect this bottle to be bad at all.

                        Exciting things going on at the LCBO right now as far as Sake goes. I can't wait to see what they bring in next.

                        16 Replies
                        1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                          Yes, I was pleasantly surprised seeing the new releases every time I go there. If I've any complaints it's that we don't get the higher end (in quality) ones here... Hey, if they can bring in the big wines from France, why not sake? And the price is high if you compare. But I'm not complaining because it's a good start! MUCH better than the crap we got only a few years ago... but if anyone gives me another Hakutsuru 3 pack, I'm gonna...

                          1. re: Wandering Foodie

                            LOL!!! The dreaded Hakutsuru Holiday 3 Pack. That's a hard one because that's the auto gift for anyone who knows you're into Sake. You would think they'd have done something special with that like the beer company holiday packs but no, just a trio of crap sake.

                            Yeah, I hope they bring some higher end Sake into the city. It's funny, if you look at Astor Wines and Spirits in NYC they've actually toned down their mid range Sake and carry mostly higher end bottles including 6 bottles of the Kikuhime Kukurihime which retails for about $600. Apparently and this is true of a lot of Sake shops, the more expensive bottles do quite well.

                            The LCBO could quite easily bring in bottles of Ama No To's Hakuun YuYu, or Nanbu Bijin JDG so maybe we'll see them around the shelves in the near future.

                            1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                              Ask and you shall receive! Make sure you get your orders into Vintages. Some ones I've not tried as well.

                              1. re: Wandering Foodie

                                Hakuun YuYu is sold out unfortunately. I think all of the higher end ($100+ ) JDG's are except for the Tentaka Silent Stream. I know I scooped the last bottle of Okunomatsu Jyuhachidai Ihei for myself...

                                1. re: Wandering Foodie

                                  Also, Guu in the Annex has Konteki right now which is really nice.

                                  1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                                    Good tip. I've got to make my way there. My fridge is empty and we've to wait till fall for the orders to arrive. :(

                                    DonDon also has a sake tasting set (3 for $15) with some Hakkaisan, Otokoyama, and Nanbu Bijin but I've seen those in other restaurants for a while now. Also according to some reviews DonDon still have some kinks to work out.

                                    1. re: Wandering Foodie

                                      Fall?!?!?! Didn't know that. Glad I do now. I was thinking about getting a bottle of the Tentaka but I don't feel like waiting for fall for it. Are you talking about all of the stuff from the latest Sake tasting at George? Or just the Nanbu Bijin?

                                      Yeah, Guu Annex (and maybe Guu on Church?) seem to get Sake exclusives from time to time. I always check them out to see what they have on offer.

                                      1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                                        Yeah, unfortunately it's all the ones from the George tasting (except the common ones we already have). :(

                            2. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                              Would the AMANOTO DAIGINJO 45
                              VINTAGES 242149 | 720 mL bottle be suitable to be served warm? I'm surprising my better half with an early Valentine's dinner. I'm steaming some King Crab and also picking up some sashimi from Taro. I'm quite uneducated when it comes to sake - would the Amanoto pair well with the sashimi and crab? If no, any suggestions? Your opinion would be highly appreciated!

                              1. re: katdog

                                On the topic of warm sake in general, I think what it comes down to is your personal preference. There's definitely a stigma around warm sake that would lead you to believe that only bad sake should be warmed to hide the rougher flavours. This would be true ages ago when sake had rougher woodier unpleasant flavours within it due to it being brewed and stored in wooden tanks and casks but it's simply not true now.

                                Warming sake to certain temperatures can bring out a lot of great flavours in a bottle and it's also a great comfort on a cold winter night. Which sake you choose to warm up is totally up to you and what you like in a sake, and I guess, what flavours you like in general. Here are some videos of a guy who likes warm sake and some general links to warm sake related stuff.








                                Personally I prefer the Ama No To 45 slightly below room temperature but experiment with it! That's half the fun!

                                With regards to pairing the Ama No To with the crab and sashimi, I almost feel like the Ama No To is more of an aperitif type Sake. Or something to pair with stronger flavoured, earthy, spicy foods. I personally would go for the Okunomatsu Sakura Ginjo as a broad sake to go with both the crab and the sashimi but then again, I don't know what kind of Sashimi you're getting or how you're going to cook the crab, so it's hard for me to say but the Sakura Ginjo should be fine.

                                1. re: katdog

                                  The Ontario Spring Water Sake Company had warm sake too on my last visit there in the distillery on Monday though I didn't indulge and just stuck to their tasting. You might wanna pay them a visit and try it out before buying.
                                  I really enjoyed their Nama Nama and I think it will go well with sashimi though one can't serve it warm as its unpasteurized (I might be wrong here). I liked it so much I ended up picking up a bottle for myself and I think it was quite reasonably priced. 300 ml was 12.75$ if I recall and it is very good.

                                  1. re: elvisahmed

                                    Thank you both for your suggestions and input. I picked up the Ama No To as I left before you responded - next time we'll try the Okunomatsu. Being the sake novices that we are, we order the same one all the time. It was nice to broaden our horizons a bit.
                                    Elvisahmed - great suggestion to go for a sake tasting, will do that for a surprise date night!

                                      1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                                        It was lovely and a really nice change from what we usually have - I think we'll have to try it chilled to really appreciate the flavours. Thanks again for your recommendation.

                                        1. re: katdog

                                          No probs! Glad you liked it! Again, probably my favourite at the LCBO right now.

                              2. Tried the Masumi Ginjo, not bad at all. Not quite as full bodied and complex as the Ama No To. More of a light, crisp, type of Sake.

                                On another note, the LCBO is carrying Sho Chiku Bai Junmai Classic which is the first North American Bottle to win Gold at the U.S. National Sake Appraisals. May be worth a try at $9.20 a pop.

                                1. Any recs for an LCBO sake to pair with Korean bo ssam, which will be both spicy and vinegary from the kimchi and ssamjang?

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: TorontoJo

                                    I have a feeling that might overpower most sakes. The two I really like from the current release are the Amanoto 45 and Masumi Ginjo.

                                    I have the sho chiku bai in the fridge now, haven't cracked it yet. If it turns out decent it'll be a great bargain.

                                    Kirusai fountain of youth junmai just dropped, will most likely pick one up to try.



                                    1. re: TorontoJo

                                      Is this a test?

                                      Kimchi is a really hard one especially with the limited (ish) selection we have here at the LCBO and also the fact that I don't know exactly what your dish is going to taste like/what ingredients you're going to use/how etc...

                                      You could go down the contrast road and try it with a Nigori Sake from the LCBO. Something sweet that will counter the acidity and spice in the kimchi. I am not a Nigori Sake drinker so I couldn't recommend a specific bottle to you.

                                      You could also go with a more asian approach and look for a dry crisp sake to cleanse your palate and get your mouth ready for the next bite. Something like the Hakkaisan Tokubetsu Junmai, Rihaku Junmai Ginjo, and Ozeki Junmai may do the trick.

                                      The acidity level in Kimchi is the problem making it hard to pair with even highly acidic wines. As sake has less acidity than wine it kind of throws me for a loop. However, Izumi here in Toronto when I first tried their Sake, had a very, very high acidity level that may be interesting to try with Kimchi. See if it can hold up to it.

                                      Lastly, a sparkling Sake could work like the Okunomatsu Sparkling Junmai Daiginjo.

                                      I will add another caveat to my growing list of caveats and attempts to cover my ass if what I recommend to you ruins your meal. Sake that you would pair with something spicy and acidic in general are across the board, not sake I prefer to drink. Therefore my advice to you is purely speculative.

                                      Let us all know what you end up with and how it went because that's a Sake pairing not attempted by most!

                                      Good luck!

                                      1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                                        Heh, not a deliberate test, but I did worry that I was asking too much. :)

                                        I don't know if more detail will help. The bo ssam I'm serving is a simple roasted pork shoulder, pulled and served in lettuce wraps. The kimchi and ssamjang are condiments, along with a ginger scallion sauce. So there are lots of strong flavours going on, but they all sort of meld together with the pork. Oh, and raw oysters are also a condiment option for the wrap.

                                        Thanks for all the recommendations, I will check them out. I definitely prefer the idea of a crisp dry sake, rather than a sweet sake. I'm curious about the sparkling sake, as I wonder if the bubbles will help cut through some of the flavours.

                                        In the end, I wonder if I'm better off serving beer. :)

                                        1. re: TorontoJo

                                          Or an Alsace Riesling (German if you decide sweeter is better).

                                          1. re: TorontoJo

                                            Haha, it's a bit of a tall order but far from impossible as some would believe.

                                            Sounds like you've planned a great spread. Yeah, I would still stick to my original recommends.

                                            Yeah, that's what I was thinking suggesting the sparkling Sake and it could work in contrast as they're usually pretty sweet. Funny thing, it was invented so that Race car drivers could spray Sake at the finish line instead of Champagne.

                                            Yeah, maybe beer or a Ginseng heavy Soju. I would also suggest Makgeolli but I don't know how down you'd be with that if you would prefer to go with dry/refreshing over Nigori Sake.